The Impact of Post-Saddam Iraq on the Cause of Democratization in the Arab World

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This article examines the effect of the Iraqi political order built following the Anglo- American invasion of Iraq in 2003, on the cause of Arab democratization. One of the rationales for the US invasion of Iraq was that it would lead to a democratic Iraq that would serve as a model of democracy to be emulated within the Arab world. The George W. Bush administration described its intervention in Iraq as a democratizing mission that would transform Iraq into a pro-Western state and create a democratic example for the rest of the Arab world. With the outbreak of the Arab popular uprisings from late 2010 onward, a number of neoconservative pundits have even praised such uprisings as an outcome of the Bush administration’s freedom agenda in the Middle East, including his democratizing mission in Iraq. This article argues that post-Saddam Iraq did not emerge as an exemplary political order that could be adopted in the Arab world. Rather, Iraq represented a negative model for emulation, resulting in major setbacks for the cause of democracy in the region.