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Would It Take A Dictator to Stabilize Iraq?
NYU Report Discusses Likely Scenarios for Post-2010 Iraq
08/08/2007 4:48 PM ET
The re-emergence of a nationalist dictator could provide Iraq its best hope for stability, according to a number of scenarios proposed by a workshop held by New York University's Center on Global Affairs.

The exercise gathered an array of Iraq experts, led by Michael Oppenheimer, an associate professor of international affairs at CGA, for a one-day discussion on a range of possible outcomes for the future of Iraq. The proceedings of the exercise have been compiled into a recently released report--CGA Scenarios: Iraq Post-2010.

The three scenarios detailed in Iraq Post-2010 are:

National Unity Dictatorship: Stable Iraq, Stable Region. A nationalist leader emerges from the chaos of Iraq, a leader who is sufficiently independent of external players—the U.S., Iran, Al-Qaeda, Arab governments—to establish internal credibility as a unifying figure.

Contained Mess: Unstable Iraq, Stable Region. As Iraq disintegrates into all-out civil war, the neighboring countries, understanding the potential for contagion, radicalization and the threat to their regimes, manage to act collectively to avoid a worst-case regional conflict, even as they pursue proxy war on Iraqi territory.

Contagion: Unstable Iraq, Unstable Region. Iraq’s civil war spreads to adjoining states through refugee flows, growing radicalization of Arab populations, escalating terrorism and the deliberate efforts of regional rivals to destabilize each others’ governments.

The experts did not offer much in the way of an assessment on how to make one scenario more or less likely than another, but the group agreed to the helpfulness of a realist approach regarding the need for a strong Iraqi hand to crackdown on the violence.

Oppenheimer said, "The best idea we were able to generate—a National Unity Dictatorship—is the only plausible route to stability in both Iraq and the region, and one we can make more likely if we choose to. This would, of course, represent the failure of democratization in Iraq, at least in the short term.”

CGA Scenarios: Iraq Post-2010 scenarios_1.pdf

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