Iraq: Apocalypse Soon?

Within six months Iraq will be a very different place. If the American plan works, sovereignty will be transferred to an appointed government and the occupation will end. But powerful figures are arguing for elections before then and the UN has stepped back in to help. The danger is that the forces that have caused such mayhem for the occupiers may turn their firepower on the new government, especially if it does not reflect the aspirations of all Iraqis. That could be a formula for disaster.

The World Today Published 1 March 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 5 minute READ

Professor Gareth Stansfield

Professor of Middle East Politics, University of Exeter

Events seem to be coming to a head in Iraq. As the country lurches towards the creation of a transitional authority, the US finds itself pressed with an increasingly determined Shi’i demand for full democratic elections. In the north, once peaceful Kurdistan has been rocked by devastating explosions, killing some of the region’s most influential and able politicians. In the centre, the insurgency against the occupation continues to go from strength to strength, with the US seemingly unable to prevent escalation.

Faced with increasingly polarised positions quite clearly following ethnic and sectarian divides, the United Nations has returned primarily as a negotiator between the US and the Shi’a. But it must also contend with Kurdish demands in the Iraqi Governing Council and operate in an environment where terrorist cells strike with apparent ease. The stakes are high.

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