David Schenker is the Taube Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Program on Arab Politics. He is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Articles & Testimony
Shortsighted squabbles between the KDP and PUK may soon wind up sending the country back to elections—and the threat of Iranian political domination.
For Washington and other supporters of a sovereign and prosperous Iraq, the October 2021 parliamentary elections were a success. Contrary to expectations, Iranian-backed Shiite Islamist parties and their militias were defeated at the ballot box. The Hashd lost not to Western-oriented candidates but to another credible local Shiite party whose leader’s hashtag, #NeitherEastnorWest, was an unambiguous call for an Iraq dominated by neither Tehran nor Washington. The election results mitigated toward the establishment of a new, majoritarian government capable of pursuing better governance and an independent Iraq. It’s cruel irony that this potential outcome, a longstanding U.S. aspiration, appears to have been undermined in part by Washington’s best friends in Iraq: the Kurds...