Bilal Hussein and the Looming Battle Over Iraqi Sovereignty

Bilal Hussein and the Looming Battle Over Iraqi Sovereignty

The U.S. military's decision last week to release Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer who has been held by U.S. military forces since April 2006 on accusations of links to terrorism, was not just a blow to the U.S. military's case against one prisoner. The announcement by the U.S. military, which followed the rulings of an Iraqi judicial panel granting Hussein amnesty, also raised a question war proponents may not want to answer. Namely, if the sovereign institutions and political processes that the U.S. troop surge was supposed to help foster actually take hold, will the United States respect them?

This question highlights the inherent tension between a military occupation that envisions complete freedom of action for a foreign military force in conducting offensive operations and a nation-building exercise that seeks to establish and fortify national and local institutions. The trajectory of the case of Bilal Hussein is a further reminder that the Iraqi government's sovereignty is still limited and that ultimate authority rests with the U.S. military.

However, even the limited sovereignty of the current Iraqi government will produce decisions that conflict with the stated aims and goals of the United States, and the frequency of such conflicts will rise as national institutions gain greater capacity and confidence.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.