After several early stumbles in his campaign, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will likely end up with a narrow plurality in a highly fragmented field.
Defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will offer Baghdad a fresh state-building opportunity to correct the mistakes following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. As Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds pursue their own interests, a serious effort toward communal understanding is the key to progress.
The end of the strongman era in Iraq has led to the rise of paramilitaries representing sects and ethnicities. Popular Mobilization Units have become part of the state’s official security structure. Although the PMUs have been instrumental in the fight against ISIS, their more powerful militias pose a stark challenge to the country’s future stability.
Supporting Kurdish groups in Syria could empower them to play a role in resolving regional conflicts, not just in Syria but also in Iraq and Turkey.
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi rarely allows himself to be seen in public, hence his nicknames the “phantom” and the “invisible sheikh.” A veteran journalist pieces together the story of the most feared jihadist leader since Osama Bin Laden.
An investigation of the chaos in Iraq and Syria.