Unfinished Business: An American Strategy for Iraq Moving Forward

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Iraq still hangs in the balance. The dramatic improvements in Iraqi security between 2007 and 2009 have produced important, but incomplete changes in Iraq’s politics. These changes make it possible to imagine Iraq slowly muddling upward, building gradually toward a better future.

However, Americans must be constantly on guard against the considerable potential for Iraq to slip into all-out civil war. There are dozens of scenarios— from military coups, to official misconduct, to the assassination of one or two key leaders—that could spark such violence. The conflict might look somewhat different than before, perhaps featuring Arab-Kurd conflict, greater intra-Shi’i fighting, or various parts of the Iraqi security forces warring for control of the state.

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