Iraq

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, politics across the state has been imbued with increasingly sectarian characteristics. One of a small number of Shi’a majority states, Iraq was ruled by members of the Sunni minority until 2003. The history of Iraq is one that is replete with sectarian fears of the other, but such fears are also caught up within efforts to construct a national identity and broader geopolitical concerns about the penetration of the state. From the time of Faisal, the country’s first monarch, Sunni rulers have viewed Shi’a groups with consternation, perceiving Shi’a clerics – and by extension Iran – to possess a de-stabilizing influence. Post 2003 with the establishment of a government led by Nouri Al Maliki, Shi’a interests were placed above collective Iraqi interests, leading to increasingly precarious political life and, when taken alongside a number of other factors, the rise of Da’ish.