Iraq : People, History, Politics

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The removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein and the reconstruction of the Iraqi state were critical components of US foreign policy towards the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11. It was hoped that Iraq, free from the oppression of Saddam's tyranny, would be transformed into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Iraq has indeed been transformed, but into a zone of instability. With Saddam's regime no more, Iraq has turned into a morass of competing ethno-sectarian political and social forces, in stark contrast to the views expressed by Western and Middle Eastern commentators alike before the US-led invasion, who commonly believed in the strength of Iraqi nationalism. Why did this fragmentation occur? Have Sunni-Shii tensions always been present? Are the Kurds seeking secession, or accommodation within the state? What has been the social and political impact of years of dictatorship, war and hardship? And why have US attempts to restructure the Iraqi state resulted in Iraq being on the verge of becoming a failed state, rather than the first democratic domino in the Middle East? In this timely new book, Gareth Stansfield explores these questions and frames them in an analysis which takes into account Iraq's diverse society, and the geopolitical interventions of regional states and great powers. He concludes with an assessment of Iraq since the removal of Saddam.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 1st edition
  • 9780745674056

Review quote

"If you want to understand why Iraq's problems seem so intractable, read Gareth Stansfield's superb analysis of Iraqi society and politics, the psyche of its peoples and the construct of its state." Tribune "An excellent modern history of this complex country ... Given the narrative and thematic span of the book, it is the best of its kind about modern Iraq to appear thus far since the fall of Saddam; it will be useful to a variety of readers with varying knowledge of Iraq and thus is recommended enthusiastically." Australian Journal of Political Science "The policy elite in the West needs exactly this kind of book to better understand the politics of this troubled state." International Affairs "Provides an enormously useful overview of four 'key debates' that have defined Iraq since its formation." Geographical Journal "As an academic textbook on Iraq, one could not really ask for much more in the current market place of pop-analysis ... Stansfield has no competition." Muslim World Book Review "A well-written and accessible introduction to Iraqi politics." Political Studies Review "Gareth Stansfield's Iraq is a unique piece of research on post-conflict Iraq; it is meticulous, profound and, more importantly, timely and cool. Timely, because the Iraq syndrome has become the main topic of debate worldwide, and new strategic choices could well be pending; and 'cool' because the heat of debate going on is generated by ideological discourses, political jockeying and partisan self-interest that partly at least distort the view. A cool-headed, multidimensional examination from objective scholars is a must." Faleh A. Jabar, Birkbeck College, London and Exeter Universities, and the Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies "This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about what is transpiring in Iraq and the modern Middle East; even specialists in Iraqi politics will find much to provoke new ways in which to view and understand the region." Eric Davis, Rutgers University Gareth Stansfield is Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix List of Abbreviations and Glossary xi Map xvi Introduction: Artificiality, Identity, Dictatorship and State-Building 1 Four Key Debates 2 Analytical Theme 4 Book Outline 6 1 Legacies of Civilizations and Empires 10 Ancient Civilizations 11 The Islamic Conquest 17 The Arrival of the Ottoman Empire 23 2 State Formation, Monarchy and Mandate, 1918-1932 26 The Artificiality Debate 26 The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire 30 Planning the Carve-Up 33 Occupation and Uprising 36 The Cairo Conference 43 The New State and Enduring Pathologies 46 The End of the Mandate 49 3 Conceptualizing Political Mobilization in Iraq 51 The Identity Debate 52 Nationalism 55 The Sunni-Shi'i Divide 57 The Kurds 62 Turkmens and Assyrians 70 Identity and the State 74 4 From Authoritarian to Totalitarian State, 1958-1979 75 The Dictator Debate 76 The Military in Political Life 81 The Role of the Military and the Communalization of Political Life 85 The Intensification of Anti-Imperialist Sentiment 88 Towards Totalitarianism 92 The Totalitarian State 96 5 Iraq at War, 1979-1989 99 History of Iran-Iraq Relations 100 The Kurdish War 103 The Decline into War with Iran 106 Iraq Advances 109 Iran Counterattacks 111 The Kurdish Threat 112 The Tanker War 116 The Political and Economic Impact on Iraq 118 Towards Kuwait 120 6 The Pariah State, 1989-2003 123 Towards War 124 The Invasion of Kuwait 126 Operation Desert Storm 128 The Uprisings 131 The Coalescing of Opposition Movements 136 Sanctions on Iraq 138 The Arrival of the Inspectors 141 Defection 143 The Failed Coups 143 The Opposition Defeated and Kurdistan Divided 147 Oil for Food 148 Sanctions Busting 150 Hide-and-Seek with UNSCOM 151 Towards Invasion 154 State and Society on the Eve of the Invasion of Iraq 156 7 Regime Change, 2003- 159 The State-Building and Democratization Debate 160 Operation Iraqi Freedom 163 The Chaotic Devolution of Political Authority 165 The Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council 167 The Transitional Administrative Law 173 The Iraqi Interim Government 175 Shi'i Rebellion and Sunni Insurgencies 176 January 2005 Elections 182 Constitutional Negotiations 184 The Referendum 185 December 2005 Elections 187 Staring into the Abyss 189 Conclusion: The Passing of Thresholds? 192 Making Sense of the Debates 192 The Government of Nouri al-Maliki 199 The Passing of Thresholds 202 Epilogue 205 Notes 209 Chronology 221 Internet Links 229 Bibliography 232 Index 249
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About Gareth Stansfield

Gareth Stansfield is Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.
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