Located at the heart of the Middle East, connecting the Levant to the Persian Gulf, Iraq has always been at the centre of regional dynamics. Yet, the country is today reduced to a quasi-failed state fundamentally damaged in its political, social and economic fabric, with long-term consequences that trace a fil rouge from the 2003 US-led invasion to the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the country’s current structural fragility. While historically, geographically and politically placed at the centre of the region, Iraq has never been at the core of European policy in the Middle East. From Brussels, Iraq has mostly been considered as falling under the US area of responsibilities, independently from the close economic ties between certain European states and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq prior to the international sanctions regime, or the participation of five European countries in the US-led invasion and occupation of the country. Indeed, a proper European Strategy for Iraq only emerged in 2018, in the aftermath of IS’s territorial defeat.
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