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Why Is Iraq In Chaos?

Since October 2021, this Middle Eastern country has had a legislative blockade despite the tense calm that lasted until the end of August, when a great religious leader announced that he was withdrawing from national politics

Sadr supporters and the army

Photo: AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

LatinAmerican Post | David García Pedraza

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué Irak está en caos debido a una renuncia?

Iraq returns to the headlines of the major media due to the civil conflict that began in the last week of August. At least 35 people have died and 250 have been reported injured in the various clashes between government security forces and supporters of Muqtada Al Sadr. Al Sadr is a Shiite leader who has announced his retirement from politics, and is considered a leader by his militants, called Sadrists, for resisting the 2003-2011 invasion of his country by the United States.

Al Sadr, who is not part of any political party, has become involved in the thoughts of millions of Iraqis, especially Shiites, to the point that several experts on the Iraqi situation consider him a stabilizer of the population, but also an agitator. An example of his power has been the civil crisis in which the Asian country is submerged due to his statements saying that he is resigning from politics; many Sadrists did not hesitate to take over the Green Zone of Baghdad, the capital, where government buildings and embassies are located. Despite a belated call, Al Sadr ordered his followers to withdraw from the area, as the people were hurting themselves.

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Eleven years after an invasion that saddens the world

After the conviction at the UN by the United States that Iraq possessed chemical weapons that threatened world security, in addition to the attacks of September 11, 2001, Iraq became the new battlefield.

With the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Al Sadr gained momentum to create the Al-Mahdi Army, a group of militants who did not agree with the UN resolution to intervene in the country. Although Al Sadr welcomed the overthrow of Hussein, he has always been against the idea that a country other than Iraq would establish order.

After eight years of trying to establish a democratic and westernized Iraq, in addition to fighting Al-Qaeda, leaving the nation with a new constitution, and with more than 150,000 deaths (soldiers and civilians), the United States left trusting in the new society that was formed during those years. However, the plan did not go as expected.

Iraq was formed as a parliamentary federal republic, where the legislature would have the greatest burden of power and the prime minister would be the highest figure in the government, although there is also the figure of the president for ceremonial acts. Since the withdrawal of the United States in 2011, Iraq has had three presidents, currently Barham Salih, of Kurdish origin, and four prime ministers. In this aspect, it is evident that from the executive there has been compliance with not clinging to power. However, from the legislature, there has been a constant blockade to present and activate projects that little by little manage to stabilize Iraq socially and economically.

The return of the conflict and the imposition of calm

When it seemed that the West was gone definitively, the conflict in Syria returned troops from the United States and Europe to the Middle East, once again Iraq became a military base, this time to neutralize the Islamic State (ISIS). At this point, Iraq had some concern about the disintegration of its country, since the Kurdistan region strengthened its intention to become independent from the Baghdad government, the rise and spread of pro-Iranian militias and the ancient cultural disintegration of ancient Mesopotamia. The latter because ISIS was demolishing the temples and cities of this ancient civilization, finding them offensive to Islam, according to its radical interpretation, but also to sustain itself economically.

Iraq for three more years saw the destruction of its nation, despite the promise of the West that it would not happen again. It was until 2017, when the Islamic State was defeated in Iraqi territory, that the country was plunged into a tense calm, both social and political, to the point that Pope Francis made a historic visit to this territory in 2021, being the only time a leader of the Catholic Church has visited this country.

The Covid-19 pandemic also had impacts on Iraqi security. In March 2020, the withdrawal of some US troops was ordered in order to preserve the health of Americans. This was taken advantage of by ISIS, however there were no major battles.

Unfortunately, since the 20th century Iraq has become a symbol of repression, invasion, devastation, and war, these have not been the best years for this nation. Possibly the panorama will continue to get worse for this country since, currently, this nation has geographical, ethnic, cultural, and religious disintegrations, problems to which the executive nor the legislature have given proper care.