Now it is time for America to listen to the Iraqis
With the massive turnout in Thursday's election, Iraqi's have sent an overwhelming message to the world that they want a political solution to the crisis in Iraq not a military one. It is time for the US government to listen to them. The previous heavy-handed tactics of the US military has goaded too many people into violent opposition of the occupation that even the Iraqi security forces are compromised by being both keepers of the peace and the front line of defense for foreign soldiers. If Iraq is to have a stable future this cannot go on.
America needs to announce a clear withdrawal plan and start the process immediately. Without this there will be no incentive for the newly elected parliament to negotiate an equitable compromise between the disparate parties. One side or another can dig in its heels and create a stalemate, confident that either the US military or the Insurgency will keep it safely in power. We have seen all too clearly after the last election the crisis such a stalemate can create.
Without the US presence, the mostly Sunni insurgency will lose its legitimacy and core support for being a force against occupation. The Shiite religious parties will lose their protection from a militarily stronger opponent. In such circumstances the politicians will be more motivated to seek compromise than to remain belligerent as their personal survival will depend on it. Also such compromise has now the endorsement of the people.
The on-going war in Iraq is no longer an American problem. A spiralling conflict will draw in regional countries and endanger the stable oil supply that keeps the world economy turning. The Iraqis and the world needs to send America a clear message. Now is the time seize the opportunity to leave Iraq on the positive note of a country united in the aim of resolving its differences politically or become one side of a spiralling, bloody conflict.