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Iraq on the edge

Published:
1 January 2010
Region:
Middle East and North Africa
Topics:

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Iraq on the edge

This is the final report that monitored conflict risk in Iraq from the 2003 invasion until 2010 parliamentary elections. The report examines twelve social, economic and political/military indicators, tracking developments in incremental periods over a total of 84 months. The objective was to assess progress, or lack thereof, following the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The result was to be a democracy that would become a beacon to the Middle East. Instead of a democracy, terrorism soared, a sectarian civil war broke out, oil production plummeted, and public services declined. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed. This report wants to assess whether the shattered state could achieve sustainable security—the capacity to solve its internal problems peacefully without an outside administrative or military presence. This study suggests that as U.S. combat troops prepare to leave, Iraq remains a highly fragile state that has not yet achieved sustainable security; it suffers from a host of unresolved problems, lingering disputes, sectarian rivalries and institutional deficiencies that have been downplayed by the media and top decision-makers. If not addressed adequately, these factors have the potential to plunge the country back into civil conflict. Based on the trends identified in this study, the most likely near-term scenario is an unstable coalition between the Shia and Kurds, with some Sunni representation, and the creation of a ruling elite that will contain competing factions and repress opposition using a considerable security establishment: about 1 out of every 30 Iraqi citizens is a member of a military or police organization.

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