The elections this spring in Iraq were heralded there and abroad as a bold step towards a new, democratic future. However, the continued violence, coupled with political delays and infighting, have caused many observers to temper their assessment of the situation with a bit of caution. The current Iraqi government insists that it will meet the deadline for the drafting of the constitution, and that this draft will be ready to be put to a popular vote as scheduled.
Many questions regarding the future of Iraq remain to be answered. No one expects the deep divisions between Shiite, Kurd and Sunni to be easy to bridge, but the Iraqi and U.S. authorities have insisted that Iraq be governed by a federal system, and not be split into 3 independent entities, meaning that some form of peaceful coexistence will have to be found. With the Shiites and Kurds laying claim to the oil wealth in the South and North respectively, and the Sunnis fearful of loosing even more of their previous clout, the problems confronting the country are a complex mix of history, economics and racial and religious tension.
Add to this mix, the complex and, at times, volatile relationships between Iraq and its neighbors, and the problems only deepen. Turkey, home to it’s own large and restless Kurdish population, is keeping a keen eye on the Kurds of Iraq, who have made it clear that while they will play ball with Baghdad for now, their true ambition is for a state of their own. Syria is accused by both U.S. and Iraqi leaders of providing logistical support and a safe haven for the insurgency. Iran, which fought a long and brutal war with Iraq in the 1980’s, has embraced the emergent Shiite leadership. The largely Shiite country is believed to be working with their brethren in Iraq to influence the shape of the coalescing Iraqi government.
What form should the future Iraqi government take? With insurgents flocking to Iraq to fight the US occupation will the recently announced plan fo the withdrawal of our troops make Iraqi more or less dangerous? What responsibilities do Iraqs neighbors have in this process?
This Week’s Articles
- Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic
- Firm and Patient Realism Needed in Iraq
- Unintended Consequences: A Forum on Iraq and the Mideast
- We Can Leave Iraq by 2007
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.