WINEP- ISRAHELLS WARMONGERS AND IRAQ WAR PROMOTERS :Assad's Fall and Iraqi Stability
This PolicyWatch is part of "Syrian Spillover: Perspectives from Neighboring States," a series of articles on how the conflict is affecting Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Assad's ouster would create significant risk of widespread violence in Iraq, but also a fleeting opportunity to regain leverage over the Maliki government.
As a fragile postconflict state, Iraq can ill afford the chaos currently roiling in neighboring Syria. If President Bashar al-Assad's regime collapses, large segments of north-central and western Iraq could become deeply unstable, with local factions opening a de facto civil war against federal forces, whether temporarily or indefinitely. For the United States, keeping Iraq on an even keel would be a supreme test of diplomatic skill at a moment when attention would understandably be focused on Syria itself. But such a crisis could also open a window of opportunity to reestablish influence over Baghdad.SECTARIAN DYNAMICS
Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites perceive the Syrian conflict very differently. The majority Shiite population sees it as a frightening, negative development. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration is the first modern Arab government to be led by Shiites, and in their view, major Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey will not tolerate this state of affairs in the long term. Reflecting their historical sense of victimization, the newly dominant Iraqi Shiites see the Syria crisis as the beginning of a revanchist Sunni backlash, and they fear their hold on Baghdad may be the next domino to fall.These factors, combined with continued Iranian influence, have spurred Maliki to seek a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict. He has also allowed Tehran-sponsored assistance to flow to Assad via Iraq, even tolerating the movement of Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias (e.g., Asaib Ahl al-Haqq) into Syria to bolster the regime's fighting strength.
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