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May. 5 2010 - 2:41 am | 64 views | 1 recommendation | 0 comments

Iraq: Setting the stage for the next, smaller, civil war

The alliance between Iraq’s two key political coalitions that was announced yesterday shores up the power of the Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad for the next four years. My guess–a wild crystal ball prediction, to be sure–is that we’re seeing what the government in Iraq will look like for not only the next four years, but for at least the next decade.

I doubt, too, if there will be much incentive for the Shiite government to start sharing more power with their Sunni rivals once the Americans leave. In fact, I expect the opposite–Maliki(or whoever else takes over) will likely continue to eliminate any political opposition, by both political(banning alleged Baathists etc) and martial(arresting, exiling, killing) means.

As the NYT points out:

That could intensify sentiment among Sunnis that despite voting in force, they remain disenfranchised in Iraq’s new democracy. “The fear is this alliance will have a sectarian color,” Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni allied with Mr. Allawi, said in a statement read by an aide after the announcement. “That is how Iraqis and the world will see it, whether we like it or not. This development will be a tragic step backward.”

The question is: how bad will the violence get? Will we get another “full blown” civil war, or will we just see a continuation of the low/high level conflict we’ve been seeing? I think the latter–the insurgency is weak, but they’re still capable of deadly attacks for many years to come. Ie, regular and significant acts of violence, or the equivalent of an Okalohoma city type bombing every few months.

Interestingly enough, if Maliki loses his job, one of the names being thrown around as the next prime minister is Mohammed Jaffar Sadr, radical Islamic cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s cousin. I don’t know enough about Mohammed Sadr at the moment to say anything too intelligent. But it will be interesting to see how the Iraq War ‘victory’ crowd in Washington will spin the fact that the cousin of a radical Islamic cleric, who fought America tooth and nail during the seven years of occupation, represents a step in the right direction for U.S. ideals, democracy, and our strategic interest in the region.


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    About Me

    I'm the author of "I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story" and a regular contributor to GQ. Previously, I was the Baghdad correspondent for Newsweek magazine. My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, the L.A. Times, and other publications of repute. This blog will focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other newsy foreign-ish things.

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