Eurasia Group is pleased to release the third year-ahead outlook in our series of "Top 7 political risks for 2007," in which analysts from the Middle East & Africa practice consider political risks associated with Iraq's struggle for survival.
According to analysts, "the key risk facing Iraq in 2007 is the collapse of the central government leading to the fracturing of the state and the spread of sectarian violence across the Middle East." Analysts assign a 40% likelihood of collapse, and should this occur, "neighboring states will be compelled to support various ethnic and sectarian proxies in the ensuing battle for control over parts of the country."
According to the outlook, options for the US are grim. Facing state collapse, analysts predict "US forces will either quickly withdraw or be caught in the middle of a civil conflict involving numerous Iraqi factions." Yet, they add, "the administration has few viable options for extricating troops without leaving behind a failed state." Immediate withdrawal, "staying the course," and partition all hold serious challenges and consequences, while none of these options address the core security issue: the impunity with which the Shia militias and Sunni insurgents are able to commit violent acts.
The outlook discusses the likely next steps for the Bush Administration in Iraq, including troop levels and the possibility of a political deal with the Sunnis, confronting Moqtada al Sadr and his Mahdi militia directly, and even toppling the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
The Top 7 Risks series: