The Role of Iraq’s Shiite Militias in the 2018 Elections

Shia militias banded together under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are key participants in Iraq’s upcoming national and provincial elections. This policy brief provides an analysis of these various PMF factions and their electoral platforms.

The main takeaways are:
• Multiple Shiite parties are competing to benefit from the PMF’s reputation in Iraq’s upcoming elections, hoping to translate field victories into political

• While Washington remains optimistic about Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi offering effective leadership, the premier appears to be stuck between Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, two main Shiite leaders whose popularity is on the rise.

• U.S. policy makers should actively support Iraq’s efforts to establish an integrated, nonsectarian national army and support Iraqi state institutions to lessen the chances of Iraq splitting apart.


False Hopes? Political Inclusion in Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan

The Syrian civil war drastically changed the future prospects of Kurds in both Syria and Iraq. This brief examines the challenges that prevent a politically inclusive culture in Syrian Kurdistan—popularly known as Rojava—and Iraqi Kurdistan.

This brief and research paper are part of a project on pluralism and inclusion in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. The project is generously supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Turkey’s Puzzle with a Divided GCC

The longevity of the Gulf crisis presents challenges to Turkey’s regional policy. First, Ankara’s strong support of Qatar makes Turkey a party to the conflict rather than a mediator, further diminishing its soft power capacity on the Arab street. Second, Turkey’s long-term goals, such as reaching a Free Trade Agreement with the GCC and cooperating in the Gulf defense sector, look unrealistic now, unless the parties involved can reach a durable resolution. Third, a Turkish-Iranian rapprochement is further strengthened as the Qatar crisis becomes more enduring. Turkey’s long-term interests in Iraq, however, strongly overlap with Saudi interests, thus demanding Ankara-Riyadh cooperation. READ MORE

Turkey’s Incursion into Idlib: Challenges Ahead

After arduous efforts to reach an agreement with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)—formerly known as al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda—the Turkish Armed Forces have deployed troops in northern Idlib across from People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in the Afrin area. Ankara appears to manage Russian demands without engaging in clashes with HTS militants, and at the same time, to pursue its major goal of surrounding the Kurdish enclave of Afrin. Turkey’s incursion into Idlib, however, may not promise success to Ankara in the long term. READ MORE