Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

Iraqi imbroglio: the Islamic State and beyond

24 Nov 2014 - 15:27
Source: VOX, ESP Lift, Institute for the Study of War

The Islamic State has shown itself to be a formidable force through the extent of its support and the fear it sows, as well as its advanced communication and military capabilities. At the same time, it represents only the face of a much deeper political and security crisis in Iraq that stems from the poor quality of governance, the exclusionary operation of power and the intrusiveness of foreign interference over the past decade. This challenge has been made all the more complex by a legacy of strategic errors made by the United States (US) during its occupation of Iraq, by the neighbouring Syrian civil war on which the Iraqi conflict feeds and by Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

While this quagmire has no short-term solution, there are several actions the international community can consider to support the resolution of Iraq’s political crisis: i) creating an international mechanism to monitor political and security developments to improve the evidence base for policy and align diplomatic action; ii) initiating a regional security dialogue to reduce mistrust, create a better understanding of fears and interests, and avoid further escalation; iii) focusing financial support on humanitarian assistance by making a fair contribution to the various humanitarian appeals and by admitting a sizeable number of refugees; and iv) exploring the possibilities of a UN-sanctioned, Arab led peacekeeping mission to Iraq.

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