Iraqi civil society groups and activists are criticizing parliament for attempting to pass a bill that would restrict freedom of expression and rights to protest and assembly.
Violent extremism flourishes in societies where the government is seen as corrupt, weak, and illegitimate by its population, according to a new report from The Task Force on the Future of Iraq.
“The United States can most effectively tackle violent extremism in the long term by pressing the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to better meet the needs of the Iraqi people,” the report states. “In the short term, this must involve supporting free and fair provincial and parliamentary elections.”
The report offers a strategy for how to build on the success that the Iraqi government and its coalition partners have had in liberating areas once occupied by ISIS, in order to bring about a lasting defeat of the extremist group and to and secure US national security interests in Iraq over the long term. It demonstrates that a stable Iraq is critical to US national security interests because:
- A secure Iraq will limit the capacity of terrorist groups both in Iraq and the wider Middle East
- A strengthened Iraq will be better able to resist Iranian interference
- A economically vibrant Iraq will reduce the influence of radicalism, and will strengthen regional economies including key US allies such as Jordan
In pursuit of a strong and stable Iraq, the report recommends that the United States:
- Publicly commits to engaging in and supporting Iraq in the long term
- Focuses on improving governance, thereby strengthening the legitimacy of the Iraqi government
- Strengthens the Iraqi economy, by encouraging economic reform and international investment
- Continues training and equipping Iraqi Security Forces beyond the defeat of ISIS
- Mediates between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government
By pursuing these steps, the Task Force hopes that it will be possible to prevent the country from becoming vulnerable to resurgent extremism in future. RTWT