The abrupt upheaval in Iraq’s leadership ranks is the greatest in its history as well as in the annals of the entire Middle East: from a single, all-powerful sovereign to a litany of rulers, leaders, and claimants to the throne; from the one and only Ba’th party to a vast array of parties, factions, and organizations. This essay analyzes the causes and consequences of this earthquake in Iraq and portrays the new elites which ascended to power. It argues that from the dawn of its existence, the Iraqi state’s various regimes and leaders have endeavored to establish a stable polity that could boast of internal unity and a supra-sectarian allegiance with a measure of historical continuity but failed to do so. Consequently, the question that begs asking is whether the new elites will succeed where their predecessors have failed.
This article is based on a paper presented at the June 8-9, 2009 conference entitled “Israel and the Arab States: Parallel Interests, Relations, and Strategies,” jointly held in Jerusalem by the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. The article discusses Israeli-Iraqi relations in the post-Saddam era, arguing that Iraq has distanced itself from its traditional radicalism and adopted a more pragmatic and moderate posture. Still, close ties between Iran and Iraqi Shi’a groups in particular threaten the chances for normalization between Jerusalem and Baghdad, while the U.S. ability or willingness to challenge Iran on this matter is limited. Also discussed is the positive Kurdish-Israeli relationship and areas of potential cooperation. At the same time, however, there exist Kurdish fears of negative reactions from non-Kurdish Iraqis and the Arab world and Israeli fears of antagonizing Turkey and jeopardizing its strategic partnership with it.
Volume 2, No. 1 – March 1998 CROSSING THE RUBICON?: IRAQ AND THE ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE PROCESS By Ofra Bengio Such reasoning sounds fanciful, but the question of Iraq’s stand on the Arab-Israeli peace process is both intriguing and more complex than it might seem. Given the crisis involving Iraq, examining this issue becomes […]