But the real driver of violence in Iraq is arguably Baghdad’s over-centralization of power, which came too soon and was infused with sectarian paranoia. The United States was initially wary of this danger: The formula of all-inclusive power sharing — muhasa in Arabic — was a cornerstone of U.S.-led policy in Iraq until 2008, and the United States also made sure that the principle of administrative decentralization was baked into the Iraqi Constitution. This policy reflected a powerful truth — that post-Saddam Iraq was not ready for a political system with absolute winners and absolute losers….
The root of Iraq’s violence is thus not ancient hatreds between Sunni and Shia or Kurd and Arab, but between decentralizers and recentralizers — and between those who wish to put Iraq’s violent past behind them, and those determined to continually refight it.
Knights’ conclusion, however, is surprisingly optimistic. He points to new efforts by the US and Iraq’s neighbors that could push the country’s centralization-crazed leadership to reconsider their strategy. Read the article here.