Strategic Implications of Intercommunal Warfare in Iraq

Strategic Implications of Intercommunal Warfare in Iraq

Strategic Implications of Intercommunal Warfare in Iraq

Strategic Implications of Intercommunal Warfare in Iraq

Excerpt

The future of Iraq is uncertain. The country is in a dangerous phase. The removal of a brutal dictatorship by coalition forces in April 2003 has given the Iraqi people hope for a new and better political system, where individuals do not have to live in continuing fear and uncertainty. Nevertheless, the Iraqi people must also address the difficult challenges of self-government for a diverse population, with major ethnic and sectarian groups that often maintain widely divergent agendas. If they fail to do this and an ethnic/sectarian war ensues, the consequences will be dire, not only for Iraq, but for the entire Middle Eastern region.

This monograph, by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, does not predict an Iraqi civil war, which is the worst-case outcome for the current struggle in Iraq. Neither can this monograph fully rule out this possibility since the responsibility for preventing such an eventuality is ultimately Iraqi and not American, and U.S. analysts cannot predict with certainty what Iraqis will do once they take full control of their own country. Rather, this monograph underscores what is at stake in the Middle East by a comprehensive discussion of potential region-wide consequences should an ethnic and sectarian war actually occur. This work therefore serves as an important warning of how an Iraq civil war could offer new strategic opportunities, but especially dangers, to many of the states within the Middle East. Dr. Terrill's work performs this important task by examining how an Iraqi civil war may develop and how this could influence the internal stability and foreign policies of regional countries.

The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer this monograph as a contribution to the national security debate on this important subject as our nation grapples with a variety of problems associated with the U.S. presence in Iraq and the new strategic reality following Saddam's removal from power. This analysis should be especially useful to U.S. military strategic leaders as they seek to understand the complicated interplay between Iraq and its neighbors at this critical point. It reflects analysis conducted with an information cutoff date of December 2004.

DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR.
DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR. Director
Strategic Studies Institute . . .

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