1 July 2013


Jane Kinninmont

Deputy Head and Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme

Gareth Stansfield and Omar Sirri


This report aims to shed light on the key actors, processes and narratives that are shaping Iraq's foreign policy behaviour and options, at a time when the country is seeking to emerge from international sanctions and resume a more normal role in international affairs.

  • Iraq's foreign relations are increasingly intertwined with the country's own divisions, and the increasing polarization of key Middle Eastern countries over Syria threatens to escalate Iraq's internal crisis.
  • Syria has become the most divisive foreign policy issue facing Iraq, with little consensus on how to respond to the conflict. To protect against the risk of spillover from Syria, Iraq's political groupings must develop at least a basic agreement on their strategic response to the conflict.
  • Western governments should caution their allies in the Gulf that the exploitation of sectarian discourses will have toxic effects that could last for at least a generation.
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