I’m traveling this week, but still paying close attention to Iraq’s parliamentary elections, where it seems things are holding fairly steady despite the fears of instability before the election and heinous terrorism up to and on election day itself.
Iraq has a long way to go, and the outcome of the elections for Iraqi and American policy are far from clear. But it is heartening not only to see the determination of the Iraqi people to resist violence in order to make their voices heard, but also the steadfastness of President Obama in refusing outside pressure to change our timeline for withdrawal.
In the coming days, I will be getting much of my news on Iraq from The Middle East Channel, a fantastic and brand new joint venture of the New America Foundation and Foreign Policy magazine.
Managed by my colleagues Daniel Levy and Amjad Atallah in cooperation with scholar, blogger and Middle East expert Marc Lynch, this new venture will provide an important forum for informed, needed comment on Iraq, Iran, Israel/Palestine, and many other issues of vital importance in today’s policy debates.
Here’s part of Lynch’s election analysis from today:
The other main headline of the Iraqi election campaign has to be the overwhelmingly nationalist tone of all major politicians and the marginal American role in the process. The election campaign (as opposed to the results, which we still don’t know) showed clearly that Iraqis are determined to seize control of their own future and make their own decisions. The U.S. ability to intervene productively has dramatically receded, as the Obama administration wisely recognizes. The election produced nothing to change the U.S. drawdown schedule, and offered little sign that Iraqis are eager to revise the SOFA or ask the U.S. to keep troops longer. Iraq is in Iraqi hands, and the Obama administration is right both to pay close attention and to resist the incessant calls to “do more.” This doesn’t mean ignoring Iraq — the truth is, the Obama administration has been paying a lot more attention to Iraq than the media has over the last year. It means moving to develop a normal, constructive strategic relationship with the new Iraqi government, with the main point of contact the Embassy and the private sector rather than the military, and adhering in every way possible to the SOFA and to the drawdown timeline.
— Steve Clemons