The period from July 2017 to May 2018 could prove transformational for Iraq. In July 2017, Iraqi government forces liberated Mosul from Islamic State (IS). In the aftermath of that victory, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani pushed ahead with a referendum on Kurdish independence to enhance Erbil’s bargaining power in its disputes with Baghdad. This backfired and instead the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered Iraqi forces into Kirkuk, the disputed territory between Baghdad and Erbil, in October 2017.
These momentous events form the background against which Iraq will vote in the May 2018 national elections. This vote will not only decide if Abadi gets a second term, but also whether Iraq has moved beyond the divisive sectarian rhetoric that has dominated the country’s post-regime change politics.
This first of three workshops brought together Iraqi political analysts and decision-makers with other experts on Iraq. The workshop examined the major dynamics that will shape Iraqi politics going forward and drive the relationship between Baghdad and other regions of Iraq, as well as between state and society.
Workshop Proceedings providing a summary of the presentations and discussion were published in Arabic and English.
A series of memos written by workshop speakers was also published on the Middle East Centre Blog.