Iraq’s erratic democratization has achieved significant gains in “transferring some power to a previously disenfranchised population,” says Abbas Kadhim, a senior fellow at the Boston University Institute for Iraq Studies:
Since Iraqis reclaimed sovereignty in 2004 they have managed to write and ratify a constitution, hold regular provincial and general elections, and begin to establish a tradition of peaceful transfer of political power and parliamentary life. This is a very significant reversal of the authoritarian rule in Iraq between 1958 and 2003, when governments were only replaced by violence and coups.
“Although it is fashionable to condemn everything that happened in Iraq post-2003, there are signs of hope for a progress toward a successful democratization,” Kadhim writes for Foreign Policy:
The withdrawal of U.S. forces de-legitimized political violence; the judiciary is demonstrating some independence; and the armed forces are subject to civilian control.
But “the most disturbing negative aspects” of the post-2003 period are the three forms of corruption plaguing the country: political, administrative, and financial, says Kadhim, the author of Reclaiming Iraq:
Each form contributes in its own way, and in collaboration with the others, to the failure of the country in its pursuit of progress and development. The ultimate result of this failure to curb corruption can be seen in the rising apathy of Iraqis and their lack of confidence in their government
More dangerous still is the contribution of corruption to the country’s instability and the continued political violence. In addition to causing the lack of services, lack of economic progress, and poor governance, it is clear from the empirical evidence that all three forms of corruption have contributed greatly to the deterioration of security in post-2003 Iraq. Corrupt politicians at all governmental levels have sponsored terrorism, collaborated with insurgents, or looked the other way in exchange for political gains to themselves or their respective political parties.