The Politics of Iraq
Prime Minister Maliki is backed by both Bush and Ahmadinejad
I think it's important that we understand what's behind the recent spike in violence in Iraq. Unfortunately, the mainstream media isn't doing a very good job of providing context. If you watch the news and read the leading newspapers, it's easy to get the impression that the fighting in Iraq is the result of long-simmering hatreds between Sunnis and Shiites, or between Arabs and Kurds. Or that it's the result of interference by outside forces like al Qaeda and the government of Iran.
In reality, though, the conflict in Iraq is just an old-fashioned power struggle over a few difficult issues. The most important of those issues are:
1) Whether Iraq will be a united nation with a strong central government, or a confederation of regional governments.
2) The extent to which Iraq's oil will be privatized.
3) Whether the revenue from Iraq's oil will be distributed equitably across the nation, or whether oil producing regions will be allowed to keep the lion's share of the money.
Here's a few links that go into these issues in greater depth:
Five Things You Need to Know to Understand the Latest Violence in Iraq
This is a sort of primer for those who wish to understand Iraqi politics. Briefly, the points made in the article are these:
1) The violence is political, not sectarian in nature.
2) Sadr is very unpopular among ordinary Iraqis.
3) Iraqi security forces behave as a militia, and are backed by both the Iranians and the Americans.
4) The Sadrists are expected to make significant gains in regional elections, which will be held in October, so the current crackdown is widely seen as an attempt to subvert those elections.
5) The Maliki government is trying to criminalize dissent.
Here's some more links on the politics behind the conflict:
The fighting in Basra may be the decisive battle for control over the oil sector, local government and the fate of the province
Nationalism and the War on Sadr
Politics of the Sadr versus Maliki-Hakim confrontation
Americans are fighting the Iranians' war for them
(via appletree, cross posted at Liberal Avenger)