Winning: August 8, 2005

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Whos winning in Iraq? The government is getting stronger. Each month, more areas of the country become safe. But safe is a relative term in Iraq. The northern Kurdish areas, and most of the Shia Arab south have been free of constant violence for over a year. The areas being made safe now are towns and neighborhoods in central and western Iraq. Iraqs neighbors, who are all hostile for different reasons, have come to accept the prospect of an Iraqi democracy controlled by the Shia Arab majority. 

Each of the neighbors is hostile for a different reason. The Turks are afraid that the Iraq government will give the Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, and tolerate Iraqi Kurds supporting Kurdish separatism in Turkey. As far as the Turks are concerned, this is already happening. While most Iranians want the Iraqi democracy to succeed, the Islamic conservatives who run Iran do not. The Iranian hard liners are encouraging and supporting the Iraqi Arab Shia radicals to try and take control of the government. This is a long shot, and troublesome even as it fails. 

To the south, Kuwait wants Iraq to settle down, but cannot forget that even a democratic Iraq will probably still believe Kuwait should be part of Iraq. Some Kuwaitis believe that Iraq should be kept weak, lest there be another invasion of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia would rather have the Iraqi Sunni Arabs running Iraq, preferably as a dictatorship. The Saudis will always want that, but in the meantime, they have to work with the current Iraqi government because Islamic radicals are fighting democrats in Iraq as well as royalists in Saudi Arabia. Jordan is in a situation similar to Saudi Arabia, made worse by the fact that Jordan was always, for economic reasons, been an ally of Saddam Hussein. Syria is another dictatorship that does not feel comfortable with a democracy next door. Syrias situation is further complicated by the fact that Syria is run by non-Sunni Arabs, who belong to the Alawite sect. Moreover, the Syrian leadership share a common political philosophy with the deposed Saddam Hussein government. There have long been feuding Iraqi and Syrian factions of the Baath party. While Syria was a long time foe of Saddam because of this, they would prefer to have an Arab dictator (preferably Shia) running Iraq. But for the moment, Syria will be nice to whatever government runs Iraq. 

Most of Iraqs neighbors would like coalition forces out of Iraq, now, so that they can interfere on the side of their favorite faction, in an Iraqi civil war. That could get very ugly, but one thing most of Iraqs neighbors agree on, anything is preferable to an Iraqi democracy.

 


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