Will Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki defy efforts to replace him? Will it break apart into several separate states? Should its neighbors do more to challenge the militants rampaging across the border with Syria? And are we giving this group legitimacy by acceeding every time their leaders change the organization's name -- "Islamic State" or their earlier moniker, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"?

20140812_USIPIraq_Chat.jpg
USIP Iraq experts answering questions on Twitter on August 12, 2014.

Experts from the Iraq program at the U.S. Institute of Peace tackled these and other questions in a chat on Twitter on August 12. Manal OmarElie Abouaoun, Sarhang Hamasaeed, Raya Barazanji, and Khitam Al-Khayhanee connected with people around the world using the hashtag #USIPIraq.

Government in Transition

NPR’s Deborah Amos asked whether it is important that both the United States and Iran pressure al-Maliki to step down, saying that “Maliki still seems up for a fight.” Manal Omar responded that his peaceful transition is so important that the U.S. should leverage any relations it has to encourage him to step down without violence.

A Fractured Iraq?

Emily Bennington posed a question on the minds of leaders around the world: 

USIP’s Raya Barazanji and Manal Omar both replied that Iraq’s constitution may help keep the country together.

Joel Wing, author of the Musings on Iraq blog, also chimed in:

Find the full conversation here.

Regional Response

Lara Jakes, a writer for the Associated Press, asked why Iraq’s neighbors have not responded more directly to counter the Islamic State.

Responses to her question varied, with USIP’s Elie Abouaoun replying that some powers are trying to use the Islamic State to further their own agendas and NPR’s Amos noting that many are hedging to see what happens after Maliki’s departure.

IS vs. ISIS?

The militant group calling itself the Islamic State has expressed its intention to create a new caliphate stretching across the Middle East, beginning in Syria and Iraq. USIP staffer Nathaniel Wilson wondered whether referring to the group by their preferred name confers a sort of undue legitimacy, sparking a long exchange that began with Sarhang Hamasaeed’s response.

Other interesting questions included:

To see all of the conversations, check out the entire #USIPIraq archive.

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