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Iraq: From Crisis Hotspot to Promoter of Inter-Regional Dialogue and Reconciliation

2022 - current

The Middle East continues to face overlapping challenges spanning both the domestic and regional/international layers. Located at the centre of geopolitical clashes between conflicting regional axes, but also suffering from internal socio-economic and political fragilities and repeated instances of foreign meddling, Iraq is particularly exposed to many of these internal and external challenges. Yet, Iraqi actors have more recently pushed back against the depiction of Iraq as a weak and fragmented state unable to play constructive roles in the region, demonstrating their ability and willingness to promote intra-regional dialogue and de-escalation initiatives to dampen tensions and counter divisive sectarian trends. The European Union (EU) and its member states, which are set to assume increased responsibilities in Iraq during 2022-2023, maintain a strategic interest in the continuation of such regional dialogues and a more general stabilisation of the country and its neighbouring states. Against this backdrop, the research project seeks to assess how the EU and Italy can support Iraq’s identity as a regional hub for cooperation, mediation and peace in concrete policy areas? To answer this question, the project will look into practices on the (sub)national, transnational and regional level, including in the area of transitional justice, public health cooperation, cultural heritage protection, infrastructure connectivity, green energy, and transboundary water resources.

The project is co-led by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in close cooperation with the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and local researchers.

Funding: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo