Better News In Iraq
Kevin Drum comments on yesterday’s Sadr City operation:
And it’s worth saying that the March operation in Basra looks better now than it did at the time too. The conduct of the Iraqi troops was spotty and the Iranian influence in bringing the fighting to an end was obviously problematic, but in the end government forces did take control of most of the city and have restored relative peace.
Add to that today’s promising start to the Sadr City operation, the continued cooperation of the Sunni tribes, and the sustained reduction in overall violence, and Iraq’s prospects look better than they have for a while. It’s still true, among other things, that the status of Kirkuk hasn’t been resolved; that arming the Sunnis poses long-term stability problems; that Sadr’s intentions are murky and he may just be biding his time; that the Iranians seem to be calling a lot of the shots; and that Nouri al-Maliki still doesn’t really have a functioning government. Only an ostrich would pretend that prosperity is just around a bend in the Tigris. Still, there’s been some genuine progress over the past few months, enough to make me feel a bit of hope for Iraq’s future for the first time in years.
I have to concur with Kevin that things are looking better in Iraq. They’re a long, long way from good, but they’re better–so far, anyway. I’m going to be wary of declaring any kind of sustained improvement until after this fall’s elections, though. In additional to Kevin’s concerns above, there’s also these: If Maliki’s coalition falls, which remains a possibility, will he step down quietly? Will the elections even be fair? And what about the Sunnis, who are developing their own parallel system along mafia lines? Will the Kurds ever integrate into the Iraqi government?
The fundamental tensions threatening Iraq are still there, and it’s way too early to tell if they will be resolved.