Twenty years on from the US invasion: Reflecting on drivers of conflict in Iraq

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq.

PeaceRep’s Iraq research, led by Taif Alkhudary and Prof Toby Dodge at the LSE Middle East Centre, examines both the short-term and long-term drivers of conflict that continue to destabilise Iraq, causing both intra-elite and wide-scale violence. We work in collaboration with Iraqi researchers to understand three key themes:

  1. Demographic change and conflict: the role of demographic change as a driver of conflict, as well as the role that youth and popular politics can potentially play in creating long-term stability.
  2. Geopolitics and the changing climate: regional battles over natural resources and water scarcity as drivers of instability.
  3. Politically sanctioned corruption: the impact of state and intra-sect fragmentation on corruption and political violence.


The role of opposition parties in consolidating democracy

In a new PeaceRep report published this week by the LSE Middle East Centre, Taif Alkhudary presents key findings and recommendations for policymakers, focusing on the role that prominent opposition parties – Al Bayt Al Watani and Imtidad – can play in consolidating democracy in Iraq.

Report: Changing the System from Within? Opposition Parties & Democracy in Iraq Post-2019

These opposition parties are faced with corruption and a lack of political freedom as the elites persist in protecting their own interests, fearing a loss of the power originally granted by the US. In a blog post shared in October 2022, Taif Alkhudary describes in more detail how coercion, co-optation, and sectarianism have been utilised by Iraq’s sectarian power-sharing system, also known as the Muhasasa Ta’ifia, in attempts to crush opposition from the grass-roots parties that gained parliamentary seats in Iraq’s 2021 elections.

Blog: Fragmentation of Iraq’s ‘Protest Parties’ amid the Muhasasa System’s Resilience


Popular Mobilization Forces post-2022

Simona Foltyn has authored a forthcoming PeaceRep report; Between State and Non-State: Popular Mobilization Forces during the 2022 post-Election Crisis. In a recent blog on the same topic, published by the Boston Review, Simona describes how the militarization of politics continues to destabilise Iraq decades after the US invasion.

Blog: Iraq, Twenty Years Later (Boston Review)


Political trust and social cohesion

In other recent PeaceRep reports, Juline Beaujouan and Amjed Rasheed have shared findings on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on political trust and social cohesion in Iraq, as well as the role of religious institutions in the prevention of violent extremism.

Report: Political Trust and Social Cohesion – The Impact of COVID-19

Report: The role of religious institutions in the prevention of violent extremism


PeaceRep publications on Iraq will be complemented by a series of events to be held in Iraq and London, bringing research findings to wider audiences. Events will include film screenings, exhibitions and collaborations with Iraqi activists.

Learn more about PeaceRep’s Iraq research

Learn more about the LSE Middle East Centre

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