Many, including myself, have argued that the continued presence of U.S. troops does nothing but delay the inevitable - in a true, nonrigged election, the Shi'a majority in Iraq will rule the country. Any coalition between the religious factions currently operating in Iraq will eventually be suborned to the will of the majority.
The current Iraqi government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bush Administration, won't last long. Wolfowitz's strongman, Allawi, is a tiger with no teeth as things currently stand. My guess is that he doesn't make it to the end of the year, but what do I know?
I do know that it's only a matter of time before the whole Sunni / Shi'a thing blows up into a major shitstorm. al Sadr is, once again, buying time. And as the Chronicle opinion piece from Aaron Glantz notes, Shi'ite clerics are the most visible "reconstructors" to the Iraqi people. Of course, the clerics and religious factions have an agenda - solidifying their power base in advance of elections at the beginning of 2005.
And here's something about the U.S. occupation that I was not aware of until reading the article:
Before the U.S. military branded al-Sadr a criminal, his followers had organized elections in many of Iraq's poor Shi'ite slums and in smaller cities such as Najaf, forcing out local governments appointed by the North Carolina contractor, Research Triangle International. While big U.S. firms (Halliburton, Bechtel et al.) have failed to fix Iraq's electricity grid and telephone system, al-Sadr's organization has done its best to build a functioning society.So, after "mission accomplished", the U.S. government actually outsourced the appointment of local governments to private contractors?? What the hell is that all about? No wonder the vast majority of Iraqis can no longer abide by the extended American presence.
Let's not forget for one moment that whatever government is installed after January, 2005, the Bush administration has declared its intention, over and over, to maintain a significant presence in Iraq, via the establishment of several "super bases" inside the country. This is obviously not going to go over big with anyone in Iraq - and in fact, just solidifies the meme of "perpetual war", courtesy of BushCo.