The U.N. Security Council last week said that, while the security situation in Iraq had improved in general, security challenges exist in large part because of political intransigence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faced a vote of no-confidence this year following a series of political upheavals that left Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi seeking protection in Turkey. The Shiite prime minister accused the vice president, a Sunni, of overseeing a death squad.
The International Crisis Group, in a 30-page report published Monday, said the political crisis in Iraq stems from ongoing disputes with the Kurdish government and the December arrest warrant against Hashemi.
The ICG report describes Maliki as "a master" of navigating ambiguous constitutional issues in the country. Lawmakers have failed to keep Maliki's power in check by their inability "to marshal their parliamentary strength," the group said.
The report also states that Saddam Hussein's legacy looms over Iraq more than 9 years after his execution. The U.S. military's "awkward patchwork" of constitutional orders, meanwhile, did little to ease the political transformation.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]