Iraq : a deeply divided polity and challenges to democracy-building

Bapir, Mohammed Ali (2010) Iraq : a deeply divided polity and challenges to democracy-building. Information, society and justice journal, 3 (2). pp. 117-125. ISSN 1756-1078


In the post-2003 Iraq, democratization and state building have contradictorily overlapped with dramatic consequences. The major constraint to Iraq’s statebuilding project is the misfit between identity and sovereignty of the state in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country where the construction of a new national identity (i.e. Iraqi) is sought at the expense of eradicating other existing identities (i.e. Kurd, Assyrian). The Iraqi state is seeming foisting the identity of the ruling majority Shiite-Arabs composing 65% of the population, thus marginalizing the identity of minorities such as the Kurds who constitute 20% of the population. Further, Iraq’s religious diversity and, precisely, the sectarian cleavage between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, impose serious challenges to the notion of democracy and democratic transition. This paper shows that in Iraq, democracy and nation-building have resulted in majority rule in a way that marginalizes minorities and dissenting voices. The processes of state building and democratization, it is argued, are intertwined and their challenges overlap and interlinked, making democracy a contested subject in the Iraqi context.

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