The Ideological Evolution of Iraq’s Sunni Political Elite

The political and institutional utilization of identities in Iraq following the US-led invasion and occupation (2003) produced a major scholarly emphasis on ethno-sectarianism and its implication for the country’s political and economic stability.

Today’s Iraq is faced with its most diverse and complex political environment. Identity politics dominate every aspect of life; society, economy,religion, and international relations. We are even witnessing different identities overlapping with one another, in contradiction with their own political ideologies or respective agendas. For instance, in the early stages of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, there was a generalized sentiment that Sunni Arab Iraqis disfavored the change due to their dominance and privileges during the former Ba’athist rule, in contrast to their Shi’a countrymen. The latter found this as an opportunity to finally take the lead in a post-Ba’athist Era. Today, due to evolving political dynamics, we are witnessing a Shi’a-led anti-USA camp calling for sovereignty to its majority and hegemonic power against a Sunni-led camp promoting against the withdrawal of the US troops. This is one example that makes one wonder whether ideologies drive politics or vice versa? Or is it an interdependence that develops according to the present needs? The alliances established between secular and traditional ideologies were either defined as opportunistic conveniences or common foundational traits.

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Iraq, Sunni Political Elits, US Invasion, Ethno-Sectarianism

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