The country’s huge challenges following the U.S. withdrawal, including corruption, new waves of violence and crippled infrastructure:
The end of the U.S. military’s long, bloody adventure in Iraq signals the start of a new, highly uncertain chapter in the country’s development. In the scenario conjured by optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials, an Iraq free of tyranny, terrorism, and foreign occupation will transform itself into a modern and open economy in the heart of the Arab world. That vision recedes a bit more every day as sectarian tensions reemerge, corruption hinders development, and the country’s political leadership moves against its opponents and flirts with autocracy. Iraqis are reluctant to ask aloud if the most recent attacks represent the deadly half-life of war, or, as Abdel Sadeh and many others I spoke to during four weeks in December and January say they fear, another meltdown.