Two Gulf Wars and the Future: Iraq and the Aftermath of the Second Gulf War

Jacob Houston

The Second Iraq War, or the “ Second Gulf War”, has been overshadowed by the much longer and monotonous Afghanistan War lately, especially with the complete United States armed coalition withdrawal from the now Taliban controlled country.


Post war Iraq has been filled with frequent violence in terms of suicide bombings, water shortages, and a horrible electricity supply. In the midst of the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the Iraqi people elected US supported Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki as the leader of post war Iraq, who subsequently pushed legislation to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with a pro-Maliki government. Maliki also promised to pay Sunni Muslims who fought against the jihadis during the war.

However, Maliki’s promise to the Sunni Muslims did not bear fruit, and angered Sunnis particularly in Syria and Iraq founded the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The violent ISIS insurgency went on to spread across the Middle East, North Africa, and as far as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The rise of ISIS split Iraqi society in two, and Shia Muslims began forming militias to fight the pro-Sunni ISIS members across Iraq. In addition, the US backed coalition to defeat ISIS led to a watershed event that put troops on the ground in Syria, and began to advise Iraqi military officials on tactics to defeat ISIS. Iraq was plunged into a violent and brutal civil war due to the ISIS insurgency, and only just recently in 2017 under Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi secured victory.

As a result, after Abadi’s time as Prime Minister, the Iraqi government elected Kurdish politician Barham Salih as president of Iraq, and Sunni lawmaker Muhammad Halbusi as speaker. However, despite the two being initially supported by the Iraqi people, they were unable to push the reforms and legislation Iraq needed, and in October 2019, thousands of protestors took to the streets to demand change and reform. Unfortunately, the protestors were met with fierce and violent resistance from the Iraqi government, with over 20,000 protestors left injured and 450 people killed. The situation in Iraq in present day is turbulent but if there can be a peaceful solution to Iraq’s problems, and reforms can be ushered in, Iraq could build itself back up from the ashes.