The Geography Blog focusing on all things geography: human, physical, technical, space, news, and geopolitics. Also known as Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze!
Written by a former National Geographic employee who also proudly served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The elections are over and the votes have been counted. In the south the Prime Minister's Dawa Party coalition has crushed the opposition. In the various provinces the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council or Muqtada al Sadr's few remaining followers will form individual coalitions with Dawa to have some power.
In the Sunni provinces, the Iraqi Islamic Party has gained ground at the expense of the Kurdish parties (the small Kurdish minority outvoted the Arab Sunnis in 2005). The only exception was in Anbar were the ruling IIP lost to an urban/tribal coalition.
The election results in Anbar have many wondering "what next?" Those in power with the IIP may have to face corruption charges for the graft that made them infamous. Hamas-al-Iraq and 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, two insurgent groups who hate al Qaeda more than the Coalition Forces but not by much, have long been allied with IIP to give them cover. The new ruling coalition is much more American-friendly. These nationalist insurgents must weigh their loyalty to the IIP against their loyalty to Anbar and its government which wants a peaceful withdrawal of American forces.
Al Qaeda will always be al Qaeda. Its leadership will never reach out for peace. Lower level foot soldiers, most who joined to fight for Iraq against the no longer existent Shia threat, must choose between their Sunni jihad and peace in Iraq.
A wild card are the Baathists. Most Sunni Arabs supported the Baathist Saddam. Today, the Syrian-based New Baath Party tries to restart a nationalist insurgency against the Government of Iraq. Most Sunni Arabs have moved on from the Baathist party, but a small but motivated subpopulation has yet to make up if it should be part of the New Iraq or join the Baathists. They hold Pandora's box in their hands.