The Iraq War 20 years on: towards a new regional architecture

13 February 2023

International Affairs

Louise Fawcett, The Iraq War 20 years on: towards a new regional architecture, International Affairs, 2023;, iiad002,

View Journal Article / Working Paper

The consequences of the Iraq War of 2003 continue to reverberate throughout the Middle East and wider world in multiple, if still underacknowledged, ways. Though subsequent regional developments have taken centre stage—notably those surrounding the Arab Uprisings and the subsequent civil wars and interventions in Libya, Syria and Yemen—the effects of the Iraq War remain powerfully present. A watershed event, it has generated major and irreversible changes at the international and regional level. It has empowered certain states and actors, and weakened others— notably Iraq itself—but its impact on both the regional and wider global security landscape cannot be underestimated. Arguing that the events surrounding the Iraq War and its outcome constituted a ‘critical juncture’, or major inflexion point in regional order, this article examines three interdependent features of the changing regional architecture. The first relates to the region's international alignments; the second to its balance of power; and the third to the changing institutional environment, which challenges and redefines the very boundaries of the Middle East.