This study follows the progress of the Iraqi army through the course of the modern Iraqi state. It illustrates how military interference in politics led to weaken the state, from an arm of politics to an architect of politics, and a dominant player. The army would eventually fall victim to politics itself and, with its gradual collapse, initiate the downfall of the state image. This allowed for the emergence of pre-state structures to perform the function of protecting and regulating the public sphere. In the fraught historical context of Iraq, these structures took on a sectarian and ethnic character. The anxiety dominating the memory of Iraqi society led these emerging structures to develop into a phase where their rules differed substantially from the organizing principles that had controlled Iraqi groups for many years.