Thank you Tom Ricks, over at The Best Defence, for the appropriate title for this blog post. (He indeed uses "Iraq the unraveling" in a whole series . . . that's up to Jesus-only-knows how many.)
So what this post is about is The News that Shia cleric Moktada al-Sadr has called for elections in Iraq. Sadr is a key supporter to the Maliki's Shia-led government . . . and with recent arrest warrant against the Sunni vice president (who is now hiding in Iraqi Kurdistan) the day after the American troop pullout, the conditions are most ripe for the unraveling.
Here's my comment: I'm finishing up my book right now, Surfing the Middle East, and just glanced over a paragraph I wrote about Lebanon:
In Lebanon in particular, these tensions are inflamed by the governmental system—where each sect is appointed different access to the political power, reinforcing sectarian identity and taking away from the sense of being Lebanese.
Of course Iraq does not define political power by sect . . . but the lesson still stands: Don't allow the governmental system--that reads great in some Western-published essay on "power sharing"--turn into the very force that reinforces sectarianism.
The challenge for Iraq's democracy will be to maintain what's left of Iraqi identity while avoiding dictatorship.
UPDATE: How to Save Iraq From Civil War was an interesting "counter Dawa" opinion piece in the New York Times today. Worth a read, if for no other reason to hear what the opposing voices are saying in Iraq. (And read it while you can, because if Iraq falls back into dictatorship, I would imagine that these sort of op-eds would cease . . . along with the people who write them.)