- Sunni and Shia is no longer the main dividing line in Iraq
- Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is now a key ally of non-sectarian reformers
- Deadlock in Baghdad could help dictatorial ex-Premier Nouri al-Maliki return to power
- Any positive scenario is contingent on an agreement with the Kurds to retake Mosul
Iraq is one of the very few countries in the Middle East and North Africa that regularly hold competitive elections. Yet the civil war of 2006, Shia and Sunni insurgencies against occupation forces, and subsequent terrorist activity all gave the impression of Iraq as a failed state. As a result, the world lost interest in the fate of Iraqi democracy. Leaving the country alone with its political inexperience inevitably led to setbacks, wasting opportunities to create a decentralized federal state.