A prayer offering at war's end in Iraq

By the time you read this article, the last American troops will be home from Iraq. About 1.5 million have rotated through the country since war began in 2003, but by the close of 2011 only a tiny contingent of a few hundred will remain to guard the American embassy in Baghdad. The war is over.

Among Iraqis, the United States exit has been met largely with ambivalence. Weary of war, most are pleased that full sovereignty is now back in the hands of the country, but cynical about the effectiveness of the Iraqi government. Khalid al-Asadi, a member of the ruling Dawa party, noted that “there is still soil for political conflict, and still not much common ground. This brings concern for the people . . . that political conflict could take Iraq back to Square 1, and to sectarian conflict” (see “Iraq after the US: Will it survive?” The Christian Science Monitor, December 10, 2011). The pervading fear is that the American exit creates a power vacuum which will allow bubbling sectarian tensions to boil over—or an unpredictable Iran to come to the fore.

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