Shattering the Shia: a Maliki political strategy in post-Saddam Iraq

Isakhan,B 2015, Shattering the Shia: a Maliki political strategy in post-Saddam Iraq. In Isakhan, B (ed), The Legacy of Iraq: From the 2003 War to the ‘Islamic State’, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, pp.67-81.

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Title Shattering the Shia: a Maliki political strategy in post-Saddam Iraq
Author(s) Isakhan,BORCID iD for Isakhan,B
Title of book The Legacy of Iraq: From the 2003 War to the ‘Islamic State’
Editor(s) Isakhan, BORCID iD for Isakhan, B
Publication date 2015
Chapter number 4
Total chapters 14
Start page 67
End page 81
Total pages 15
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Place of Publication Edinburgh, Scotland
Keyword(s) Iraq
Summary This chapter argues that one key legacy of the US effort to bring democracy to Iraq has been that many elements within Iraq’s Shia Arab political elite have viewed democracy through the lens of a cynical majoritarianism and manipulated it to catapult themselves to power. This has had a further legacy, enabling the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to utilise his incumbency to maintain the veneer of democracy while becoming increasingly dictatorial and authoritarian. In doing so, Maliki’s government shares much in common with other ‘hybrid regimes’ in which governments hijack nominally democratic mechanisms such as elections, media freedoms, political opposition and civil society as part of their strategy to retain, rather than diffuse, power (Dodge 2012b, 2013). Although Maliki hasdeployed a host of different strategies along these lines – including blatant sectarianism, undermining key state institutions, the creation of a shadow state loyal to himself, and the concentration of military and political power in his own hands – this chapter focuses on Maliki’s less well-known efforts to shatter the unity of his Shia Arab political opponents. It focuses on his first two terms in power and examines the ways in which he has been able to systematically fracture the Shia political elite to such an extent that once tenuously united factions now stand bitterly divided. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the reasoning behind such an approach and the prospects of Iraq’s democracy moving beyond the blatant power grab of the incumbent Malikigovernment.
ISBN 9780748696161
Language eng
Field of Research 160602 Citizenship
Socio Economic Objective 940201 Civics and Citizenship
HERDC Research category B1 Book chapter
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