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.
USIP in Iraq
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- Nancy Lindborg on the Defeat of ISIS in Mosul
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- Analysts: Tehran Sees Liberation of Mosul as Victory for Iraq and Iran
- Winning the peace in Mosul
A failure by the international community to help rebuild Iraq will leave a vacuum that Russia, Iran or some new extremist group will seek to fill, warned the co-chairman of a working group in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. In a recent discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Ekkehard Brose agreed with the top U.S. State Department official on Iraq, Joseph Pennington, that Iraq must ultimately solve its own problems. But at this point, it can’t, Brose said.
As U.S.-backed Iraqi troops retake the last strongholds of the Islamic State in Iraq, the government in Baghdad and its international supporters must be ready to prevent a new round of conflicts in the country from turning violent, analysts said in a June 27 forum at the Heritage Foundation.
The farming region of Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, is divided by one of Iraq’s most turbulent fault lines of conflict, between the country’s Sunni and Shia tribes. A decade ago, this region of palm groves and irrigation canals was a violent al Qaeda stronghold known as the “Triangle of Death.” Yet for 2016, news reports and the United Nations’ accounting of nearly 7,000 or more civilian deaths across Iraq noted few attacks in this region, a reflection of its relative stability in recent years.