Authoritarian Nostalgia Among Iraqi Youth: Roots and Repercussions


Disillusion with Democracy

A common refrain these days is that Iraq “needs a strong leader like Saddam.” During my time in the country, I heard these sentiments expressed by teenagers and twenty-somethings who were, at most, elementary school students during the Ba’athist era. These observations, though anecdotal, are corroborated by survey projects. Both the Arab Barometer and the Shi’a pilgrims survey—which was conducted by MIT’s Fotini Christia, Elizabeth Dekeyser and Dean Knox and encompassed a broader sample of Shi’a Iraqis –have similarly documented a feeling among young Iraqis that the country isn’t meant to be democratically governed. The Arab Barometer finds that “…most Iraqis are not perfectly convinced of the suitability of democracy for their country.” Relatedly, my observations and those in the Shi’a pilgrims survey indicate that even the Shi’a – a group Saddam had particularly targeted and who arguably are the “winners” of the post-2003 order – are expressing these sentiments of democratic dissatisfaction and authoritarian nostalgia.

Read the full article at War on the Rocks.


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