Iraq has been ravaged by cycles of warfare, a massive refugee crisis, crippling sectarianism, and the violent spread of the self-styled Islamic State. As the U.S. military helps roll back ISIS, stabilization will require Iraqis to mediate and resolve the complex communal conflicts that long have weakened their state. Since 2003 the U.S. Institute of Peace has provided financial and technical assistance to civic groups and government institutions involved in peacebuilding efforts. Current initiatives include local reconciliation in ISIS-liberated areas, support for Iraqi minorities, helping facilitate police-community dialogues, and informing policy discussions. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Iraq.
Four months after Iraq held elections, a new government has yet to form as the majority Shia factions remain divided. Sarhang Hamasaeed discusses the complicated route to forming a government and the recent unrest in Basra aimed at the current government for its failure to provide electricity and other basic services.
With Iraq and Iran sharing a 900-mile border and deep commercial ties, the renewal of U.S. sanctions against Tehran without doubt would be felt in Baghdad. To what degree the Iraqi economy could end up collateral damage of the sanctions, however, requires detailed analysis.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst said that despite Americans’ weariness with U.S. involvement in Iraq, concerns about terrorism and regional stability make a continuing military commitment in the country a necessity. “Our first and our highest priority must be to ensure that the Iraqi government has the equipment and the training to conduct sustained and resilient counterterrorism operations,” Ernst said at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
For almost a decade, the U.S. Institute of Peace and its Iraqi partners have supported ethnic and religious minority communities in Iraq as part of the Institute’s broader mission of helping the country strengthen communal and institutional resilience. Employing innovative approaches to peacebuilding, USIP seeks to empower minority groups including Christians, Faily Kurds, Kakayees, Sabean-Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Eyzidis (Yazidis) to solve inter-communal disputes, and to advocate at all levels of government for their rights, access to services, and security.
Diplomats and peace practitioners often cite lack of familiarity with the religious landscape as a barrier to their engagement of religious actors. In 2013, USIP launched an initiative to address this need by developing a methodology for systematically mapping and assessing the religious sector’s influence on conflict and peace dynamics in discrete conflict settings. These mappings, which have been done or are underway in Libya, South Sudan, Iraq and Burma, help illuminate recommendations for effective partnerships within the religious sector for peacebuilding.