ISIS conflict highlights Iraq’s ‘Year of Rage’


iraq-civ-soc2“Iraqis are fed up,” Mieczysław P. Boduszyński writes. “Even as they wage war on ISIS they are also battling their own country’s corrupt and ineffective political elite.” Since 2015, Iraqis of all ethnic and sectarian stripes have been turning out en masse to protest against their political elite. Boduszyński explains in the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy:.

The demand for political change that began in 2015, while perhaps delayed by the fight against ISIS, is unlikely to be reversed. As of this writing, civic activists are debating whether to continue their protests or to postpone them until all Iraqi territory is liberated from the terrorist group. Alternatively, if sectarianism continues to be the legitimizing principle for Iraqi political parties, and corruption and poor governance continue to be the norm, the consequences will be grim. The Shia populism of Muqtada al-Sadr would promote further polarization, new groups feeding on Sunni marginalization might emerge, and pressures for Kurdish separatism would most likely grow—all of which would threaten not only the emergence of genuine democracy but the very survival of the Iraqi state.


Mieczysław P. Boduszyński, assistant professor of politics at Pomona College, has served as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State in Albania, Kosovo, Japan, Egypt, and Libya. He is currently writing a book about U.S. and EU responses to the “Arab Spring.” From 2015 to 2016, he returned to the State Department and served as political counselor at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah, Iraq.

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