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Liberal Democracy Promotion in Iraq: A Model for the Middle East and North Africa?


  • Jeff Bridoux,

    1. Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK
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    • Jeff Bridoux, Postdoctoral Fellow “Political Economies of Democratisation”, European Research Council, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. This project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework programme (2007–2013)—project grant no. 202596. The views expressed here remain those of the author.

  • Malcolm Russell

    1. Independent Consultant
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  • The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers, Milja Kurki, Daniel McCarthy, Damien Van Puyvelde, and the Security Research Group at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, for their excellent comments and invaluable contribution to this article.


This article asks whether there are lessons that can be drawn from the democratization of Iraq for the possible democratization of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the wake of the 2010–2011 Arab uprisings. The paper draws on the democratization program in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 to demonstrate that focusing on the promotion of a liberal democratic model in Iraq translated into a lack of operational flexibility, which let democracy assistance unable to cope with socio-economic demands, local realities and reactions to democratization. Taking into account a variation in the intensity of interventionism between Iraq and MENA, the article argues that there is sufficient similarities between both cases to point Western democracy promoters in the direction of models of democracy that offer a more comprehensive response to the current political transition in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya than the traditional focus on the promotion of liberal democracy does.