About CFRI

Founded in may 2021, the French Research Center on Iraq is a non-profit association situated in the 13 ème arrondissement in Paris. This independent Think Tank has as its primary mission to produce impartial knowledge and make Iraqi geopolitics accessible to a larger audience. As the first French centre specialised on Iraq, the CFRI wishes to create a unique approach through various actions founded on the development of databases, interactive maps, the creation of partnerships with NGOs, the organisation of conferences, seminars and political debates, interviews of Iraqi actors and experts, training Iraqi youth wishing to pursue a career in sociology, promoting young research talent in France and Iraq, and, of course, writing policy analysis and research papers.

This think tank created in 2021, a 100 years after the creation of an Iraqi state, looks to produce objective knowledge in order to better understand Iraq and facilitate decision-making by actors and decision-makers interested in the Middle East (public and private institutions, media and journalists, researchers and PhD students, NGOs, etc.).

Our Main Themes

First French Think Tank on Iraq, the organisation concentrates its research around certain key themes:

1. The creation of an Iraqi state

Sunni, Shia and Kurdish sectarianism:

Originally constituted from the Ottoman provinces of Basra (Shia), Mosul (Kurds) and Baghdad (Sunni), the Iraqi state is made up of these three main components. The Al- Muhasasa informal system that focuses on sharing the power reinforces these political and confessional cleavages, thus hampering the state and its democratic process. In a country where Sunni, Shia and Kurdish sectarianism is the norm and Iraqi nationalism the exception, the CFRI looks at what can bring the Iraqi people together as a nation and what are the original dividing factors.

Strong state/Weak state:

Iraq is part of the 33 weakest states in the world and is reliant on the international aid system. This is also responsible for the country's lost of sovereignty. The main fragility of Iraq also resides in the dysfonctionnement of its institutions and deficient infrastructures.


Systematised within the state apparatus, corruption is responsible for the disappearance of 400 billion dollars between 2003 and 2021 according to official numbers. Iraq ranks 160th on 180 when it comes to the corruption perception 2020 index according to International transparency. Since 2003, Iraq is regularly part of the 20 most corrupt countries in the world.

2. Foreign influences

Iraq's US-Iranian led co-governance

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Iran and the United States, rivals on the geopolitical arena, find themselves jointly governing Iraq. Nonetheless, this partnership is threatened by the differences between both countries, worsened since the assassination by US drone strike of the Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, on January 3rd 2020 in Baghdad.Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Iran and the United States, rivals on the geopolitical arena, find themselves jointly governing Iraq. Nonetheless, this partnership is threatened by the differences between both countries, worsened since the assassination by US drone strike of the Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, on January 3rd 2020 in Baghdad.

The influence of Gulf state countries

Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates that find themselves in an open confrontation with Iran, desire to influence internal Iraqi politics, stirring conflict between the Sunni and Shia within a country daily fragmented by its sectarianism.

The Turkish offensive in Iraqi Kurdistan

The repeated incursions by the Turkish army, perpetually at war with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as well as the regional Kurdish government's (KRG) relations with its Iranian and Turkish neighbours has profoundly modified the power play between Ankara, Erbil and Baghdad.

3. The country's internal conflicts


If ISIS has lost its territorial entity since 2017, the Islamist terrorist organisation continues to represent a threat for the civilians as well as the Kurdish peshmerga forces, the Iraqi national forces and the Shia militias often targeted. The reemergence of ISIS constitutes a threat for the Iraqi territory as well as on the international stage. The departure of American troops and the internal divisions within Iraqi society promote the return of terrorist attacks and attacks from ISIS. Towards the end of November 2021, more than 1000 attacks had been witnessed since the 1st of January with two thirds between the provinces of Kirkuk, Salah ad Din and Diyālá governorates, in this new 'triangle of death' where is situated the Hamrin mountain range, natural refuge for members of the Islamic Organisation.


Since ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani's call against the Islamic Organisation in 2014, the grip of the Shia popular mobilisation forces (Hachd al-Chaabi) has ceased to grow to the point of turning the Iraqi state into a militia state. The Popular mobilisation forces are equipped of a heavy arsenal of weapons, strong of 150 000 men and integrated within the heart of the State. It constitutes the main scenario leading out to a civil war in Iraq.

The Kurdish Question

The 1992 seized independence by the Regional Kurdish government was consolidated in 2005 after the American occupation. The independence question remains crucial for the Kurds of Iraq, from the construction of the Iraqi State at the start of the 1920s to the independence referendum in 2017, it constitutes one of the main pathologies preventing the Iraqi state from creating one nation. The Kurdish question is also linked to the PKK's presence in the north of Iraq. This is a dividing factor within the Kurdish community and has led to extending the Turco-Kurdish conflict to Iraqi territory.

Civil War

In Iraq, all the objective conditions be it military, social, security-based, economic or geopolitical, are gathered to turn the country into a destructive civil war. This is particularly true amongst the Shia where at least 60 heavily armed organised and ideologically divided are ready to fight.

4. Social movements

Protest movement

The contestation movement that starts to appear from the 1st of October 2019 (Tishreen revolution) is the result of a multitude of factors and frustrations linked to unemployment, as well as a dysfunctional economic system, endemic corruption, a faulty state and the impossibility for this same state to create a shareable identity referential across Iraq. This movement that goes beyond traditional political cleavages, criticises Iran's growing influence and demands stronger youth- related policies.

Women's movement

With a feminist tradition since the 1920s due to the historic presence of the radical left, Iraq is shaped by movements of powerful women, even if this movement has been relatively weakened by the tragedies of the Iraqi history. Since 2003 and the American occupation, this movement has once more gained traction with more than 200 organisations working in the field of women's rights.

Iraqi Youth

If 68% of the 40 million Iraqis are younger than 30 in 2021, thus placing Iraq amongst the countries with the youngest population, all signs point to the fact the Iraqi state (from 2003 to nowadays) has never and continues not to dispose of policies for its youth. From the establishment of priority education zones, delinquency prevention policies, the social and professional inclusion of young people, none of these policies has been a prerequisite or the priority of successive governments.

5. And also…

You will also find other research themes that will be further developed by our researchers, such as the evolution of Iraqi minority's place in the country's society (Yazidi, Christians, Mandaeans, etc.), the impact of climate change, the fossil energy dependence, the transition towards renewable energies, recurring droughts, etc.