One of my favorite analysts of Iraqi affairs is Toby Dodge, who manages to bring perspective others lack. I think over the last year he has been a bit more optimistic than I about where Iraq is going, so I was interested to see that his new analysis is pretty pessimistic. He weighs the new political situation in the balance and finds it wanting:
Those in Baghdad and across the northwest of the country who put aside their scepticism about the post-2003 political settlement are going to get precious little for their vote in March. The grave danger is that a fairly remarkable level of political mobilisation in the national elections will mutate into a justifiable sense of alienation, anger and possibly a return to political violence sustained by a widespread support base who once again feel excluded from national politics.
It seems to me that the only way to avoid this destabilising outcome is to give major spending ministries to senior members of Iraqiyya in the cabinet negotiations that will unfold over the next 30 days.
Either way, the events of last week have not been good for the sustainability of post-regime-change Iraqi politics.
(HT to JW)
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.