Iraq’s Struggle for Democracy

Issue Date April 2023
Volume 34
Issue 2
Page Numbers 150–162
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Read the full essay here.

Iraq’s experiment with democratization rarely receives the attention it deserves, having been tarnished by association with the misbegotten U.S. invasion. This essay reflects on the progress that has been made over the twenty years since the invasion and on the challenges that lie ahead. It argues that although Iraq is plagued by corruption, armed actors, and rising poverty and inequality, it is not condemned to failure. Iraq has held regular parliamentary elections since 2005 and is a positive outlier in the region. Although today it stands at a crossroads between democratization and multiparty authoritarianism, there is cause for hope that its youth and civil society will pave the way for reform.

About the Author

Marsin Alshamary is a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy. Her recent publications include the 2021 essay “Religious Peacebuilding in Iraq: Prospects and Challenges from the Hawza” in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.

View all work by Marsin Alshamary