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Nobody’s Client: The Reawakening of Iraqi Sovereignty

Author: Lydia Khalil
March 2009
Lowy Institute for International Policy


Executive Summary

Iraq today is in a very different place from where it was just two years ago. Violence has decreased due to the implementation of a military surge strategy and the country is on the cusp of regaining full sovereignty after negotiating a Status of Armed Forces Agreement (SOFA) that stipulates an end to the U.S. military's presence. Once projected to be America's new client state in the region, Iraq is shaking off this affiliation and pursuing its own interests with less regard for its relationship with America. The dynamics of three key political issues will be discussed in this paper:

  • The passage of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The nature and negotiations behind the SOFA signaled an important shift in relations between the two countries.
  • The rise of particular political forces that have introduced a new political landscape in Iraq following the 2009 elections.
  • The ominous escalation of the Arab-Kurdish tensions and the potential for more violent conflict at a time when the United States is drawing back its military presence and is seeing its political leverage decline.

It will be these internal, domestic Iraqi drivers that will shape Iraq's stability more so than a reworked military or diplomatic strategy. Iraq will be nobody's client.


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