Author Topic: Iraq: what next for a corrupt and divided country?  (Read 1772 times)

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Iraq: what next for a corrupt and divided country?
« on: January 16, 2012, 20:38:30 PM »
Iraq: what next for a corrupt and divided country?

The democratic nation state that was supposed to rise from the ruins of tyranny appears to be disintegrating

Post-Saddam Iraq has rarely been more brittle. The democratic nation state that was supposed to rise from the ruins of tyranny is steadily disintegrating. Less than one month after the US withdrawal, Iraq is showing no sign of uniting behind a Washington-backed central government. More alarmingly, Baghdad doesn't seem to care much.

The move by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in mid-December against the country's Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, was always going to be provocative. Maliki, who in a recent interview said his primary identity was Shia, insists Hashemi was directing hit squads. He said he had known about the vice-president's "terror activities" for years, but had waited for the right time to go after him. The moment he chose could not have been more potent – the US army had hardly shut the gate into Kuwait behind them. The remaining strongman in town was marking his patch. The rest of Iraq would have to live with it.

Maliki would surely have expected a backlash. He has never been popular with the country's disenfranchised Sunnis and has had a workable, though strained, relationship with the increasingly disengaged Kurds. Yet he doesn't seem to have factored in the strength of the resentment – and its capacity to seriously undermine the power base he seems intent on building for himself.

Iraq now finds itself at a juncture that in many ways is more dangerous and instructive than the darkest days of 2006, when all remnants of state control crumbled as sectarian war took hold. Back then there was no expectation the state could lead Iraq to a better place. Six years on, and with violence much lower, Iraqis have even less faith in the state, despite it being much better placed – at face value – to provide for its citizens.

Iraq appears to have three paths from here. The first is partition: separate states for Shias, Sunnis and Kurds who would govern themselves and consign Iraq to a historical dustbin. This option would benefit the Kurds, who have been busy building a state in all but name for the past nine years, and who stand to reap an enormous bounty from the oil reserves under their feet. It may also be attractive to the Sunnis, who don't have oil in their heartland and fear they don't have a hope under a Shia majority government anyway.

The second option is a form of federalism, where regions have more autonomy in their own affairs and less of an allegiance to Baghdad. The Sunni provinces of Anbar and Diyyala have made steps in this direction, but Maliki has vowed to prevent any such move taking hold.

And then there's the fallback, "do nothing" option (one that Iraq seems to adopt almost by default these days): this means muddling along from one crisis to the next, with institutions remaining largely useless and citizens knowing that the state will rarely be behind them. Underlying this option – the most likely of the three – is a gradual slide into chaos. There are, it seems, too many trigger points inside Iraq and around the region these days to avoid it.

Offline officegunner

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Re: Iraq: what next for a corrupt and divided country?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 20:44:44 PM »
thanks. iraqs such a mess all the time don't u think?