GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
Abba Omar
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Iraq: the trampling ground of contestation for hegemony of the Gulf, Arab and Islamic Worlds
Paper Proposal Text :
When looking at post-war Iraq, an old African proverb comes to mind: ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass beneath that gets trampled’. The region marked by the Euphrates and Mesopotamia has long been the centre of many ancient trade and civilizational routes. This made it, unfortunately, a lucrative territory for conflict.
We can see contemporary contestation for hegemony over Iraq in those very broad terms as well. The paper shall argue that the policies of various state actors need to be seen in the light of attempts to gain ascendancy over the Gulf region as well as the Islamic world.
At one level would be the manner in which the US would hope to exercise control over an increasingly, stridently independent Iraq as it proceeds with its withdrawal from that territory. At another level would be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s attempt to stave off Iran and Egypt from gaining greater influence over Iraq. With the former it shall attempt to counter the Islamic Republic’s attempts at influencing developments in vast parts of the Middle East, crudely portrayed as the Shi’ite Crescent. With the latter, it shall strive to ensure that the KSA remains the centre of gravity of the Arab world.
Instead of working within a largely geopolitical framework, the paper shall follow a political sociological approach whereby attention is paid to the forces within Iraqi society. The aim shall be to dissemble these forces and how they see Iraq relating to the following:
• The West, as especially represented by the departing US forces.
• GCC, especially in relation to KSA.
• The Arab world, especially in terms of relations with Egypt.
• The Islamic world, especially in terms of relations with Iran.
The paper is expected to conclude that Iraq government and people are already beginning to show increasing levels of commitment to their particular national interest, notwithstanding the overt standoffs in the political arena. The paper will conclude with a few long-term scenarios for Iraq.