Al-Ali, whose father was a former Iraqi diplomat who fled into exile, returned to Iraq as a legal adviser to the United Nations during the U.S. occupation. All his attempts to reform the post-Saddam state failed; this book is his lament. He inveighs against the returned Iraqi exiles who now wield power in Iraq, such as Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, criticizing them, along with Paul Bremer, who served as the head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003–4, for needlessly leading Iraq into sectarianism and regionalism. Much of al-Ali’s analysis is useful but not original. Al-Ali is at his best on constitutional issues. He calls for a new Iraqi constitution that would provide for better civilian control of the military, more effective regulation of political parties, firmer anticorruption measures, reform of the oil and gas sector, and a clearer relationship between the central state and Iraq’s provinces. He predicts that the parliamentary elections of 2014 are unlikely to produce much change but hopes that Iraq might finally switch course after the provincial and parliamentary elections of 2017–18.
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