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June 13, 2014

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One factor that just does not get enough airing is that lots of (upper class) Sunnis have absolutely no interest in treating Shi'ites or other non-Arab Sunnis on an equal basis. Al Maliki may have been quite truculent in abiding by any agreements that he made with Sunni leaders, and he certainly never gave the average Sunni any inkling that the state might work for them, but it's important to understand that there wasn't always empowered potential partners to make deals with. If Al Maliki falls, what makes you think that any resulting Sunni control would behave any better than Al Sissi and his government? None of the players in Iraq are anything but violent majoritarians susceptible to genocidal tendencies.

Could the Peshmerga take Mosul?

Yes, absolutely, and the eventually will. Consolidation in Kirkuk is a priority, and probably firming up the lines around Irbil so that ISIS doesn't doorstep them again while they're doing other things.

Probably also negotiating with Turkey and Iran right now.

Negotiating on what? The mechanics of a KRG declaration of independence?

Rather than arguing about tactics in advance of goals, I'd ask what the goal should be.

My answer is that we'd like a reasonably stable, nonauthoritarian, tolerant government that cooperates in developing oil fields. And a pony. In the short term, maybe the best we can hope for is slowing down the civil wars.

A win for Maliki will probably put us closer to that goal than the alternative.

So the question becomes how do we help Maliki win, unless someone thinks that a relatively peaceful partition can be pulled out of a magician's hat. Or else we start a crash nuclear power plant building program.

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