Iraq’s Balancing Act


Despite recent violence, Marc Lynch believes it was wise for the US to leave:

I argued years ago that only an American withdrawal would force Iraqi politicians to find a sustainable political equilibrium. I never expected it to be a pretty one, or to be an easy process. But I would say that this is exactly what has been happening and what we will see unfold over the coming years.

Prime Minister Maliki was deeply reckless and misguided to try to arrest Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi — and yes, it is extremely worrying to watch Hashemi flee for refuge in the Kurdish areas. Insurgents have carried out some horrific bombings to try and destabilize the situation. While a lot of people see this as the opening stage of the coming collapse, I saw it as their testing the new political arena to see what they can get away with and how far they can go. That's not a surprise. All Iraqi political actors, from the Sadrists to Iraqiyya, will do the same.  The test is whether the new Iraq can absorb those provocations and settle down. I hope and pray that it can. But this was going to happen no matter when the U.S. withdrew — and this was the time to do it.

It's worth pointing out that Iraqis favored American withdrawl:

 60% said that the Americans pulling out of the country was good, 30% said it was negative, and 10% were unsure. 68% of Shiites had a positive response, with a plurality of Sunnis, 48%, and Kurds, 45%, having the same view. When asked what emotion they had about the event, 22% said they were happy, 35% were worried, and 30% were both. The most worried were Sunnis at 45%, and the most happy were the Shiites at 26%. This showed the divergent opinions Iraqis had about the December 2011 withdrawal date. A majority wanted the U.S. to leave, but were apprehensive about what would happen next.

(Photo: An Iraqi policeman in Baghdad on January 8 takes pictures of a simulated dead body in a forensic drill during the first graduation ceremony for 440 national policemen, trained solely by the Iraqi trainers without the support of Italian Carabinieri since the withdrawal of U.S. forces. by Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)