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.
Following USIP’s event “Iraq and Syria: Views from the U.S. Administration, Military Leaders and the Region,” Mike Yaffe provides key takeaways from the panel featuring CENTCOM Commander General Votel, USAID Administrator Green, and Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS McGurk. "Iraq and Syria are complex and starkly different from one another," says Yaffe, "but the key goals are the same: concentrate on defeating ISIS and work by, with, and through local people to stabilize each country."
With last year’s military rollback of the ISIS-declared caliphate, U.S. security and Middle Eastern stability require some way to establish governance in Iraq and Syria that meets the needs of their peoples, according to U.S. administration and military leaders, Iraqi officials and regional experts speaking on April 3 at USIP. During a day-long examination of strategy to stabilize the region and prevent a revival of ISIS, U.S. special presidential envoy Brett McGurk said President Trump’s March 30 order to freeze spending on post-combat recovery efforts in Syria “is not hampering our work in the field.”
Just days after returning from Iraq, Nancy Lindborg shares her impression of the improved landscape in Iraq after ISIS’ brutal occupation. Lindborg describes the unifying sense of Iraqi pride following ISIS’s ouster, but she cautions that if the government fails to become more inclusive and accountable, Iraq could fall back into a highly sectarian environment.
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.