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Situation Assessment 02 March, 2013

Iraq: Recent Protests and the Crisis of a Political System

Keyword

Yahya Alkubaisi

​Yehia al-Kubaisi is a consultant for the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies and worked previously as a visiting researcher at the French Near East Institute. Dr. Al-Kubaisi earned his Ph.D in literary criticism from the University of Baghdad and has published numerous studies and scholarly articles in the fields of literary criticism, political science, social sciences, law, and education. Al-Kubaisi has also published a book entitled Tropes, Incarnations, and Illusions: a Study in Modern Arab Criticism (2009); he also co-authored The State of Social Sciences in Iraqi Universities (2008) and Reviews of the Iraqi Constitution (2006). Dr. Al-Kubaisi has also participated in many symposiums and scholarly conferences.

Introduction

Iraqi political elites have shown their inability to resolve the major problems unleashed by the occupation of Iraq in April 2003, issues that have persisted even after adopting the Iraqi constitution in 2005. These difficulties have continued to reappear in different manifestations through what can be called a policy of "recycling crises". Iraq is currently witnessing a new crisis, consisting of a popular movement that has arisen in the Sunni parts of the country (al-Anbar, Nineveh, Salahuddine, Diyala, Kirkuk, and Baghdad). It began following a raid by Interior Ministry forces against the official and private offices of Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi, a senior figure in the Iraqi List led by Ayad Allawi, which resulted in the arrest of between 150 and 200 of his bodyguards on December 20, 2012. This recent predicament is but a symptom of the main political crisis affecting Iraq, related to the political system inherited by the 2005 constitution. Iraq's 2005 constitution has not been successfully applied due to a number of intrinsic challenges, and remains to date incapable of providing solutions to the emerging issues afflicting the country.

Tactical alternatives, which were created in order to produce hybrid regimes back in 2006, have failed to resolve the government's structural crisis. This particularly applies to the so-called consensual arrangements which are attempts to maintain the fragile political situation based on the existing balance of power, and not on a shared frame of reference agreed by everyone. These power-sharing initiatives have not transformed into political conventions adopted by all political parties and into codified agreements respected by all, but tend to represent ethnic and sectarian interests. The US and, to a lesser extent, other international actors were the main factor behind the establishment of these initiatives, based on an American perspective that emerged following the civil war in 2006-2007, and which presupposed that US interference should remain at a minimal level, without attempting to impose a specific vision. This decision was based on a belief that the political process is destined to produce its own indigenous model - one that to date has yet to take place.

 

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* This article was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version can be found here.