Toby Dodge: Despite the optimism, Iraq is close to the edge | Comment is free | The Observer:
"On my last trip to Iraq this year, the population was holding its breath, waiting to see if the internecine strife had finished or simply stalled while all sides rearm."
"There is a grave danger that the elections could be undermined, either by increased violence or by widespread electoral fraud. At present, the United Nations is set to play a minor role in the elections. By December, the US, already redeployed to remote bases, will also have little ability to oversee the vote. However, Obama could use the Iraqi national elections as a vehicle for greatly increasing the international community's involvement in Iraq.
An appeal by him at the UN for assistance would be hard to reject. This could act as the trigger for much greater international participation in the country, reducing the potential for Iraq to descend into civil war and help the United States to withdraw without leaving a political vacuum in Baghdad. The alternative was on display in Baghdad last week, the unrealistic and deeply opportunistic optimism of Bush and Brown. That approach offers little help to Iraq beyond wishful thinking."