Five years are a short time in history. In Iraq, it’s an eternity. Bombs, bunkers and sectarian conflict are all that is left of Haroun al-Rashid’s paradise.
Five years after Saddam Hussein was ousted, the American project of making Iraq the cornerstone of a democratic West Asia has failed, laudable though it was. If Iraq’s liberal society made it a good choice for the project, its sectarian complexion undermined the attempt to do so from the word go.
Today, it cannot even defend its borders. Turkey’s march into Kurdistan is an example. Iraqi protest was homeopathic. Even if it survives as a unitary state, internal cohesion is unlikely. In a well-run nation, public goods such as law and order, water and electricity can’t be divided on ethnic lines. In Iraq, they are. The situation can be salvaged if Iraq’s neighbours lend a helping hand. But that’s another story.