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Iraq: Foreign Policy
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Policy


Because of the primary roles taken by the United States and Britain in deposing Saddam Hussein and establishing interim governments to replace his regime, Iraq’s relationships with those countries, particularly the United States, are expected to remain paramount for the foreseeable future. Government and nongovernmental aid from the United States will continue as a crucial support in reconstruction. In 2006 formulation of more precise foreign policy priorities awaits the firm establishment of the permanent government. In the short term, Iraq’s relations with Western and Far Eastern economic powers are determined by debt forgiveness and reconstruction assistance, which have come from many quarters. Relations with the United States were strained in mid-2006 when Iraq criticized Israeli attacks on Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Relations with Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors have been conditioned by the degree of support for the 2003 regime change that empowered Iraq’s Shia majority and by the need to curb the movement of insurgents from neighbors Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Jordan’s ambivalent role in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein cooled Iraq’s normally close relations with that country. In 2005 relations with Jordan worsened when an ostensibly Jordanian suicide bomber killed 125 Iraqis. Traditional territorial disputes with Kuwait remained quiet in the early 2000s, and Iraq retained important commercial agreements with both Jordan and Kuwait. Since 2003, relations with neighboring Syria and Saudi Arabia have been harmed by what is seen as those countries’ poor border security, which has allowed insurgents to move into and out of Iraq.

Iraq’s relations with Iran, always complex, have depended on the approach taken by Iran’s Shia government toward factional politics in Iraq. Since 2003 Iran’s aims have been to prevent the resurrection of a strong, threatening Iraq while at the same time avoiding a collapse of Iraq into a civil war that might spread eastward. The optimal outcome for Iran would be establishment of a Shia-dominated government with at least some Islamic principles. As of mid-2006, Iran had not overtly used its extensive Shia connections within Iraq to destabilize governments, although that strategy remained available, and Iran has supported a Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution, in Iraqi politics. An important regional issue is water sharing with Syria and Turkey, who have restricted the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates into Iraq by building upstream dams. In 2006 resolution of that issue awaited policy decisions by the new permanent government in Iraq. In 2006 Iraq approved construction of an oil pipeline connecting neighbors Iran and Syria across Iraq’s territory.

Data as of August 2006

Last Updated: August 2006

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iraq was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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