The 2003 invasion of Iraq was not the major cause of the violence that followed and the creation of the ISIL militant group. The policies that were implemented after the invasion are to be blamed the most for Iraq and Syria's current conditions, where they lie in pieces (Alaaldin, 2018). President George Bush's administration fostered sectarian divisions and created permanent insurgencies. At various points along the way, the administration headed by Bush made various choices, which aggravated sectarian violence and tension in Iraq, setting the nation on a path which was the main cause of its breakup (Younis, 2011).
In the decades before the invasion, the country's political passions were centered on socialism, big landlordism, and anti-colonialism. The vacuum that the United States created in Iraq's power distribution encouraged the politicians in the country to play on sectarian passions in ways that had no rivals (Ali & Khalaf, 2018). An insurgency was likely to happen, and its effects would be felt in Iraq for decades to come.
The public and the journalists did not credit or understand the social forces of Iraq with the capability to act individually. They, however, focused on the military movements of the United States, with Iraq having a dispassionate analysis that was abandoned for baseless blame games (AlMarashi, 2013). After the invasion in 2003, administration officials headed by Bush pushed aside the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and supported the Shiite operatives.
The Sunni Arabs had dominated the regime of Saddam Hussein for a long time using the Baath Party that had been in power since 1968, and they were finally dissolved (Al-Qarawee, 2014). Shiite allies of Bush, such as Nouri al-Maliki and Ahmad Chalabi, formed a commission that sacked almost 100,000 Sunni Arabs from government works.
The outbreak of the insurgency after the invasion of the United States in Iraq was as a result of policy failure (Boduszynski, 2016). The U.S. policy mistakes, especially the fact that it deployed few troops than expected, lack of adequate planning of its politics and military powers, disbanding of the Iraqi military, and the fact that it did not establish a government that would take over Iraq after the disbandment of the former president.
Violence in Iraq post-2003 has many ideological and political facets that discuss mainly the way that the Iraqi constitution was formed and adopted made many minorities to advocate for violence against the government and the support it provided (Byman, 2008). The logic to adopt violence against the government of Iraq can best be explained in the situation of struggles of the local power among the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority.
Growth of Sectarian Violence
Many scholars argue that the US did not handle the transition of democracy in the Iraq War well. The dynamics that existed between exclusions of groups beginning from the lack of political competition, the Iraqi constitution that was discriminatory to most of the minority groups in the country, are to be blamed for the instability of Iraq (Cockburn, 2008).
Certain provisions in the constitution excluded the Sunnis leading to the use of violence to acquire various positions of power. Although Iraqi violence has sectarian dimensions, the 2004-2005 period when the constitution was accepted in the country marked the adoption of a unique character to subvert the Iraqi government (Cole, 2015). In Iraq, violence is supported by the Sunni minority against the government that is led by the Shiite majority.
In 2004, Bremer who had been appointed by the administration of Bush to ensure that Iraq's affairs were in order before a stable government was formed installed a government that was headed by Shiite Ayad Allawi with his government inheriting various security challenges especially the First Battle of Fallujah (Dodge, 2005).
The decisions that were made after the government was formed created violence, which intensified as the years continued, but the violence dates back to 2004-2005 (Haddad, 2016). The Al-Qaeda in the country bombed the Shiite mosque because it sensed that the Sunni community would tolerate its actions. The Sunnis sought power in other places after it lost its political power due to the democratic process that was instilled in the country by the United States.
The local conflict made the outside states more powerful, and they used proxies to ensure that their interests were achieved. The Sunni group in Iraq felt more marginalized by the constitution imposed on them by the United States, and they adopted the use of violence to disrupt the government that they saw as illegitimate (Hagan et al., 2015). Iraqi violence is attributed to the consequences of the political developments that took place after the 2003 war. Since then, violence has been a common thing in Iraqi politics with increasing trends that threatens the political authority of the state as well as its social order and territorial integrity.
Political Competition and Democratic Stability Theory
Professor Joseph Wright invented the theory of political rivalry and democratic constancy, which is insightful in new democracies. According to Wright, violence, and instability in new democracies occur due to political competitions (Haggard & Long, 2007). A more substantial competition that is nonviolent in the beginning stages of democracy is equal to a steady democracy in the long run (Isakhan, 2017). Wright argues that the initial competition in politics incorporates competitive elections that create governments that are more stable.
With this theory in mind, it is evident that the violence in Iraq can be attributed to the fact that Sunnis never participated fully in political creations of the new democracy of Iraq (Isakhan, 2015). The National Assembly had the task of drafting the constitution and used only one Sunni to represent 20% of the population in Iraq. However, more Sunnis were added, but they were assassinated and forced to resign. The committee mandated to design the constitution went ahead to do so without the Sunnis (Kirmanc, 2013). The Sunnis disapproved of the referendum for the constitution. However, it was still adopted, causing suspicions of the intentions that the Shiites and Kurds had causing problems in the period of the elections.
The Debaathification law also restrained Sunni leaders from running for office, and their turnout was low in 2005 due to the intimations and violence they experienced in the period before the elections (Kuoti, 2016). Fraud and manipulation was a major cause of the Sunnis participating in violence. Other major causes of the violence include the government's power structure, unfair representation, and irregular provisions of the constitution.
Rise of Militant Groups
In the years after the invasion, Iraq faced various humanitarian crises, with more than two million people being displaced. The United States tried to create some order through the installation of a new administration but made various mistakes that changed Iraq into a country of instability and violence (Mako, 2019). Insurgency groups emerged, and the United States' ability to deal with the insurgents was limited by the decision that Paul Bremer made for Iraq. As the collapse of Iraq continued, ethnic and religious differences increased with sectarian and religious tensions growing over the years.
The initial developments of Iraqi politics in 2004 and 2005 were exclusionary for the Sunnis as debathification policies and a lack of representation for Sunnis in the Committee and the National Assembly and the process of writing the constitution were the main causes of the exclusion that led to the violence in Iraq (Meiser, Heye & McKee, 2018). Since then, Iraq has had tragic levels of instability and political violence along religious and ethnic lines, which are associated with corruption, cronyism, ineffectiveness, and patronage.
For the country to deal with the rising levels of violence, the leaders in Iraq must support radical changes in the structures of the institutions and their political system. The de-Baathification policy left many people unemployed, and a high percentage of them joined the insurgency and the Sunni militants who protected the army (Nasr, 2006). The United States disbanded the Iraqi military leaving a security void, making it easy for extremist insurgencies that seized almost a third of Iraq.
In early 2006, the al-Askari shrine was blasted, symbolizing the beginning of the sectarian tensions. The bombing activated ferocity in Iraq for many years, with the tensions being oppressed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Pavel, 2012). Al-Zarqawi was jihadi from Jordan, who came from Afghanistan to Iraq, where he leads the al-Qaida. He caused bombings, beheadings, and kidnappings and was killed in mid-2006 by a United States airstrike. Failure of the government to trail up the ISI permitted it to reconstruct.
The extremist movement engaged tens of thousands of Sunnis with others away from the borders of Iraq, expanding to Syria in 2013 (Saghieh, 2007). At this point, the group rebranded to become the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Although the Iraqi army had more numbers, it crumbled, and by 2014, ISIS started controlling a third of Iraq (Sassoon, 2010). The reign of ISIS was followed by rape, executions, abductions, extortions, smuggling, and seizures of resources owned by the state. The growth of ISIS split Iraq and steered to foreign interventions for the second time, and within no time, uncertainty made Iraq more exposed to rivalries, both regional and international.
Alaaldin, R. (2018). Sectarianism, Governance, and Iraq's Future. Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, (24). https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Sectarianism-governance-and-Iraqs-future_English.pdf
Ali, Z., & Khalaf, S. (2018). Southern discontent spurs an Iraqi protest movement. Current History, 117(803), 338-343.
AlMarashi, I. (2013). Iraq's security outlook for 2013. Italian Institute for International Political Studies, Milan. https://www.ispionline.it/sites/default/files/pubblicazioni/analysis_197_2013.pdf
Al-Qarawee, H. H. (2014). Iraq's Sectarian Crisis. Carnegie Middle East Center. https://carnegieendowment.org/files/iraq_sectarian_crisis.pdf
Boduszynski, M. P. (2016). Iraq's Year of Rage. Journal of Democracy, 27(4), 110-124. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/633757/pdf
Byman, D. (2008). An autopsy of the Iraq debacle: policy failure or bridge too far?. Security Studies, 17(4), 599-643. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09636410802507974
Cockburn, P. (2008). Muqtada al-Sadr and the Battle for the Future of Iraq. Simon and Schuster. http://www.kurdishprogress.org/the-crisis-in-iraq-patrick-cockburn
Cole, J. (2015). How the United States helped create the Islamic State. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/11/23/how-the-united-states-helped-create-the-islamic-state/
Dodge, T. (2005). Iraqi Transitions: from regime change to state collapse. Third World Quarterly, 26(4-5), 705-721.
Haddad, F. (2016). Shia-centric state-building and Sunni rejection in post-2003 Iraq. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. https://carnegieendowment.org/files/CP261_Haddad_Shia_Final.pdf
Hagan, J., Kaiser, J., Hanson, A., & Parker, P. (2015, September). Neighborhood sectarian displacement and the battle for Baghdad: A selffulfilling prophecy of fear and crimes against humanity in Iraq. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 675-697). http...
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