Iraq’s minorities facing extinction in current crisis

January 6, 2009

Waterloo, Ontario - Although all Iraqis are caught in a cycle of violence and victimhood, the extremist danger and the rise of religious parties as the main political actors in the new Iraq has left minority groups acutely vulnerable to extinction, states a special report by Mokhtar Lamani, a senior visiting fellow with The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Mr. Lamani served as Special Representative of the Arab League in Iraq in 2006 and has recently undertaken in-depth field research in Iraqi-Kurdistan, Jordan and Egypt to examine the crisis that minorities in Iraq, and their members who have fled to other countries, are currently facing.

The report outlines some of the threats that specific groups are facing as well as the political and governance issues associated with all minorities in Iraq. It notes that the threats to minorities cannot be addressed in isolation from the broader issue of national reconciliation.

"The fragile Iraqi social tissue has been severely damaged since 2003 and the new political class in Iraq is not yet in a conciliatory mood," explains Mr. Lamani. "This atmosphere of total mistrust is further complicated by the continuing political fragmentation and the focus of the major parties on their own political interests rather than national reconciliation."

The negative atmosphere and the conflicting agendas of both internal and external actors make the resolution of these issues virtually impossible for the internal Iraqi actors alone. The report calls for a highly professional and respected international monitoring committee to evaluate the ongoing evolution of the Iraqi national crisis and make recommendations. The committee would have access to key decision makers at local, regional and international levels and would provide support to the reconciliation process.

The full report is available on the CIGI website at

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.