Panel 5c. Politics, gender and nostalgia in contemporary Iraq

Chair: Toby Dodge, LSE

Unintended Consequences: The U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Balance of Power
Carla Maria Issa, American University of Paris

This paper will aim to explore the consequences of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 in relation to the installation of a pro-Iranian Shiite regime and the consequences for the Sunni monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Many scholars and critics focus on the U.S. invasion of Iraq for the humanitarian, financial and legal questions it raised. With those points in mind, I will argue that the invasion more broadly was an effort to alter the balance of power in the region. While the invasion of Iraq segregated the country and unleashed an ongoing civil war, it offered a means of which to partition Iraq to American interests as well as offer an opening of relations with Iran. There are a multitude of geostrategic ways in which Iran and the U.S. can cooperate to secure the region. Especially in relation to the current crisis taking over Iraq and Syria, that of Islamic State of Iraq and Sham or Da’esh. With destabilizing events overcoming multiple neighbors of Iran, it is working hard to secure its interests and its position in the region. Iran would benefit both economically and politically from a nuclear deal with western powers and a warming of relations which begun with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Looking in the rear-view mirror: nostalgia for the monarchy of Faisal I in present day Iraq
Joy Samad, The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS)

Nostalgia for the pre-World War II monarchy is growing in contemporary Iraq. This is apparent not just from recent movies and novels, but also from the comments of senior Iraqi colleagues and my students at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Ali Allawi’s Faisal I of Iraq (2014) is the first serious political book which argues that the monarchy of Faisal I was superior to all subsequent Iraqi regimes. I used Allawi’s book in a class I taught in Fall Semester 2014. He argues that Faisal was a better King than his father, Sharif Hussein of the Hijaz, or his brother, Abdullah of Jordan. He was realistic and measured in his attempts to remove British control of Iraq, and in contrast to the ‘strident, volatile and angry nationalism’ that dominated Ba’athist Iraq (which appealed primarily to Sunni Arabs, and was intolerant of the Shi’a in southern Iraq, and the Kurds in the north), Faisal’s ‘mild and inclusive form of Arab nationalism,’ was ‘conditioned by his sensitivity to both the Shi’a and the Kurds.’ In religious matters, he was not a traditionalist, or an Islamist, or a secularist. ‘Neither the ulema nor Mustafa Kemal,’ Faisal sought to reform religious education and form a ‘modern-minded religious class.’ I will critically evaluate Allawi’s claims in my paper, and discuss the reaction of my students to his book, as seen in the essays they wrote in my class.

Political changes and their impact on Iraqi women
Malka Al-Haddad, Director of Women’s Centre for Culture and art

Iraqi women have became a victim of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, where rape and the ill treatments in jails and prisons as well as inhuman raids were (and still are) more common. Moreover, Iraqi women suffered heavily from torture while detained and imprisoned instead of their men (Sawsan al-Assaf). However, social reports have indicated that there is major increase in the divorce cases – doubled after 2003 – and this is continuing rise. In 2013, the US State Department released a report on human trafficking, in which Iraq was categorized as hotbed of human trafficking and smuggling. Under the occupation, Iraqi women lost most of their rights. They have been given a 25% quota in the political process. In 2014, many women from the Yazidi and Christian religious minorities have been raped and sold into slavery by the ISIS. UNP has distrusted 2173 to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Baghdad Governorate. Moreover, 66,000 women and girls have been displaced by the war in Iraq since Jun 2014. Recently, over 2.9 million IDPs have been registered as women in reproductive age and pregnancy (UNMY). This paper will explore Iraqi women’s rights and their political struggle, arguing that they have been exploited for propaganda by the American administration, the Iraqi constitution, Iraqi law, political parties and religion groups, and that their situation in the country is still deteriorating today.

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