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Studies 03 November, 2011

Iraq, From Security to Political Management

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Hichem Karoui

​After earning a PhD in Sociology from the Sorbonne University, Dr. Karouii began specializing in international relations and the sociology of elites. His research includes studies on networks of politicians, businessmen, and military leaders, locally and internationally, with a particular focus on the relationship between the United States and the societies of the Arab-Muslim region (the Middle East and North Africa); the reproduction of elites and their affiliations; ideologies, frames of reference, and comparative values; and the interactions of Arab and Muslim minorities in the West with their surroundings and origins. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the Middle East Studies Online Journal, a peer-reviewed academic journal that is published in three languages. He has been following and commenting on Arab and international politics for more 25 years. In addition, he has published hundreds of articles and numerous research papers in Arabic, French, and English in specialized journals in Europe, the US, and the Arab world. Since the 1980s, Dr. Karouii has published several books on international relations, as well as political and social conditions in the Arab world. Among his publications are The International Balance from the Cold War to the Détente (Tunis, 1985); The Eagle and the Borders: A Preface for a Critique of the Arab Political Reality (Tunis, 1989); Post-Saddam Iraq (Paris, 2005); The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Where to? (Paris, 2006); Muslims: a Nightmare or a Force for Europe? (Paris, 2011).

The American assessment of the situation of Iraq is forcibly limited due to its main concern  with   security issues  as part of an Empire  global strategy , instead of viewing such matters as part and parcel of a broad political reality relating to the local arena. This sort of assessment  lasted for the whole course of the occupation; but with the withdrawal of the US troops, it appears vital  that the Iraqi political elite adopts an independent vision that  asserts the political and juridical nature of the issues at hand and revises them from that perspective, while  keeping the security question as a mere facet of the political issues requiring a comprehensive treatment.

We shall begin with an assessment of the years of US occupation in Iraq, focusing on its repercussions, explicating its outcomes, and exploring the horizons of political evolution in this country after its ridding of dictatorship and foreign occupation.

Unlike other studies that dealt with the Iraqi issue from the perspective of its regional ramifications and repercussions, we have attempted, as much as possible, not to discuss the questions of Iranian and Saudi influences, or Sunni-Shi`a regional competition,  limiting the analysis to the manner in which "regime change", "state-building", and democratization were approached in US assessments of the Iraqi situation, while comparing them with the Arab conception of the same notions. We have linked all these issues to the quantitative and qualitative data of the occupation, the political and juridical structure of the troop withdrawal agreement, and the threats emanating from power vacuum and erroneous interpretations of the Iraqi situation.


Introduction

The security concern dominates most US assessments of the Iraqi situation. A quick review of the publications of American research centers and presses regarding Iraq is sufficient to convince us that security is the paramount question in the American assessment; studies and funding are dedicated to this dimension, and even educational curricula are dominated by it!     No wonder!  When the military troops of any country are engaged in war abroad, the security issue would understandably occupy the first place on the agenda, even if the broad objectives surpassed the mere preservation of security and stability to deeper changes touching on the political, economic, and legal structure of the country in question, as is the case with Iraq.

In reality, the withdrawal of military forces did  not  withhold the continuation of US involvement in "social engineering" in Iraq in the post-Saddam phase, and  the US supervision of the political and economic activities in the country through the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), which has replaced the office of the Inspector General for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA-IG). The SIGIR office was founded   after the abolishing of the Coalition Provisional Authority on June 28 2004 and the passing of law 108-106 by the US Congress establishing the office, which falls under the joint authority of the US State and Defense Departments, to whom it presents its reports on Iraq in addition to the Justice Department and the Congress. Therefore, Iraqi sovereignty, under these conditions, cannot be viewed outside of this general frame of dependence vis-à-vis the United States, unless the US withdrawal from Iraq also meant the halting of the SIGIR office's function, which was not directly mentioned by Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in his 28th quarterly report to Congress and the State and Defense Departments.

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