From Houston Chronicle: Pivotal Year Ahead in Iraq.
Preliminary election results showed religious Shiite factions were taking most of the votes but would probably have to form a governing coalition with the Kurds in the north and other groups. Whether the minority Sunnis -- whose members dominated Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule and joined the anti-U.S. insurgency -- will feel they have a stake in the new Iraq remains to be seen. ...
The political rhetoric in Washington from such Democrats as Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania to pull most U.S. troops out of Iraq by the middle of 2006 seemed to cool in the days after Iraq's election. ...
"A quick pullout would leave a vacuum that Iran would be all too happy to fill," said James Phillips, a Middle East expert with the Heritage Foundation. "The Iraqis who are supporting a democratic government would be completely demoralized. It could lead to a very quick unraveling of national cohesion."
The likely result of a swift U.S. departure would be a Kurdish ministate in northern Iraq, a Shiite theocracy in the south and anarchy in the so-called Sunni triangle around Baghdad, analysts said.
From Strategy Page: It's All About the Shia, Stupid!.
Within Iraq, there are many Shia factions. The more determined ones (and there are more than one) are willing to use terror and violence to establish a religious dictatorship in Iraq. But they are only factions (mainly the Badr and Sadr groups). Iraq, as a whole, is not tolerant of more dictatorship. Iraqis have seen what a religious dictatorship has done to Iran, donít want Iranians telling them what to do, and donít want another Sunni Arab dictator either.
Establishing a working democracy in Iraq is a messy business. There are many factions, and some of them are willing to terrorize and kill to get their way. Americans have a hard time accepting that sort of behavior as normal, but itís normal in Iraq.
From The Charleston (WV) Gazette: Danger: Balkanizing Iraq.
After Shiite religious parties swept the recent parliamentary election in Iraq, crushing secular candidates backed by Washington, several observers warned that the shattered nation may sink into civil war between minority Sunni Muslims, majority Shiite Muslims and Kurds. ...
Perhaps these alarms are exaggerated. We certainly hope so. The entire world is hoping that a workable democracy can grow in Iraq. It will be supremely tragic if President Bush's invasion merely replaced a cruel dictator with a cruel theocracy -- or, worse, loosed religio-ethnic groups to fight each other savagely.
Posted by Forkum at January 1, 2006 07:39 PM