President Obama announced the end of the US combat mission in Iraq on August 31, but the wounds of the seven-and-a–half-year war will take a long time to heal.
Iraq's future is grim. Explosions and terrorist attacks accompanied the departure of the US troops. Whether the Iraqi military and police can hold the line after taking over responsibility for security is a focus of concern at home and abroad. Effective security will determine the pace and success of reconstruction.
But it is not only security; the political situation is also uncertain. Iraq faces serious political challenges – above all the need to secure reconciliation between the different communities. Disputes between the Iraqi army and Kurdish troops could easily escalate into armed conflict.
The key issue is the distribution of oil revenues. Oil accounts for 90 percent of Iraqi government revenue. Any delay in restoring oil production means a delay to building the capabilities of the Iraqi military and resolving the country's security problems. How the oil revenue is shared is the main issue for all religious and political factions, and the key to creating peace and stability. Progress towards peace will translate into political and economic progress. That's why the Iraqi government has put so much effort into devising an oil bill that can make a positive contribution to domestic politics.
The entire international community is hoping for political progress and national unity in Iraq. Whether from a humanitarian or a geopolitical point of view, everyone wants the Iraqi people to be able to live in peace and build a prosperous economy. Iraqi unity will also influence the prospects for peace in the entire region, starting with the outcome of the Israel-Palestine talks.
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn.
For more information please visit: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/node_7077605.htm
(This article was translated by Li Shen.)