By Toby Dodge and Renad Mansour, for the Institute for Global Engagement. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Sectarianization And De-Sectarianization In The Struggle For Iraq’s Political Field
Iraq’s political system, an elite pact justified through ethno-religious consociationalism or sectarian apportionment (Muhasasa Ta’ifiyya), was created in the aftermath of invasion and regime change in 2003.
The system’s legitimation was based on a very specific understanding of Iraqi society and the role of elections in managing that society. However, this system did not prevent the
brutal civil war that raged in Iraq from 2004 until 2008.
Once the civil war ended and communally justified violence declined, other negative consequences of the system became increasingly apparent, namely the widespread and systematically sanctioned political corruption at its core and the institutional incoherence the system created.
A sustained post-civil war challenge to the system has come through a series of mass demonstrations, starting in 2009, but reaching their peak, in terms of size and ideational coherence, in 2019.
In the face of its unpopularity, the majority of Iraq’s politicians may have moved away from the overt promotion of sectarianism, but the political system still functions, as it has since 2003, with systemic corruption and coercion taking the place of sectarian ideology in terms of delivering elite cohesion and defending the status quo.