Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement, Iraqis have suffered through the worst year in living memory, facing violence, fragmentation and a disintegrated economy.
A year back Iraqis were promised that 2006 would be the fresh beginning of a, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq. Through an elected parliament and a unity government, they would find peace, and start rebuilding a country torn apart by the U.S.-backed UN sanctions and then the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.
But everyone agrees that the situation now is worse than ever. Leaders in Iraq disagree only to the extent they blame one another for the collapse in security that has led to worsened services and living conditions.
Iraq, the fantasy (courtesy of Australia’s comical Foreign Minister):
I have spent this past fortnight in Washington and London, maintaining our constant dialogue with the US and Britain about the gruelling challenges involved in securing the future of Iraq. We are all utterly convinced of one fundamental assessment: a premature withdrawal of coalition forces would be the worst possible outcome not only for the people of Iraq, but also for global security and stability. It would risk far greater bloodshed in Iraq, create the ingredients for wider regional conflict, and deliver a huge propaganda spur to jihadists worldwide…
Good progress has been made, with the training of about 300,000 Iraqi security forces, and Iraq’s own troops increasingly assuming responsibility, especially in southern Iraq.
Alexander Downer clearly hasn’t yet received the latest memo from the White House. “Cut and run” isn’t being used anymore, Alex. Besides, the Iraqi security forces, of which you speak so highly, are actually part of the problem, infected with insurgents and corruption. In Downer’s world, the Iraq war may be difficult, but by golly, victory is just around the corner.