Wikipedia refers to the Iraq war as follows: "The Iraq War, or the War in Iraq (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military), was a conflict that occurred in Iraq from March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011, though sectarian violence continues since and has caused hundreds of fatalities." Well said. Again, call this campaign anything you want, but realize this was and is part of the global War on Terror. If you believe this invasion was disastrously stupid, then please tell me how you think the last 10 years of fighting terrorism would have been better with Saddam Hussein still in power in Iraq. What follows below is discussion around how to monitor the developments in Iraq as they fight to establish a country that is friendly with itself and its neighbors.

With ISIS on the Run, an Unexpected Leader Emerges in Iraq

from The Wall Street Journal,

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who generated few expectations, stitched together a military alliance and damped sectarianism.

Three years ago, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the existence of an Islamic State caliphate and proceeded to sweep his forces through northern Iraq and toward Baghdad, threatening the viability of the fragile country. Today, the leader declaring an end to the caliphate is someone few would have imagined in the position, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. A man seen as the favorite of none but acceptable to all, the 65-year-old former electrical engineer has managed to turn that tepid sentiment into a defining strength. Over nearly three years in office, Mr. Abadi has narrowed gaps between Iraq’s warring Shiite and Sunni politicians. He balanced competing interests among geopolitical rivals Iran and the U.S., and spearheaded an overhaul of Iraqi security forces, who had fled advancing Islamic State fighters. Iraq is close to retaking Mosul, Islamic State’s psychologically important stronghold. “Abadi has magnificently shifted between leading and balancing,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “If he led too much then there’d be too many alienated people, and if he balanced too much there would be no forward progress.” Today, Iraq’s security forces are on the verge of defeating Islamic State, the key requirement if the nation wants to enjoy a stable and cohesive future, despite daunting challenges that remain. Sectarian anger still simmers, and the country’s economy and infrastructure have been devastated by years of fighting.

“Abadi is riding high,” said one U.S. official in Washington. “But the government needs to show that it can act to make people’s lives better, and probably the window for that is pretty limited. If it doesn’t, all that goodwill Abadi built up will diminish.”

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