What’s Next For Iraq?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has an editorial in The Washington Post on his plan for the future of Iraq. Prime Minister al-Maliki has an extremely dangerous and difficult job ahead of him – he must fight sectarianism and terrorism while building the institutions necessary to support the future of Iraqi civil society.

Al-Maliki notes that improving security in Baghdad is critical to the future of Iraq:

Baghdad is home to a quarter of Iraq’s population and is its financial and political center. This government of national unity will launch an initiative to secure the capital and confront the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in many areas around it. We will meet head-on the armed gangs and terrorists who we believe constitute the main threat to security. Furthermore, we will develop and strengthen the country’s intelligence services, which represent the best form of defense against terrorist bombings.

We believe we will soon reach a tipping point in our battle against the terrorists as Iraqi security services increase in size and capacity, taking more and more responsibility away from the multinational forces. Key to meeting this target is ensuring that current forces are properly equipped and competent to take over security, while at the same time enhancing and expanding the training program.

Al-Maliki has promised to improve security, disarm the militias, and continue to advance the political process of reconciliation. Those will all be difficult tasks for him to achieve. However, those who shamefully argue that Iraq is doomed underestimate the will of the Iraqi people. If pluralism and democracy are worth anything, if they are based in some universal concept of human rights, then there is no reason why Iraq cannot build a pluralist and democratic society. As difficult as the situation in Iraq is, it is not intractable. The Iraqi Army is performing very well, but the Iraqi police and security forces need to be cleared of sectarian fighters and trained under the same standards as the army.

Al-Maliki provides the kind of leadership that has been lacking in Iraqi government during the ineffectual tenure of Ibrahim al-Jafaari. If he can fulfill his promises of improving security and working towards national reconciliation, Iraq can defeat terrorism and become a stable, functioning state based on democratic and pluralist principles.

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