US - Islamic Dialogue in Qatar
One of his posts today concerns the events of last night's plenary on Iraq. It makes for very interesting reading on both issues related to form and substance.
With respect to form, the panel of speakers included 3 Americans and 1 Shia Iraqi. An obvious absence, as he notes, is a lack of any Iraqi Sunni or any other Arab, for that matter. The visual speaks volumes for those looking to understand the balance of power in Iraq, i.e. the US and the Shia Iraqis backed by Iran.
On substance, (also included for the most part under his post) the reality is that life for the average Iraqi is today much worse than it was under Saddam. Whether the US Administration wants to own up to this fact, or not, is not only a(n irrelevant) matter for their conscience, more importantly, it concerns the future of American foreign policy, leadership and Middle East stability.
The dream of a democratic Iraq is no longer the measure of success there; limiting death, destruction, and regional fallout is.
So, is this merely a situation of "it needs to get worse before it can get better" or is this a situation which has spiraled down into total chaos that can either get worse if left to local actors, or perhaps get better with major external involvement (see previous post)?
Unfortunately, I believe that even these may be academic questions at this point. Political realities in the US are such that the US has no option but to claim success by redefining its parameters. The American voter has lost patience; s/he has had enough loss of blood and treasure. Despite the tin ears of the Administration, the voter has spoken and will continue to do so unless events change on the ground by either a redeployment of the troops or the identification of a new "cause" for action (think Iran).
At the present trajectory, Iraq is likely to result in a failed state of 3 regions: northern Kurdistan, southern and eastern Shia state aligned with Iran to include Baghdad, and western Iraq (Anbar). Sunni Iraqis will suffer in the mix and most will become the new Middle East Diaspora causing strain on both Jordan and Syria.
The US will redefine success as a functioning north and south/east with US forces fighting "Al Qaeda" in Anbar. Thus, the US will be able to have its cake and eat it too. A partially functioning Iraq and a continued "war on terror" in Anbar. Of course, the fact that the only real winner from the US invasion of Iraq is Iran will be ignored.
A possible useful outcome is that fracture lines between Syria and Iran may emerge as a result of the fact that Iran appears to have gained from all this while Syria will be faced with a humanitarian and political crisis.
What is interesting from a larger regional perspective, however, is does this imply that the US will have to lie in the bed of its making with the Iranians? And, if so, with all the mixed signaling coming out of DC with regards to Iran, does that mean that the debate is brewing here too, or is this a situation of deliberate disinformation to obfuscate US military designs on Iran?