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Iraqi Foreign Policy: Actors and Processes

Workshop Summary
Chatham House, November 2012

This is a summary of discussions held in Washington, DC on 26 - 27 November 2012 during a Chatham House organized workshop on Iraq's foreign policy. 

Main findings from the workshop include:

  • Hampered by years of war, sectarianism, and corruption, Iraq has yet to develop a coherent foreign policy within the central state institutions. The high degree of factionalization in Iraq’s government has led to several competing foreign policy agendas. 
  • The varying foreign policy agendas are aligned with the different parties that dominate the Iraqi political landscape. Those parties have in turn sought support from different regional powers to boost their own domestic political fortunes.
  • Ethnic and sectarian identities remain in competition with a more national Iraqi identity, in turn affecting Iraqi foreign relations.
  • Traditional foreign policy analysis frameworks that focus on a unitary state actor are less applicable to the case of Iraq today.
  • Increased oil production and revenues will be a significant factor in the development of Iraq’s foreign relations in the next decade – particularly with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
  • A more national foreign policy could be triggered by Iraqi decisions that are more reactive to political developments in the Middle East, rather than proactive positions, in an attempt to bolster the country’s regional influence. 
The workshop was a part of the project Iraq on the Regional and International Stage.
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