I love Fouad Ajami's optimism about Iraq.
"So Iran has designs on Iraq. Well what of it? A long border, the traffic of centuries in faith and commerce, runs between the two countries. But no Iraqi project in the offing contemplates making Iraq a satrap of the Persian state. The Iraqis are neither Lebanese seeking outside patronage, nor Palestinians in need of money and guns from foreign donors. They are a tough breed, they have their own material means, oil aplenty, and a determination to keep their country whole and theirs.
If anything, that border with Iran concentrates the Iraqi mind. The Iraqis know their Persian neighbors. The kind of romance about Iran entertained in the Bekaa Valley and Greater Beirut, or in the Gaza Strip, has no takers in Iraq. The Shiism of Iraq is tenacious and Arab through and through.
The sacred geography of Shiism is in Iraq, and clerics in the holy city of Najaf, or in Kazimiyya on the outskirts of Baghdad, display no deference to the theology of Qom. I hazard to guess from discussions with many Shiite jurists in Iraq that no one of any consequence in the clerical hierarchy believes that Iran's "Supreme Leader," Ali Khamenei, is a scholar of genuine standing and religious authority.
Iraqis of all stripes are wary of Iran. In the provincial elections of 2009, pro-Iranian candidates were trounced and Iraqi nationalists carried the day.
There plays upon Iraqis the hope that their country can make its own way, defying the obituaries of doom written for their new order in neighboring lands and beyond. There is a transparent parliamentary culture in Iraq, and we for our part ought to be proud of what we have given birth to.
Leave it to the Egyptians and the Arabs of the Peninsula and the Persian Gulf to belittle the new order in Iraq. They threw everything at it but it managed to survive. Peace has not settled upon Baghdad, but this Iraq, even in its current condition, is a rebuke to the dynasties and the dictatorships of the Arab world." --Fouad Ajami