‘Prospects of State Building in Iraq ‘


 Another chapter in the post-Mesopotamian history is being written as the country reels from its violent contemporary past, aspiring to create a working democratic process. How can that be achieved? What are the chances of success? What are the impediments? And how will the various forces at work (the Americans, the British, the Iranians, the Saudis and the violent groups) deal with the largest functioning democracy in the Arab World? These questions will be   highlighted by  Professor Charles Tripp, who is renowned for his interest in and valuable work on Iraq .

Charles Tripp: Thank you very much for inviting me. I am going to talk about the rebuilding of the central state in Iraq. Since 2003 so many things have happened which have been so terrible to the Iraqi people. One of the things one has to think about is how far, to what degree and in what way will the state of Iraq be rebuilt to give possibly a better life, one hopes, for the Iraqi people themselves.

What has happened in the last six years could be prefaced by an Iraqi friend of mine who said: “Thank you very much you have got rid of one Saddam but you have left us with 50 more”. In other words a notion of devolved and violent power which has been one of the terrible stories of Iraq in the last six or seven years.

In  order to think about how we imagine and how we understand  the rebuilding of the central state in Iraq,  one of the things to think about is a distinction I made in my writings between  what I call the public state and the shadow state,  which has been in many senses a feature of various periods of Iraqi history. Certainly under Saddam Hussein this was  a very notorious feature in the way in which power was organized.

You always had  a public state in Iraq,  one which is thought of in terms of the institutions of government, the armed forces, ministries of health and education and so on. But behind it you had something else: a shadow state. A shadow state not because it was insubstantial but because it affectively was the place where power was located.  It was not located in public institutions, it was located in the networks of association, friendship, maybe provincial origin, maybe a long record in the Baath Party or whatever it was. It was an organization that stood well behind the institutions of the Iraqi state.

I remember in the times that I used to go to Iraq when it was ruled by the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein it was always a bit confusing when you went to interview officials to know who was the real person you should be talking to in the room. So you would be talking to the general but you had a horrid feeling that the major who was sitting on his right and to whom he was very deferential was the one who really counted. So you had graphically displayed in a sense the difference between the public state and the shadow state.

 One of the terrible features of Iraq’s  history over the past 20 years  was that for 13 years Iraq was subjected to punitive sanctions by the international community. The effect of that in theory was to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and  force him to change his ways.

But in fact the actual effect of the sanctions was to destroy the public state in Iraq. It was to reinforce the shadow state. So what effectively happened under the years of sanctions was that the ministries of public health, education, communication, the armed forces themselves were degraded and behind it was  the network of the people who were trusted by Saddam Hussein. Their power grew and all Iraqis became dependent on them.

It is quite good to have that as a background because when one talks about the rebuilding of that state of Iraq what you have to think about is what is being rebuilt and how. And one of the features since 2003 was quite troubling in some respects.

On the one hand very many elements of the old shadow state remained not because they loved Saddam Hussein and wanted to restore Saddam Hussein but for many Iraqis trying to survive Saddam Hussein meant having to draw upon and create the networks  that were with them in the shadow state. And effectively even when Saddam Hussein had gone,  the terrible conditions of military occupation and war meant that many Iraqis fell back upon the old networks that allowed them to survive.

One could argue that the whole characteristic Iraqi  resistance as it emerged in 2003 – 2004 was precisely the way in which the Iraqi army, which had been disbanded and dissolved fell back into the units  that made it operate originally. In other words the units of people  recruited from one village, from one area, from one tribal grouping whatever.

So elements of the old shadow state emerged. But of course new networks established themselves in Iraq, colonizing the ministries, colonizing the institutions that the Americans created, creating for themselves if you like new networks of power behind the public institutions.

So the picture in many ways was a picture of public institutions that had no authority and no power but behind them other kinds of associations and networks that had immense power often based upon localities and local communities but often presiding over a very ruthless local politics.  One  of the results that came out of this was a sectarianism that came out of local competitions  for power. I don’t believe it came out religious feelings. It came out of often very fierce  competition for local power.

What happens when you get from 2003 to 2008 in thinking of what the implications are for how you rebuild the state. One feature is the falling down of power in Iraq into the local level, often used quite ruthlessly.

The other feature was that the British and the Americans in the way that they occupied Iraq and the way they administered Iraq reinforced that. And the way they reinforced it was that as one saw the Americans in particular (the British were more detached in some senses) became very impatient with Iraqi national politics. They had very little time for it. It was troublesome, disputatious and difficult to deal with.

They would much rather deal with local power, at least some of them would. This was partly influenced by their experience in Kurdistan. Kurdistan after all since 1991 had been a very good example for the Americans (and also a bad example at certain times) of what happens when you deal with local power figures, power brokers. You bribe them, you cajole them, you draw them into a system where you reward them and in a sense you create a fairly resilient system of power. For many Americans if they could recreate Kurdistan across Iraq  that was the way in which Iraq would be controlled and order. So in many ways that was the thrust of it.

In 2006 – 2007 the White House effectively vetoed many of those plans. Some of those plans were actually implemented by Peteraus in the early days when he was in command of Mosul but they were banned by the central authority, the Bremer centre in Baghdad and they were vetoed by Bremer. But Bremer and the White House and the Defense Department in America had no alternative plan of how to control power in Iraq.

And one of the results of that was that by 2006 – 7 Iraq was in the grip of a civil war that the Americans could not control.It was  getting out of hand as far as the Iraqis and the Americans were concerned.


So one of the interesting things is that with the collapse of the American strategy in Iraq in 2006 – 2008 you see the reemergence of Petarus with his plan for the recreation of local power. One of the ways in which he does this is the patronage of the tribal militias, the awakening councils.


So by the time you get to the end of 2007 there is something like 200,000 men under arms. Hitherto many of them had been part of the resistance, part of the old Iraqi army who were  gathered now effectively into these forms of local power in Iraq, to turn on Al Qaeda or whoever else was trying to intervene in aspects of Iraqi politics.


In a sense you could argue that the Americans were playing, as the British had done in the 1920s, a curious double game in Iraq. That is why the dual state of Iraq emerges. On the one hand you create it and encourage the emergence of public institutions. On the other you  do deals with local power brokers which often undermine the public institutions themselves.

And of course violence was a key part of the game. Violence was how you got recognized by the Americans. You may be recognized in an unpleasant way and get bombarded but then they do a deal with you. In other words violence was the way you state your claim to be a political player in Iraq. In some senses, and its not altogether inept now, when you look at 2007 – 2008 but now as well you have an image of power in Iraq as a table around which there are ten chairs. In the middle of the table is a huge pot of gold coming from oil revenues. But effectively there are 20 people competing to sit at those chairs and killing each other to sit at them.

 So effectively what one saw during the period 2003 – 2008 was the process of a ferocious competition to be the ones to sit at the top table of Iraq and therefore have a share in the wealth of Iraq and control of Iraq. Once you get to the top table it doesn’t mean you trust anyone else at the table but you recognize them as being fit to be there. They may use terrible means to get there but in that sense you take them all the more seriously.

It is against  that background that I want to have a look at the re-emergence of the central state in Iraq in the last year and a half and the role that armed force has played in that and what some of the consequences might be. There are three areas I want to turn to. One is how Nouri Al Malaki has actually organized the re-emergence of the central state in Iraq and what kind of central state that means – the re-creation I would argue of a dual state once again, a state of public institutions and a state of the shadows.

Secondly what the implications are for the authority of the state and to see what the local elections mean in that context of early that year. And thirdly to get a sense of the condition of the Iraqi military and the role that they have been playing in that particular  re-assertion of the central state.

The first thing  that one has to notice about the first point is that in 2007 – 8 Nouri Al Malaki was a rather depressed man. He said at the end of 2007 that if somebody else wanted to be the prime minister of Iraq he would not say no. You have to be very careful of politicians how say they do not want the office they hold.

He was having a very difficult time. The power of central government was declining, the Americans were being increasingly demanding, there was the civil war and  insurgency. There was a real challenge to any attempt to recreate or re-establish the control of Baghdad over the rest of Iraq.

And yet behind it Nouri Al Malaki knew that there were many who felt about the state of Iraq much the same as he did. They didn’t necessarily share his particular ideology of Al Dawa, they didn’t necessarily like the fact that he had been in Syria or was with the Americans but there was a sense in which they had something in common with him as he was against federalism, he was an anti-federalist. I would argue that Nouri Al Malaki remains a very strong centralist in a quite recognizable Iraqi political tradition who believes that the power of the Iraqi state as expressed in the center should be dominant and that it  is the best guarantee of the welfare of Iraqis and the security of the state itself.

But his major allies in the government were federalists: the Kurds on the one hand and Al Hakim’s outfit on the other. So there was a real problem. He had to operate as a centralist from a basis  which technically, in terms of the coalition government, in terms of the representation of parliament was still federalist. So one of the answers was to develop the shadow state, to realize that he would get nowhere if he just dealt with the public institutions of the state. He would have to recreate his own shadow state behind him.

And there is evidence of that in 2007 – 2008. You can see transfers and dismissals from the Ministry of the Interior  and the arrests of people from the Ministry of the Interior on the pretext that they were old Baathists. But when you looked at many of the people arrested, dismissed or transferred they were in fact allies of Al Hakim.

Equally he began to reassert his control of the Ministry of Defense and there you see the attack on the Kurds, on Kurdish nominees, people who he regarded as being an obstacle. It wasn’t just against the Kurds or Al Hakim – it was to put his own people in. From that basis it is very clear that he was determined right from the very beginning to control the armed forces.

And he set up the office of the commander in chief and regional offices which control transfer, promotion, arrest and dismissal throughout the armed forces. Whatever the Minister of Defence says it is the office of the commander-in-chief which he controls from the prime minister’s office which is the determining office as far as peoples military careers are concerned.

He not only controls  promotion prospects and military careers,  he also controls two armed forces: the Baghdad Brigade and the Counter Terrorism Task Force. Two of some of the best trained units of the Iraqi Armed Forces.

I spoke to an American officer  who was involved in the training of the Baghdad Brigade and he was tearing his hair out because he felt  that here is a unit the Americans invested a huge amount of time and money in making an effective professional military force and he saw it as  being taken over by the prime minister’s office. He said that at the time the prime minister’s office was arguing to develop an air capability which would be the envy of  Gordon Brown and his troubles.

So you have a prime minister’s office which is not just a prime minister’s office. It has military officers at its disposal, military units at its disposal and has its eyes on more. And in 2008 Malaki  uses them.  One of the interesting things about 2008 if you look back at the history of Iraq is that  it could be seen as the year of the re-conquest of the provinces.

In 2008  you have four military campaigns launched from the center – from Baghdad, directed by Nouri Al Malaki and his allies in the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces. One is the January –  May 2008 campaign in Mosul. Not tremendously successful but enough to re-establish the presence of central power in Mosul in the north. In March/ April you have the operations in Basra against the militias that are hostile, against Jesh Al Mahdi but also implicitly against Fadillah and the other groups that are part of it.

So in a sense you get the determination to  re-conquer the south in a way that in the beginning didn’t work very well and he had to call upon American help to bail him out. He  didn’t call on the British to help him because he felt that they were too compromised in the deals and networks they had set up across the south to be effective partisans of his re-conquest.

 In May – June 2008 you see the re-conquest of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad. The taking on, head on of aspects of the Jesh Al Madhi some would say sometimes with the connivance of Muqatadar Al Sadr himself,  sometimes against him. But impressing on Muqatadar Al Sadr and those who followed him that Malaki was a force to be reckoned with and would not hesitate to use military force to do so.

In the latter part of 2008 you have the campaigns in Dialya. And the campaigns in Dialya  were quite significant because ostensibly they were being undertaken to suppress insurgency but practically they were being undertaken to give the Kurds a bloody nose, to re-establish a central Baghdad control over the province of Dialya.

So there was a sense in which there was a re-conquest at stake and in many ways therefore this was the vindication of Nour Al Malaki’s re-assertion of control of the armed forces.

That was not the only thing he was controlling. The other thing he controls are the intelligence services. Under Saddam Hussein, there were about seven different intelligence services. Some of them were watching each other, some of them were watching other bits of the armed  forces, some of them watching other bits of Iraq.

 Some would say a similar position is emerging in Iraq now and from the prime minister’s office the control of the intelligence service often by people  from the prime minister’s own home region.  The people you trust implicitly.

So in a sense you begin to see that same idea of  familial trust, networks of trust, whom do you trust in a world that is deeply perilous.  I do not blame him. If you are an Iraqi prime minister who wants to re-establish  your control over  Iraq as a state this is part of your state craft. If you don’t do it the chances are that you will disappear. So in a sense it was a very calculated aspect of it.

The second thing is the provincial elections of 2009. Having had that campaign of military re-conquest in 2008 you then look at how the central government is trying to re-establish its authority through provincial elections. There is some truth in this. One has to be very weary of provincial elections. They are very often drummed up by the media and other interested parties in the west as a great flurry of democracy in Iraq. But one has to be very weary.

I would argue that the provincial elections were in a sense a culmination of the military campaign of 2008.  In other words, although it is quite unorthodox to see them as such, the military campaigns of 2008 were in a sense part of the election campaign. Not explicitly but they re-established the power of the center where it counted. In many senses the elections gave the Iraqi people the opportunity to express protest against the people who had controlled them up to that point, who they did not feel represented them in any case.

And when they looked at what Malaki and his party  and his coalition was becoming, it is not surprising that many people in all parts of Iraq supported him but not unquestioningly. It is not that he won overwhelmingly but certainly became a major electoral force in the provinces.

The provincial elections were seen by many people as being both the vindication and the culmination certainly in southern Iraq of his campaigns of 2008 but possibly giving us a taste of what is to come in the general elections of perhaps January 2010.

There are two things which are important in that. One is the fact that the federalist parties were the losers in 2009 and they will be possibly in 2010. In other words a notion that those who want to divide Iraq into federal states or mini states or whatever are the ones who are going to have a really difficult time in that election.

And the other is of course that he has   established himself as a credible centralist in Iraq – someone who is concerned about Iraq as a whole and not just his party and his community.  Somebody who is concerned about law and order as he called his party alliance. This  may be something that appears in the general elections later this year or at the beginning of next year.

Where local elections didn’t happen is also significant for the future – Kirkuk and in a sense therefore what one has to think about the future of Iraq is  where is it that that kind of strategy doesn’t work. and perhaps cannot work at the moment. And clearly there is a concern and a question about Kirkuk.  There is perhaps even a greater concern and question mark over Mosul and the  province of Nineveh and what happens there.

So the status of the Kurdish region is very uncertain. A weakening of the Kurds main ally in the south, Al Hakim’s outfit. Some Kurds have argued that the high point of Kurdish power in Iraq has already been reached and it is all down hill from now. A sense of a decline of Kurdish power. And it is reinforced by the fact that within Kurdistan itself there is a real politics of protest emerging particularly against the families of Barzani and Talabani.

It is most  obvious in the Talabani areas, in the areas of the Patriotic Union of  Kurdistan where challenge to the old order, the old establishment, the shadow of state of Kurdistan is more obvious.

Finally there is the question of the rebuilding of the national army and the American commitment to the rebuilding of the national army of Iraq was in a sense very similar in rationale, purpose and the way in which it was done to the way in which the British set about rebuilding the army in the first place. One the one had they had technical problems, getting people to master new equipment.

But as an American officer said the problems were not so much equipment.  The Iraqis are as good as operating military equipment as anyone. They have a very  professional military tradition, they are very professional people in the armed forces. The problem is  political. Political from the top in  the interferences of people  who are shifted if their careers are either too successful or too disloyal, too professional, if they are standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So there is a feeling that you train people very professionally and suddenly they are shifted from the job that they are trained to do and perhaps sidelined and what affect that has is problematic.

And the other is the political problem at the grassroots level. Which units of the Iraqi army do you use in which areas of Iraq without either  provoking terrible feelings of sectarian or ethnic hostility or  seeing them melt away into the neighbourhood.

So if you are using the army in other words primarily as an internal policing force which it is being used as at the moment you have to be  very careful which communities to use it against and which units to use. So   those calculations have been a clear part of it.

And yet of course  for the Americans there is a clear feeling that one way they are going to get of Iraq is to feel they have left behind a powerful army and a center that can exercise control through control of that army. It gives the impression in other words that the Americans haven’t left behind a disintegrating state but something that has a certain solidity, a certain meaning.

But as one could see there are problems in this. Just recently the Americans for instance found themselves drawn into the operation in Baghdad against the Sons of Iraq Council and Nouri Al Malaki found troublesome in the extreme.

So there is a sense in which almost inevitably the Americans are having to back what some people see as an increasingly central but also ruthless policy from the centre. But one of the reasons for that is precisely because of the American determination to draw up the strategic forces agreement with the Iraqi government.

And  in 2008 there were these extravagant claims about what the Americans wanted to see in the agreement that they left behind in Iraq. They were going to control Iraqi air space, they were going to launch military operations on Iraqi soil, they were going to detain Iraqis without reference to the Iraqi judiciary and they were going to have immunity not only for American servicemen in Iraq but also for effectively the mercenaries, the 15,000 to 20,000 private security forces who happened to be American in Iraq itself.

All of those demands were jetissioned one by one over the course of 200, sometimes by very judicious leaking on the part of the Iraqi authorities who managed to quite obviously work up a degree of opposition to these somewhat outrageous demands.

So in the end the actual agreement that was signed was very anadine and very easy for an Iraqi government to live with. As you can see recently in the killing of at least two or three civilians in a military operation launched by the Americans in Amarra there was a dispute. And it is clear that the Americans thought they  could go through the local military commander and not operate through the centre. He said that is fine, I have no problem with you launching the operation. But Al Malaki was not consulted and he felt that the central government had not authorized it. And there was a row.

So in that sense the Americans are so keen, and this  particularly accelerated  with President Obama in office , to create a timetable for respectable withdraw. We  now know the date of the American withdrawal.

So thinking about those processes we have talked about: the reemergence and  the recreation of the centre,  what are the the implications for the future. I think there are three areas I want to leave you with to think about.

One is the political impact of the military developments that  I have been describing. In other words those military developments may be perfectly understandable – there was a military insurgency, there was a civil war, there was terrible violence by Al Qaeda and others in Iraq so quite understandably the building up of Iraqi security forces to ensure the security of the Iraqi people has been a key part of Al Malaki’s strategies.

But one has to think at the price that may be paid in the future by the way that has been done. What I am looking at here and getting echoes of is the way in which the Iraqi military acts in the future as a political actor. It is very interesting if you talk to some Iraqi military officers  to observe their  notion of admiration for the Americans, for their professionalism, for their military know how, for the training they have had, a feeling that they are being developed as a professional, proper military force.

This is a kind of sczrophenia. On the one had they don’t want the Americans in their country, they don’t want Americans to occupy their country. There is another sense of schrophenia. While they quite admire the notion of a strong, central Iraqi government and are quite willing  to serve a strong central Iraqi government because they see their enemy as the militias  as does the central government, they are also aware that here is a government that can end their careers, that can shift them around, move them around, as in old days. You have to be on the right side of the prime minister to have a flourishing army career. It is not enough to be a professional military officer.

So something that has certainly been a feature of the Iraqi military since 1921- a feeling of esprit de corps, a feeling of professionalism, a feeling of identity of wanting to get on with the job but also a feeling that they are part of the political situation that both calls on them to act as internal security policemen, conquer a province, go down here which inevitably politicizes them and their men and also makes them subject to political control.

You can  set them against a background of decolonization, the gradual, perhaps reluctant withdrawal of American influence from Iraq. I see a problem in  future partly because  of what I know about Iraqi history. What politicized the Iraqi military in the 1930s and in the 1950s was not that military officers decided to become political actors. It is that politicians drew them into it. They used the military as short cuts for their political projects and then they played politics  with appointments in the military itself.

And the military often reacted by saying it is the middle man and took over the government entirely. And that has not had a happy effect on Iraqi history. And I also see this if you think about Iran’s history and also the Middle East more generally.  Those officers who became the activists who took over the government in Egypt, in Libya in Iraq itself and  to some extent in Syria were all the product of an external intervention, French or British. They admired the professional training they had. This is seen in the case of  Gamal Abdul Nasser, Muammar Al Qadhafi and  Abdul Karim Qasim, but at the same time they were nationalists with a complete contempt for the civilians politicians and a real resentment of the old colonial power.

I am  not saying that this will be played up but there is a feeling that that dynamic may have been restarted.

The second thing to think about is the authority of the central state. What we talked about was the power of the central state and power exercised through military force. But I think there are about three question marks hanging over the authority of the central state.

One as I have alluded to already is about the Kurds and their attitude to the central state. Do they really think that the authority of Baghdad will count  for  anything in Kurdistan in the future. And there is a problem here partly because  of the way governments in Baghdad have acted towards their Kurdish populations but also because after effectively after 15 – 16 years of virtual independence there are many Kurds who do not see themselves as part of Iraq. There are many Kurds who don’t speak Arabic. There are many Kurds who refuse to speak Arabic. There are many who see the future of Kurdistan as lying outside Iraq itself. There is the question of how  that will be managed. It is not necessarily fatal but it is a problem for the authority of the central state.

The second problem for the central state is if you return to that old image I had of the table of ten chairs and the twenty people killing each other to sit at it. Even if eventually there are ten chairs occupied by ten people the question we have to ask is how representative are they of the people they claim to represent: how stable is their hold on the chair itself.

And secondly how long does it take for the ten people round the table to begin thinking the share would be greater if we only had six around the table. And so in a sense the alliances of opportunities that emerge there.

And finally there is the question of the authority of the state in terms of the  class resentments of Iraq. And in much of the writing about Iraq over the last six or  seven years so much has been geared  to ethnic and sectarian conflict as if all the Iraqis had on their mind was their religious identity or their ethnic identity.

There are other things as in other countries going on in Iraqi politics and  it is not just about that. One of the things it may be about is class resentment. The feeling by people that they are being left out , they are being ill considered at a time when unemployment is incredibly high, at a time when public services have not only been degraded but not much has been done to restore them. When a feeling that those who are in power have unaccountable access to wealth that actually belongs to the nation but most of the nation has no access to it.

A feeling of a class  politics. A politics not of the old 1950s Communist Party of Iraq but a feeling of feeding into it. You could argue that  that is evident in the  Sadarist movement to some extent.  It is certainly evident in the politics of Kurdistan as well. The notorious case where the Kurds  protested on the anniversary of the terrible massacre at Halabja by Saddam Hussein and the poisonous gas. A memorial museum was built and the people of Halabja burned it down.  The  people of Halabja burned down a memorial to their own suffering. They said they took the occasion to burn it down when all the black limousines of the Kurdish leaders turned up at the museum and they rioted. They said this is outrageous. For a whole year you do nothing about housing, you do nothing about sewerage, you do nothing about  public services and yet once a year you come here to bask in our suffering. And the chased off the men in the black limousines  quite sharply. This is a kind of vignette but it illustrates that there is another set of resentments.

The third theme to think about for the future is whether Iraqi politics can ever be the politics of Iraq alone again. There are strong reasons for thinking that it cannot be, at least not for a very lone time.  Three major powers will continue to seek Iraq as part of their national security strategy: the USA. The idea that the USA even if it withdraws its troops from Iraq in two or three years times will withdraw its influence or its interest in what happens in Iraq strikes me as very naïve.  The British after all gave independence to Iraq in 1922 but they didn’t exactly keep their fingers out of the pie until they were cut off by the revolution of 1958. So one has to think what effect that will have in terms of the creation of clients, in terms of the creation of forces with Iraq itself.

The second is Iranian preoccupation with Iraq.  Different parts of the Iranian political establishment see Iraq in very different lights. Many of them agree that one of the main preoccupations of Iran in Iraq has actually been America. One might argue that the apparent success of the surge of American troops in 2007 was the fact that Iran began to change its policy. It began to realize that if you made Iraq the battlefield with the power of the great satan America would never leave. It would not actually discourage them. On the contrary they would see that as a direct challenge to their power.

If however  you collaborated on the resolution of some of the problems in Iraq, if you gave the impression that Iraq was  a potentially stable place there was  far less of an incentive to stay on.  This is a contributing factor – not the only factor but something that plays into it as well.

You  also have the  concern about different parts of the Iranian political establishment and what you might call loosely Shia power in Iraq: the power of certain parties, certain clerics, the question of the reemergence of Najaf and Kerbala as opposed to the power of Qom, a sense in which different strands in Iraq are thought to be congruent with different strands in Iran.

There is also the question of Kurdish autonomy which preoccupies certain parts of the Iranian political establishment so much that they shelled quite cheerfully a number of Kurdish border villages last year just to remind the Kurds that however autonomous they become they should not be a base for the KDPI – The Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran.

And finally there is Turkey as well and its views on Kurdistan. One part of this is its view that bases are used by the PKK, the Kurdish nationalist guerrilla group that operates in south-east Anatolia and frequent Turkish  military incursions to prevent that from happening.

But also of course the question of the future of Kurdistan as an independent state which I would argue is something the Turkish military and political establishment will always veto. It  is not so much about Turkish direct intervention except perhaps to deal with the PKK but what kind of relationship they establish to ensure that independence isn’t on the cards.

So you can see what I mean by can Iraqi politics, even with a relatively strong central government in Baghdad ever be that of Iraq alone again. And I think with a strong patrons, with people willing to use actors inside Iraq for proxy struggles, Iranian and Turkish politics as well the formal structure of the state will be maintained and reinforced but it will be vulnerable to regional competition and regional turmoil.

So one has to get a feeling about what kind of state if coming into being but also the vulnerabilities of that state to what happens inside Iraq and what happens in the region as a whole.

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