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The Struggle for Iraq's Future

The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy

ZAID AL-ALI
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vksw1
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  • Book Info
    The Struggle for Iraq's Future
    Book Description:

    Many Westerners have offered interpretations of Iraq's nation-building progress in the wake of the 2003 war and the eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country, but little has been written by Iraqis themselves. This forthright book fills in the gap. Zaid Al-Ali, an Iraqi lawyer with direct ties to the people of his homeland, to government circles, and to the international community, provides a uniquely insightful and up-to-date view of Iraq's people, their government, and the extent of their nation's worsening problems.

    The true picture is discouraging: murderous bombings, ever-increasing sectarianism, and pervasive government corruption have combined to prevent progress on such crucial issues as security, healthcare, and power availability. Al-Ali contends that the ill-planned U.S. intervention destroyed the Iraqi state, creating a black hole which corrupt and incompetent members of the elite have made their own. And yet, despite all efforts to divide them, Iraqis retain a strong sense of national identity, Al-Ali maintains. He reevaluates Iraq's relationship with itself, discusses the inspiration provided by the events of the Arab Spring, and redefines Iraq's most important struggle to regain its viability as a nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19853-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Map
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 2013, politics in Iraq reached a new low. Apart from the usual depressing failures in terms of services, corruption, security and the environment, a number of other developments finally revealed the full extent of the government’s incompetence.

    For several years, the security services have used a small handheld device to detect explosives, known as the Advanced Detection Equipment (ADE) 651. These devices were purchased at a desperate time: car bombs had already claimed the lives of thousands of people, and there was an urgent need to improve security measures. Physical searches were effective but were far too time consuming...

  5. CHAPTER ONE A LEGACY OF OPPRESSION AND VIOLENCE
    (pp. 17-38)

    A thousand years ago, Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, was the world’s most important centre of knowledge and learning. It was home to scientists, physicians, translators and philosophers, some of whom travelled from the far reaches of a vast empire to participate in the most advanced intellectual discussions that were taking place at the time. The city was established in the year 762 as the Abbasid caliphate’s capital, from which it ruled over the entire Middle East, including the whole of modern-day Iraq, much of North Africa and large parts of Asia.

    With over a million inhabitants, it was said...

  6. CHAPTER TWO ON THE ORIGINS OF IRAQ’S NEW POLITICAL ELITES
    (pp. 39-74)

    Before we look in depth at how the new Iraqi state was constructed after 2003, the principal actors must be properly introduced. Aside from the various individuals that the Bush and Blair governments placed on the ground to steer and implement policy in Iraq, a number of former exiles played a key role both before and after the invasion.

    For decades the US and the UK had been cultivating allies among the Iraqi exile and opposition groups. As they prepared to invade Iraq, they called on those groups, realizing full well that, if they were going to occupy the country,...

  7. CHAPTER THREE CREATING A NEW POLITICAL ORDER
    (pp. 75-102)

    Two months after its establishment, the CPA was desperate to be seen to be making progress in improving security and transferring sovereignty back to an Iraqi administration – something that would require the drafting of a new constitution and the organizing of elections. At the same time, the US also wanted to exert some control over the process, in order to ensure that its major interests (whatever those were) were protected. Practically speaking, this meant that the US wanted to maintain some control over which Iraqis would administer Iraq when sovereignty was transferred, who would draft its constitution and what the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR A COUNTRY BACK FROM THE DEAD
    (pp. 103-124)

    Large-scale acts of violence flared up across the country as soon as the US military occupied Baghdad. These often took the form of kidnappings, assassinations and sabotage, but worst by far were the bombings of busy markets, which often targeted poor Shia areas.

    There were many culprits, including surviving elements of the former regime, newly formed militias and Sunni extremist groups, some of which developed strong links with al-Qaida. Despite all the images of bloody destruction and the calls for revenge, for a time the country’s Shia clergy and other community leaders successfully counselled mourners to exercise restraint and not...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE DEFECTIVE POLITICS
    (pp. 125-160)

    Despite the clear message that voters delivered to politicians in 2009 and 2010, talks between the country’s major political alliances failed before they even began. Politicians the world over are perfectly content to undermine each other; but the tactics that were used in Iraq in 2010 were without parallel.

    Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding de-Baathification and the manner in which it was set in motion by the CPA in 2003 (see Chapter 2), Ahmed al-Chalabi and his colleagues remained in charge of the process for years, and often sparked anger with their decisions. In mid-January 2010, two months before the crucial...

  10. CHAPTER SIX A COUNTRY LEFT TO LANGUISH
    (pp. 161-188)

    The failed constitutional order and the country’s defective politics were not merely abstract concerns. As politicians obsessed over their incessant and violent power struggle, they deprioritized virtually everything else, including a number of long-standing problems that were literally threatening the state’s existence. These included rocketing unemployment, the decrepit public services (electricity, water, education), a failing framework to protect human rights that was exacerbating security risks, corruption and environmental disaster. Solutions were desperately needed – additional investment, new legislation and regulations, as well as mechanisms to invigorate the private sector. It was all achievable, because Iraq had sufficient funds for any investment...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN THE RAVAGES OF CORRUPTION: THE SECOND INSURGENCY
    (pp. 189-218)

    Since 2003, Iraq has witnessed an alarming rise in corruption. The international watchdog organization Transparency International has ranked the country near the bottom of its global corruption perceptions index for three years running – in 2012, it came in at 169 out of 174. Billions of dollars have been embezzled and public investment projects have either been ignored or have floundered while the population has suffered.

    Graft was so out of control in 2006 that Stuart Bowen, the US special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, referred to it as the ‘second insurgency’.¹ Corruption in today’s Iraq, albeit more dramatic than in...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT THE THIRD INSURGENCY: ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
    (pp. 219-242)

    If corruption is Iraq’s second insurgency, then the collapse of its environment since 2003 is its third.

    From 2005 onwards, it became increasingly frequent for meetings with friends or colleagues outside Iraq to be delayed for several days at a time. At first the reason given tended to be security related, but more and more often a new explanation crept in:‘ajaj, the Iraqi term for a dust storm. When they did arrive, friends would apologize profusely, but it was clear that they were relieved to have left the dust behind.

    Over the years, security became less of an impediment...

  13. CHAPTER NINE WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
    (pp. 243-256)

    Given all the failures, the disappointments and the crimes committed, there is an important question that must be resolved: was Iraq’s downward spiral after 2003 inevitable?

    Some western and Iraqi analysts argue that it was, and that Iraq’s ethno-sectarian divisions lie at the heart of all the country’s difficulties. In their view, at the end of the First World War the British forced three communities (the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds) to live together in the same country, even though they had nothing in common – bar a long history of antagonism and hatred.¹ According to them, the violence that rumbled on...

  14. ENDNOTES
    (pp. 257-280)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 281-288)
  16. Index
    (pp. 289-296)