Iraq and its Neighbors
Iraq is neighbored by countries such as Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan. It is endowed with vast oil, petroleum, and energy resources (Scott 11). For many years, Saddam Hussein led Iraq. Saddam’s era can be described as chaotic as the country and neighboring nations witnessed terrorist attacks and political violence. This aspect hindered the country from growing and developing politically, socially, and economically. Political conflicts within Iraq also played a key role in influencing neighboring countries. This is because terrorist attacks in Iraq would spread to neighboring countries leading to either loss or destruction of lives and properties. As a result, Iraq recorded declining rates in relation to economic and social growth. Currently, domestic and international political aspects and interests continue to influence how Shia, Kurds, and Sunnis groups seek political and economic security as well as expansion of resources (Geoffrey 7).
Although Iraq had large economic opportunities due to the vast available resources, the neighboring nations were restricted from expanding trade activities. This was due to political violence and lack of commercial laws fostering development and enhancing investment opportunities. During the Saddam era, bilateral, intra-regional and international trade levels had declined as neighboring nations’ decreased demand for trading activities. Neighboring nations were afraid associating with Iraq would lead to political, social, economic, and environmental degradation. They therefore had to either keep off Iraq or intervene in order to foster peace and stability. However, Saddam was a ruthless leader with vast resources he dedicated in stabilizing the country. Thus, most of the neighboring nations had to keep off Iraq. After the Saddam era, oil resources were discovered and infrastructures for exploration and production increased and expanded (Jon 10).
This led to economic and social boost as well as growth and development. For example, unemployment rates decreased which also led to decline of crime rates in the country. Neighboring nations also seized various opportunities such as rendering labor across the growing oil, energy, and petroleum markets in Iraq. This facilitated in reducing unemployment, boosting income levels, and the urbanization as well as industrialization of Iraq and neighboring nations. Thus, Iraq and neighboring nations mainly rely on the vast oil, energy, and petroleum resources. As result, Iraq and its neighbors have witnessed improvements across the economic status and aspects. This is in spite the stiff competition from OPEC and global energy as well as oil markets (Jon 10).
Iraq continues to witness political violence and instability. This has further led to the creation of anxiety among neighboring countries. The neighboring nations however often apply ethnic, religious, and cultural diversities to diffuse the violence and empower the nation to foster political peace and stability. As a result, Iraq’s culture has been greatly influenced by neighboring and visiting nations. The country culturally practices Islam. However, neighboring nations practicing other religious and cultural beliefs inclined towards Christianity have introduced them to Iraq (Christopher, Kenneth, Carol and Jeremy 20).
For example, United States government
has deployed American soldiers to enhance political stability and security in
Iraq for years. Consequently, the American soldiers have played a key role in
introducing Christianity in Iraq. However, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Arab States
continue to strive in order to ensure Islamic cultural beliefs, values, and practices
are preserved. Thus, neighboring nations have played key positive roles in
developing Iraq’s religious, cultural, economic, and political aspects (Yoel and
Christopher, Blanchard, Kenneth Katzman, Carol Migdalovitz, and Jeremy Sharp. Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy, Congressional Research Service, 2009. Print.
Geoffrey, Kemp. Iran and Iraq: The Shia Connection, Soft Power, and the Nuclear Factor, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, 2005. Print.
Jon, Alterman. Iraq its Neighbors: Iraq and the Gulf States, The Balance of Fear, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, 2007. Print.
Scott, Lasensky. Jordan and Iraq: Between Cooperation and Crisis, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, 2006. Print.
Yoel, Guzansky and Gallia Lindenstrauss. How Iraq’s Future may be Shaped by its Neighbors, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2013. Print.