Iraq remains fragmented along sectarian, religious, ethnic, and generational lines and is caught in open conflict between political elites and a large protest movement. Clientelism, mutual distrust and contempt remain widespread more than a decade after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Finally, U.S.-Iranian rivalry and the struggle for influence are also driving the politicization of Shiites and Sunnis and thus fragmentation. These conflicts repeatedly foster escalations of violence.
Against this backdrop, the ASPR launched a process in September 2020 to make Iraq more peaceful for all its inhabitants. Specifically, through a series of dialogue meetings between representatives from across the Iraqi political spectrum aims to build mutual trust and formulate a common Iraqi vision. This project is supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the CPDC.
The atrocities during the reign of terror of the so-called “Islamic State” in the northern Iraqi province of Ninewa led to a deep loss of trust between the Arab-Sunni majority population and religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis. Years after the territorial recapture of IS controlled areas, however, this loss of trust prevents them from living together again. Members of the minorities emigrate to the West or stay in refugee camps.
Against this backdrop, the project launched by the ASPR, contributes to enabling coexistence of members of religious minorities and the majority population in Northern Iraq.
Specifically, the project creates an opportunity for representatives of the majority and minority populations to rebuild trust and work together on practical challenges of living together through an inclusive process. In doing so, the ASPR, together with its partner, the Iraqi Center for Conflict Management, aims at increasing the sustainability of societal cohesion and encourage internally displaced members of religious minorities to return to their places of original residence. This project is supported by the Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs.