The US led invasion of 2003 sparked a violent insurgency that has deepened ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions. Although there has been a reduction in violence since 2007, the security conditions remain difficult.
The continuing violence has hampered reconstruction efforts and despite sitting on some of the world’s largest oil reserves, Iraq is only the world’s 11th largest producer of oil. Corruption and oil smuggling, as well as long-term economic problems, have also hindered the country’s development and millions lack clean drinking water and are reliant on food aid. Despite these, and numerous other challenges, there is hope for Iraq’s burgeoning civil society, with many encouraged by the country’s recent NGO law.
Whilst the 2010 elections were relatively peaceful no party won enough votes for an overall majority in parliament. It took eight months of negotiations to form a power-sharing government.