World View: Its three main communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – cannot seem to run the country together, and yet none can run it alone
By Patrick Cockburn
Sunday 01 January 2012
".....Disaster may come, but perhaps not yet. Iraqi politics can be misleading because, with the country so violent at the best of times, furious political confrontations do not necessarily lead to all-out conflict. Each side has a lot to lose from the final disintegration of the state.
The future of Iraq may well be decided in the capitals of its neighbours over the next year. The US remains important in Baghdad, despite the departure of its troops. The more divided Iraqis are, the more the influence of outside powers increases. Unfortunately, the Arab Spring has destabilised the whole Middle East, with Iran fearing it will lose its most important ally, Syria, while the Sunni-Shia struggle is becoming more intense in countries such as Bahrain.
Occasionally, Mr Maliki sounds like an Iraqi nationalist, but under pressure he plays the sectarian card, usually by frightening the Shias with the phantom of a Baathist and Sunni counter-revolution. But, as the Baathists and the Americans found to their cost, anybody who tries to monopolise power in Iraq, ignoring other power centres, creates the conditions for their own failure."