Iraq: be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for goes the saying. You might just get your wish. And so it is with Iraq.

America wished and fought for an Iraq without a Bathist, Saddam regime, a secular democracy. It saw free elections as the key to these objectives. Americans contending that the desire for free elections and democracy is the natural state of mankind was certain the Iraqis, once free from the shackles of Saddam’s repressive regime would instinctively embrace these principles.

Now two years after the invasion, over 100.000 Iraqis have died, most of whom are innocent civilians and many of those killed by American armed forces in the course of the war as collateral casualties while combatting the insurgents. The embryonic insurgency has grown from a few thousand to 20.000, perhaps more and 80% are native Iraqis, not so-called foreign fighters or Al-Qaeda imports. There is no security, there are food shortages, patchy electricity services and the Iraqis in central Iraq are becoming nostalgic for Saddam.

In Shiite country in the South, the Shia have won a significant win in the recent elections, so one would expect them to be both grateful for and welcoming of the America presence

Not so. Neither the Sunni nor the Shia want the Americans to remain in their respective dominions. While negotiations are underway to cobbel together a working coalition with the Kurds, the Sunnis have been marginalised and will be allocated a demeaning role in a new government. That mix can only exacerbate an already bad situation.

The long term prospects for such an unlikely coalition amongst traditional enemies are dim indeed. It is only a question of time before the Kurds manifest their wish to form an autonomous state. The Sunnis, bitter and isolated have no where to go except into the hands of the extremists. The so-called Sunni Triangle could become the next refuge for Al-Qaeda and other such groups dedicated to destabilising all its secular neighbours – Sauidi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf States.

The Shia will move into the Iranian orbit and thus catpult Iran from a minor role in the region to a position of a major player and oil supplier. America, while threatening Iran, should take into account the Shia majority next door in Iraq. They will not stand by idely while their brothers and mentors in Iran are attacked.

Should, as is likely, the coalition with the Kurds collapse, the Shia have only two options: 1) establish an independent Islamic Republic or 2) become a satrapy of Iran. None of these scenarios bode well for continuing the fiction of a state called “Iraq”.

The United States in wishing for a Saddamless Hussein, asserting his regime’s threat to the United States and the world, have instead created a hydra-headed monster that dwarfs any imagined threat from Saddam’s Iraq.


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