West Iraq: The Search for Leaders and Leverage

Against the background of reports that the so-called Islamic State (IS) is losing its hold in Iraq and Syria, homeland security experts in the United States and Europe have been quick to note that the threat this group and its followers pose is simply changing its form. In Iraq, which straddles the fault line between its two major sects of Islam, resolving the gathering maelstrom of violence is a key priority not only for the country, but for the region as a whole.

A massive deficit in trust handicaps the Baghdad government today, which an astonishing 75% of Iraqis view as hopelessly corrupt. Even as some of the territory lost to IS since 2014 returns to Baghdad’s control, the same searing question persists about whether the Shi’a-dominated government, under considerable sway of Tehran, can co-exist with Sunni Arabs, given that a majority of them complain of second-class treatment.

The aftermath of the imminent Mosul campaign raises a number of issues; namely, how to guard against corruption and sectarianism, and how will the citizens of the Sunni-majority regions gain a greater stake in their own destinies than they’ve been allowed to date?

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