There is little to celebrate as the twentieth anniversary of the “new Iraq” approaches. This essay seeks to shed light on the nature of the governing system that has emerged over the past two decades, and the fissures that have appeared in Iraqi politics at the time of writing. Iraq today is a vastly different place from when it last dominated Western headlines. Taking stock of the profound transformations of the intervening years is crucial to understanding where Iraq is today and where it might be headed.

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