Political Bloodshed in Iraq – When It Will End

Every day brings fresh reports of killings in Iraq – US and other occupation soldiers, yes, but even more Iraqis – Sunnis and Shiites alike. Why this last?

Iraq has been in an interregnum since Saddam was brought down. So long as the occupation lasts, there is no long-term successor regime. Therefore political jockeying for power must continue – pari passu with the occupation. Therefore – so long as the occupation continues – potential rivals for power (and their supporters) will also continue to be killed – at all political levels: municipal, provincial, national.

Thus the longer the occupation lasts, the longer the interregnum, and the longer the political killings go on…And the longer ordinary Iraqis have to live with daily, continuing fear, bombings, shootings, lack of water and electricity…

The occupation can only end when the US politicians involved feel they have squeezed the maximum political gain from it. At that point, the political benefits come from withdrawal; staying on means political losses. It is to be hoped that this point is reached shortly after the 15 December elections.

At that point, too, the covert war for power amongst the various groups of Iraqi politicians – Sunni and Shiite, possibly Kurdish and others – will no doubt come into the open. The length of this power struggle cannot be predicted – but winners will eventually emerge. Then and then only, will there be any possibility of peace and security for ordinary Iraqis.

Meanwhile the hapless Iraqis remain hostage to two sets of politicians – their own and the American. All that the Iraqis – and their friends – can do, is pray.

October 22, 2005