Al-Qaeda has suffered significant strategic losses in Iraq, but will the political impasse there create opportunities for the terrorist organization?
Iraqi Kurds are headed for challenges, with a relatively smaller bloc in the new parliament and greater difficulty maintaining unity on key issues.
Impunity and lack of accountability fuel corruption in Iraq. The parliament to be elected March 7 will need to address these issues to gain the public trust.
In the lead up to March 7, machinations that include Iraqi and non-Iraqi players are beginning regarding government formation.
Intra-Kurdish politics will be particularly intense in the March 7 Iraqi parliamentary elections. The results will show whether the longstanding KDP-PUK balance is still relevant or Gorran is here to stay as a political force.
The March 7 Iraqi elections will show how far Sunnis have progressed in their evolution from armed resistance to political participation, and whether they can unify to improve their strategic standing vis-a-vis the Shi'i community.
March 7 parliamentary elections will be an important test for the new Iraq that is emerging; meanwhile the U.S. administration has not yet considered what role Iraq will play in the region.
The new Iraqi electoral law reveals much about ongoing debates and power struggles in the country, particularly between Arabs and Kurds.
The July 2009 provincial elections changed not only political life in Iraqi Kurdistan, but also the outlook for national elections in January 2010.
Awakening movement members are being integrated in the country's politics as well as its security forces.
Moqtada al-Sadr's attempts to keep attention on the United States and to associate his political rivals with it reveal his concerns about remaining relevant in Iraqi politics.
Provincial elections in January 2009 will provide insights into the health of Iraq's political system and the shifting balance of power among political parties and factions.
President-elect Obama’s administration must not give any inkling that Iraq is becoming less important to Washington if it wants to shore up real but fragile gains in Iraqi stability.
Iraq has reached a political plateau. The U.S. troop surge has stopped the downward spiral in sectarian violence, allowing politics to move in a different direction. There are least three processes to watch: the on-going struggle for power among various parties and groups, recent state building efforts, and the cohesion of the four-party (two Shi’i and two Kurdish) coalition currently in power.
Shiite Islamists are likely to ultimately become the dominant power in post-war Iraq. As the Baath Party is dismantled by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the organizational counterweight to Shiite Islamist power is being weakened, and the Shiite Islamist groups have demonstrated that they are better organized and funded than other non-Baathist groups.
As the elections end, the hard work of constructing the new Iraq begins. While Iraqi voters can congratulate themselves on a remarkable achievement in the face of extraordinary difficulties, the situation remains precarious.
After the first large demonstrations organized by Shiite clerics in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked about the possibility that radical Islamists would rise to power. That, he answered, "ain't gonna happen, I just don't see how that's going to happen."
Though Iraqi political life since the ouster of Saddam Hussein may appear formless, it is following certain patterns familiar from other post-authoritarian settings. All countries where an authoritarian regime suddenly collapses go through a period of decompression in which political oxygen flows very rapidly into a previously closed system, producing disorientation and confusion.
As anti-American attacks escalate elsewhere in Iraq, the Kurdistan region remains steadfast in its support of the United States, if not all of the policies of the Coalition Provisional Authority. This does not, however,translate into unconditional support for Bush administration's political objectives in Iraq, which may become painfully obvious when Iraqis finally sit down to write a constitution.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Sunni Arab community — estimated to be less than twenty percent of the population — has been demonized and victimized by many inside and outside Iraq. Having dominated Iraq's political, educational, and military institutions since 1920, Sunni Arabs are now frightened by their sudden, dramatic loss of political power, social status, and economic well being.