Baghdad: This March marks the 20th anniversary of the US occupation of Iraq, which brought about a new, unstable political regime not widely accepted by all Iraqis due to accusations of corruption, the decline of the economy and public services, the continuous interference of Iran, and military clashes between Washington and Tehran.
Since then, Iraq has been in perpetual state of chaos sparking the October Protest Movement a few years back which was spearheaded by Iraqi youth desperate for change.
Over the past two decades, the influence of Tehran and Washington has become clear, as the process of government formation is subject to their influences, despite their votes of the electorate.
This meddling began in 2010 when Iran prevented Ayad Allawi from forming the government after winning the elections, and it happened again in 2018 when the ballot boxes were burned.
This was repeated in 2021, when Muqtada al-Sadr won the elections but was opposed by Iran, forcing him to fight a civil war that led to hundreds of deaths and injuries. Al-Sadr was then forced to withdraw from the political process permanently.
Iraq is not a democracy
"The regime established in Iraq after 2003 was not democratic, but rather a state comprised of several components,” Iraqi politician Nadim al-Jabri, one of the authors of the Iraqi constitution in 2005, told Al Majalla.
Al-Jabri is the former Secretary General of the Virtue Party, one of the main Shiite parties that assumed state administration after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. However, al-Jabri now sees the situation differently and has become indignant about the new political regime.
According to al-Jabri, democracy is built based on civil parties, equal opportunity, and the just distribution of wealth. But it seems that Iraq’s various political parties only practice one of these pillars — elections. And as time has proven, polls can be easily manipulated.
While citizens have lost trust in the political system, they are also to partly to blame, according to al-Jabri, who points to their continuous rallying around their sects, clans, militias and regions. Overall, there is a clear lack of awareness regarding building state institutions.
He goes on to explain that since regime change was imposed on Iraq and did not happen naturally, many people still believe in dictatorship.
The security situation in Iraq has been abysmal, as extremist organisations —both Sunni and Shiite— have proliferated under the unstable regime. This sectarian conflict has raged for years under international cover, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.
Despite the state’s massive spending on security to the tune of $20 billion a year, mass executions of civilians are still being carried out — sometimes by Shiite militias and other times by ISIS.