Close up of the Iraqi flagIraq is a country that has struggled under hard-fisted dictators and blood thirsty monarchs for hundreds of years. Attempts at establishing democracy in the past have been quickly derailed by corrupt politics. The presence of the U.S. in Iraq has brought some changes in government, and the country’s first real attempt at establishing a democracy. There have been some violent ups and downs along the way, and the country once again finds itself on the verge of civil war. The history of democracy in Iraq has been brief and tenuous to this point.

2003 - War is Declared

President Bush declared war on Iraq and began bombing in Baghdad, the nation’s capital. His purpose for invading Iraq was to protect the nations of the world by disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, protect the people there, and offer them freedom. The goal all along was to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, and establish a democracy in Iraq.

2005 - Democratic Elections are Held

No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, and the search was called off in 2005. There were other successes, however, with Saddam Hussein being removed from power, and Iraq holding it’s first democratic elections in over 50 years. Jalal Talabani was elected as president, with a great turnout of qualified voters. Experts were concerned however, since the elections were loaded with sectarian tension, and most voters seemed to make their decisions based on the religious or ethnic affiliation of the candidates. The concern was that the loss of a dictator actually removed any nationalist sentiments amongst Iraqis, leaving them to fall back on tribal alliances that are so volatile.

2007 - Sectarian Violence Causes a Backslide

Imbalances in the government and heated protests by the people had built up a level of sectarian violence that was threatening to overthrow democracy altogether. Under extreme opposition from the Democratic party in the U.S., President Bush issued 21,500 more troops to Iraq, hoping to regain some control in the war-torn country.

2009 - New Elections

Iraqi citizens showed their disdain for sectarian violence in the 2009 elections, by favoring secular officials on the ballot. The new Prime MInister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, promised a fair, unprejudiced government, and his cabinet was stocked with members of widely varying political parties.

2013 - Democracy Crumbling

What was promised to be a peaceful parliament has been rife with sectarian favoritism. al-Maliki has been linked to violence and oppression, orchestrated against the Sunnis by al-Maliki. This has caused Sunni politicians and others to boycott Parliament, and protesters to rise up in cities across the country. al-Maliki has responded to the protests with violence, and the whole situation has quickly deteriorated, leading to the Anbar Crisis that has completely crippled regions of the country. Re-elections are coming up in 2014, but al-Maliki is calling for a delay due to sectarian violence.