Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights [October 24, 2011]   [open pdf - 435KB]

"After extensive sectarian conflict during 2006-2008, Iraq's political system is characterized by peaceful political competition and formation of cross-sectarian alliances, although often involving the questionable use of key levers of power and legal institutions. This infighting is based on the belief that holding political power may mean the difference between poverty and prosperity, or even life and death, for the various political communities. The schisms delayed agreement on a new government following the March 7, 2010, national elections for the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament). With U.S. diplomatic help, on November 10, 2010, major ethnic and sectarian factions finally agreed on a framework for a new government under which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is serving a second term. […] Iraq also is in the process of purchasing advanced U.S. military equipment, including F-16 combat aircraft, but the Administration states that training will continue using programs similar to those with other countries with no U.S. troop presence. The Administration asserts that Iraq's governing capacity is self-sufficient and that Iraq will be able to continue to build its democracy, enact long delayed national oil laws, and undertake other measures. Some movement on the oil laws has occurred since August 2011. However, the lack of a broader and sustained focus on governance, or on improving key services, such as electricity, created popular frustration that manifested as sporadic protests since February 2011. The demonstrations were partly inspired by the wave of unrest that has broken out in many other Middle Eastern countries, but were not centered on overthrowing the regime or wholesale political change."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS21968
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