15 May 2009

Good News, Bad News (Link of the Day)

Today's link comes from the Council on Foreign Relations (via Small Wars Journal) and has some good news and some potentially bad news from Iraq.

One of the things that's somewhat reassuring about Iraq's improved security situation is that the recent string of bombings directed against Shia shrines and pilgrims has not prompted massive Shia reprisals, unlike those which took place after the Samarra bombing of 2006 (much of which was actually undertaken by the Shia-dominated Iraq Army).

Nevertheless, Iraq still remains a fragile state, and is subject to the whims of Black Swan events. The Council on Foreign Relations puts forth four potential scenarios for a "Reversal in Iraq", the first three of which, unfortunately, could erupt at any time during the US drawdown or in the immediate aftermath, (with Arab/Kurd conflict being the most likely, followed by a shift towards a Shia-led dictatorship). It also provides a number of interesting measures to mitigate these risks. It's worth checking out. One quote in particular sums up the tenuous calm which we've recently experienced, and offers a pragmatic view of the future of Iraq:

Iraq today is in the early stages of a negotiated end to an intense ethnosectarian civil war. Transitions from civil warfare to peace and reconciliation are notoriously volatile and uncertain. Some succeed, but others collapse into renewed fighting. Of twenty-three such settlements between 1940 and 1992, ten—or almost half—failed within five years of the original cease-fire. And the Iraqi transition may be more fragile than most. Four interrelated scenarios could plausibly derail the prospects for peace in the short to medium term (next six to twelve months):

It's difficult to say what really will happen to this country after US forces leave. As a wise man once said, "Always in motion, the future is". What are your thoughts? Or, in the words of General Petraeus, tell me how this ends.

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