Post-election jaw-jaw in Iraq
So far, at least, the aftermath of the recent Iraqi elections seems to be--as Austin Bay writes--more jaw-jaw than war-war.
If even Reuters says so, it's good enough for me.
There's a lot of post-election sturm and drang, to be sure. And, as I've said before, the rebuilding of Iraq is a process inherently fraught with danger, and only time will tell how it works out.
But here are some interesting facts from the Reuters article:
While both Sunnis and Shi'ites have talked tough since the partial results came out, they have also been negotiating behind the scenes, and analysts say the main parties and coalitions are largely staking their claims for power rather than threatening to disrupt the process of forming a government.
President Jalal Talabani met secular and Sunni politicians in a bid to find consensus, and asked them to refrain from describing their opponents in inflammatory sectarian terms.
And in Najaf, Rubaie met the one man who has arguably more influence over Iraqis than any politician -- the country's most powerful cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose word is law to many in the 60-percent Shi'ite majority.
Rubaie said: "Sistani demanded that all parties should stay calm, should not resort to violence and should focus efforts on construction, economic development and securing services."
I wouldn't quite call that civil war--it actually seems relatively civil to me.
The article also states something that sounds pretty ominous:
There has already been an increase in shootings and bombings after the lull of the election period.
Now we'd all very much like to see the violence in Iraq end; I know I would. But, on reflection, this post-election "increase" appears to amount (so far) only to a resumption of the smaller types of violence that have been commonplace in the country, rather than the very large-scale bombs that seemed to be an almost daily occurrence for a while.
I don't think anyone expected the election truce from the "insurgents" to last indefinitely, unless the Sunnis had won some sort of lopsided victory (which would have been very strange and suspicious, considering they are a definite minority, and might have provoked violence from other sources). So far there have been no post-election bombings of the kind that wreak havoc on scores of people. Of course, we could see those resume any day now. But at this point the situation does not even begin to resemble an actual civil war.
Yes, there's plenty of violence and anger, as this more recent Reuters article details. And the article seems only too eager to tie all the violence into anger about the election, although only a small part of it seems to be, by my reading of it. But notice the following tidbit, nestled almost imperceptibly into all the rest:
But despite militant rhetoric, seemingly aimed at increasing their leverage, Sunnis are negotiating with others to build a governing coalition on the basis of the existing poll results.
So, is the "militant rhetoric" mostly strategic? Will the coalition actually be built, and will it hold?
At the risk of being redundant, I'll repeat: wait and see.