Iraq after ISIS: Divide it or Fix it?

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More than two years after fighters from the Islamic State  (ISIS) captured the city of Fallujah, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) liberated the embattled city last Sunday, paving the way for the long-awaited march against the group’s largest stronghold in Mosul. Although welcome news, the war is far from over. Even if Iraqi forces can uproot ISIS from Mosul before the end of the year, suicide bombings and guerilla attacks remain a grave threat throughout the country.

However, the real challenge lies within. Politically, Iraq is starkly divided along ethno-sectarian lines. This rough split between a Shi’a majority in the south, Sunni majority in the west, and an autonomous Kurdish region in the north led the post-2003 order to adopt a kind of confessional governing system, through which key leadership and mid-level bureaucratic positions are apportioned to each group. Yet this system is widely seen as corrupt and stalled efforts to reform it this May prompted major demonstrations in Baghdad. Protesters breached the heavily fortified “Green Zone,” vitally undermining the legitimacy of Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s government.

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