Dilemmas of security in Iraq

Oren Barak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This article suggests that much of the violence that has ravaged Iraq since the country's occupation by the US-led coalition in 2003 can be explained by focusing on the interplay between domestic and external factors that pushed Iraq's major communities (Shi'is, Sunnis, and Kurds) into conflict. The domestic factors include an intercommunal 'security dilemma' that was engendered by the US-led invasion; the role of belligerent 'ethnic entrepreneurs' within these communities; and the long-term animosities, apprehensions, and fears among their members. External factors include the disbandment of Iraq's ruling elite, regime, and security sector by the USA, along with the role of the Arab and Muslim volunteers who came to fight Iraq's foreign occupation. The article concludes by discussing the possible ramifications of the conflict in Iraq for domestic, regional, and international security, and mentions several steps that can help ameliorate it.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)455-475
Number of pages21
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Civil war
  • Ethnic conflict
  • Power-sharing
  • Security sector reform
  • US foreign policy


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