Iraqi Shia militiamen hold portraits of Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (C), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) and Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during a parade in Baghdad, last year. (Reuters)

By Tallha Abdulrazaq

March 22, 2018

The United States promised 15 years ago that it would deliver democracy to Iraq but Iraqis are still reeling from the effects of the 2003 invasion.

Rather than democracy, Iraq is edging towards an Iranian-style theocracy. Rather than freedom, Iraqis are beset by violence and terror. Rather than human rights, Iraqis are suffering from a decade-and-a-half of abuses at the hands of government forces, their allied Shia jihadist militias and the Sunni jihadist Islamic State (ISIS) group.

After 15 years, we can be confident that Iraq has not transitioned from dictatorship to democracy but has devolved from a deeply flawed sovereign country into a failed state in which terrorism, extremism and radicalisation hold sway.

Plainly put, Iraq does not have a functioning democracy. The reason is obvious: When the United States decided on regime change in Iraq under the Clinton administration, it introduced the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. This legislation determined that it would be US policy to seek “regime change” in Iraq and to support a transition to democracy.

However, this appears to have been a smokescreen to justify interventionism, as Washington and the Iraq Liberation Act officially supported groups and organisations such as the pro-Iran and Khomeinist Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Obviously, Shia Islamist parties who follow the theocratic, fundamentalist ideology of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have very little to do with democracy. After all, their ideology calls for the establishment of a religious theocracy in which an unelected “guardian jurist” has ultimate say over the foreign and domestic policy of the country.

This means that the supreme leader of Iran, a position occupied by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, can overrule the government’s elected officials. It does not matter what the people want. A mullah, apparently, knows far better and can impose his will on the people while claiming his decisions are divinely ordained.


Iraq is run by a coterie of Shia Islamists in partnership with Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Sunni Islamists such as the Iraqi Islamic Party. These governments have repeatedly attempted to legalise paedophilia against girls, by tabling motions to change the Personal Status Law and introducing laws that would allow men to marry 9-year-old girls. The most recent draft law of this sort was introduced last November.

Attempts to undermine the rights of women and children will not cease as long as the mullahs impose this disgusting ideology on the people of Iraq, damning generations of girls to a lifetime of horrific abuse.

The Iraqi government is also responsible for human rights abuses, including the persecution of the country’s Sunni Arabs and any political dissidents who oppose the gradual Iranification of Iraq. This includes Arab Shia clerics such as Ayatollah Mahmoud al-Sarkhi, whose headquarters in Karbala was strafed by helicopter gunships and his followers abducted, tortured and arrested by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in 2014.

Why was this Shia cleric attacked? Simply because Sarkhi vocally opposed the pro-Iran Maliki’s sectarian policies and his persecution of Sunnis.

With the degradation of human rights, the persecution of minorities and political dissidents and the non-existence of democracy, is it any wonder that Iraq has become fertile ground for extremist ideological groups like ISIS or the wide variety of Shia jihadists who are running amok? After all, in the absence of law, order and justice, radicalisation festers and grows.

People who feel pressed into a corner react, sometimes violently, when they feel they have no other choice. Without a doubt, Iraq is a failed state and it will take a miracle to pull it back from the precipice.

The Arab Weekly

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.