At a time when Iraqi politicians, supported by the US and other western governments, argue that only the walls and moats dividing Iraqis can guarantee security and that military solutions will eliminate Daesh, Iraqi citizens not only disagree but have proven there are alternatives. Iraqi protesters have made clear that walls and moats exist largely to sustain the sectarian system installed in 2003. They do not protect citizens. In fact, citizens can be safer together, regardless of their sect or ethnicity. What is needed in Iraq is an end to sectarianism and to restore Iraqi national identity and the rule of law. These demands cannot be delayed until Daesh and extremism are defeated; on the contrary, political reform and the restoration of a shared national identity are the best strategic means to confront Daesh and extremism in Iraq and the region.
Paper produced within the framework of the New-Med Research Network, October 2016.
1. Moats, trenches, checkpoints and walls are drawing new de facto borders inside Iraq
2. Iraqi national identity: Does it exist?
2.1 The spirit of localism and Bedouin values
2.2 The rise of national identity in response to external threat
2.3 External factors: The “New Middle East” and regional discord
3. The Tahrir Square uprising of 2011, the Iraqi intifada of 2016, and Iraqi national identity
3.1 The political discourse of Tahrir Square
3.2 Madaniyya vs. secular