March 05, 2013

Things Not Looking So Great in Iraq

I think that it would be wise to remember that the movement toward democracy in the Muslim Middle East began with the invasion of Iraq. For all the talk of the "Arab Spring", it was preceded by the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and the failed Green Revolution in Iran. Both, in turn, were spurred by Iraq's forced democratization.

To be honest, I don't know how democratization is going to turn out in the Middle East. Some of my friends who are experts in third-world development assure me that what is going on in the Middle East is quite common to all developing nation-states. That after several decades of fits and starts that they will get it right in the end. They see the fall of dictatorships as a good thing.

I hope they're right, but I don't think they are. The near term evidence seems to suggest that my pessimism is warranted:

A local leader of anti-Al Qaeda militiamen was shot dead Tuesday in western Baghdad, one of four people killed in violence in different parts of Iraq, officials said.

The pro-government militiamen, known as the Sahwa group, joined forces with U.S. troops to fight Al Qaeda during the Iraq war. Since then, the group has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider its members to be traitors.

Perhaps there's a longer view here in which Muslim countries in the Middle East learn to reconcile competing versions of Islam and the state, but I just don't see that happening any time soon.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:14 PM | Comments |