Does Iraq Have a Deep State?

Megahed al-Taey

Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed

Much has been said lately about the existence of a “Deep State” in Iraq that works behind the scenes and cripples the suggested solutions by hands of some political blocks and parties. What is the meaning of a deep state? Does Iraq really have a deep state? Does Iraq have a state in the first place? If we consume that Iraq has a deep state, which is the stronger? Can the non-state armed systems “militias and ISIS” be described as a deep state?

The deep state concept refers to “the group of strong powerful coalitions in the state’s institutions that oppose the change of any standing situation, are consisted of a net of correlated and linked interests, work for a common goal which is defending their interests and leverages out of the law frame and has tentacles in all fields whether political, military, economic, social or media.

Principally, Iraq has no state but there is an attempt to establish a state and there is a “central and weak” power. There is no “nation” in Iraq seeks for establishing a state, but there is subsidiary identities compete for the power. Besides, there is no stable political system in Iraq, rather, there is a system suffers all political crises and there are no well-founded institutions, rather, there are fragile institutions riddled with corruption. Moreover, there is no respectful constitution in Iraq but a constitution dealt the same way a “food menu” dealt as the parties and blocks choose what they want and benefit from and there is no law equally applied, instead, it is only enforced on the weak and the poor.

Thus, there is no deep state but a shallow state and weak government manipulated by parties, officials and militias. These forces don’t work such as the pressuring legal groups in the democratic systems like these in Europe and the US, they but work with legal and illegal ways in cooperation with known sides rather than hidden ones like in the original democracies. Most of knowledgeable people know those forces that perform illegal acts that reach to the assassinations against its enemies during the day exactly like what happened with some Iraqi scientists and experts and what happened in Samarra that was exploded and Mosul that was destructed and delivered to the ISIS after loosening the extremists from the prisons. All these fanatic non-state systems claim that they work under legitimate cover and according to religious fatwas including fighting the ISIS, Jihad or even threatening the US in Iraq.

Deep state for Iraq refers to the “leverage making” for some persons, parties and militias most of whom in relation with Iran and work for their own and Iran’s interest while both interests are inevitably against Iraq. This isn’t confined to the political Shiite forces but the Sunni and the Kurdish ones in addition to some minorities of different doctrines. All these factions seem contradicted but they are strangely unified under the narrow interests in different fields.

Most of Iraqi senior officials work when taking over the new post by making a “lobby” in the institution where he works and then controlling such institution to be solely affiliated to him in a way or another. Such lobby can be made of family sense, sectarian sense or partisan sense or made depending on common interests. This concept prevailed during the eight years tenure of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who had a big hit in making such lobby in the flabby state’s institutions as he kept in a relation with many partisan and sectarian figures in the state’s institutions and he probably was the first one who kicked the leverage making process in Iraq by abusing his position.

Practices of militias highlight everyday its superiority to the government, nation, law and constitution. These militias are in a pro forma relationship with the Iraqi security systems in order to have a lawful cover. It has partisan banners by which it participates in the elections and rigs it in order to have parliamentary seats. In addition, it establishes firms and economic offices and forcibly takes shares from the investments and investors. It works in the field of oil, drugs, arms and monuments trade and the human trafficking. It actually dominates some crossing borders with Iran to smuggle whatever deemed appropriate, helps Iran in exceeding the sanctions by currency and oil smuggling and protect the corrupts who harm the Iraqi economy. These non-state systems “militias” have become the joker card in the hands of Iran and like the tomatoes that should be in every political, military and economic recipe and no one can limit its activities and neither facing it nor limiting its ties with Iranian Failaq al-Quds and his head Qassem Soleimani.

In fact, there is a “deep non-state” of militias and parties in Iraq. This non-state was the output of Iraq construction after 2003 that became so fragile and full of gaps and the output of the interference of Iran who exerts much effort to maintain the status quo that primarily serve Iran and its allies. For Iran, Iraq is a battle field and a market where its problems are solved and goods and products can be sold, so it doesn’t accept getting Iraq strong because the Iranian strength lies in the Iraqi weakness and vise versa due to the geopolitical stature of Iraq to Iran. On the other hand, there is a reverse relationship between the state and its institution and the non-states systems. The weaker the state is, the stronger the non-state systems are and vice versa. Truthfully, no state can be strengthened without a real democracy, corruption combat, law enforcement, constitution respect, transparency, accountability and national unifying project. The moment all these factors achieved, the non-state systems will be weakened because such systems has no positive actions, rather, it acts negatively in order to obstacle any reform ambitions, to abort any attempts can harm their interests and to veto any anti-Iran national candidate.

To conclude, this deep state found in Turkey first and then in the US, Egypt and Pakistan was due to various considerations. These states has long aged institutions where the deep state could nested with its nets inside the state’s jobs and became really effective in a great way needs long years of working to be controlled. In Iraq, all the state’s institutions were demolished after 2003 and then reconstructed on sectarian subversive bases. Hence, neither a state nor institutions have been established from the beginning, so no deep state could be established. In Iraq, there are non-state deep systems.


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