Ollivant in Politico: Why Iraq Is More Stable Than You Think
The news from Iraq is bad. Four distinct yet intertwined problems—the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the dysfunctional politics of Iraq, the utter collapse of the Syrian state and the larger cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran—have combined to disrupt the fragile stability gained by the Iraqis in the wake of the 2006-2008 civil war. Iraq is, once again, the paragon of a “wicked problem.”
There are, however, a number of rash conclusions being arrived at in the wake of the bad news. One does not have to read very far to find a series of assumptions being made about Iraq’s future—that Baghdad is about to fall, that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s days are numbered, that Kurdistan’s independence is imminent and that oil production is at risk. None of these are certain and some are extremely unlikely. Let’s cover them one by one.