Iraq and Gulf Analysis

In Denver, No “Plan for Iraq” Yet

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 28 August 2008 0:00

In a positive development, Senator Joe Biden yesterday refrained from any mention of his previous “plans for Iraq” which include a soft partition scheme and a more recent (and more general) plan for “active federalization”. Instead he referred more generally to Barack Obama’s position on the war in Iraq.

What remains for the Democratic Party is to define an exit strategy that does not convert the Iraq situation into a net gain for Iran. As long as the final phase of the US occupation of Iraq involves consolidation of the Maliki regime and the basic system of government adopted in 2005 (rather than a weakening of these two factors) such gains for Iran will be the inevitable outcome. What is missing in Democratic discussion of exit strategies is the realisation that US policies in Iraq from 2003 to 2008 (and specifically Washington’s particular choice of partners among the Shiites) have unintentionally strengthened Iran’s position in Iraq quite considerably, so that leaving Iraq tomorrow would not in any sense mean a return to the status quo ante of 10 April 2003. This point may perhaps seem a little long-winded for an election campaign where there will be a preference for black and white caricatures, but for those who truly care about the political stability of the Gulf region in the long term it should be seen as the fundamental issue.

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