U.S. Government Presses Iraq to Maintain Reform Efforts

April 29, 2016• Iraq• by EW News Desk Team

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Iraq this week to support ongoing reforms of the central government, according to the Associated Press. Biden praised Iraq’s progress in forming a cohesive government, but the Shia-dominated political system has faced criticism for corruption and persecution of the Sunni population. Iraq’s economy is under siege in the wake of ISIS incursions and lower oil prices.

President Barack Obama withdrew forces from Iraq in 2011 after Iraqis declined the continued presence of the U.S. military, but Obama sent troops back to Iraq in 2014 as ISIS rose to prominence.

Biden said that political instability was more at fault at receding Iraq's gains than military shortfalls, and the problem lies far deeper than an ISIS presence, as sectarian conflict brings the nation to ruin. The Shia-Sunni conflict is responsible for much of the violence and turmoil plaguing Iraq, with Shia forces rivaling the brutality of Sunni-based ISIS in some cases.

Additionally, the Iraqi government is borderline dysfunctional, and other nations in the region have refused financial assistance until Iraqi officials make additional improvements. American leadership is particularly interested in Iraq due to the nation’s fight against ISIS, and a government collapse would mean an extremist takeover.

Iraq can be described as a three-state country, which is why Biden proposed the division of Iraq into three separate territories of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd when he was a senator. The British originally conceived the nation of Iraq shortly after World War One, grouping together opposing factions into one central state.

After Saddam Hussein's ousting, the country devolved into an untenable situation involving political vacuums and terrorist onslaughts, and the disbanding of the Baathist political establishment at the hands of Western powers made matters worse.

A post-Saddam Iraq proved to be a booming business venture for some oil companies, especially Chinese oil firms, but overseas business leaders found themselves in a tough position as Iraq struggled through a divided political landscape. For instance, Exxon Mobil signed an agreement with the northern Kurdistan Regional Government, but isolated the Baghdad government in the process.

It appears that Iraq will never forge a unified front, which is why Biden’s partition plan would be a suitable course of action at a time of rampant conflict, and all territories would stand a better chance of relative peace and economic security. A unified Iraq, however, would need an overall stable environment to secure additional investment, but corruption and endless fighting have stalled vital investment endeavors in key areas, such as infrastructure and the job market.

Moreover, the investment that has taken place has largely benefited the Iraqi government and foreign companies at the expense of citizens. Many Iraqis have suffered through numerous power disruptions and a lack of opportunities, which have proven to be a breeding ground for terrorist recruitment, while preventing Iraq from progressing further.