The end of 2007 produced a telltale indication of what the New Year seems likely to bring to
Despite this, the George W Bush administration and the Iraqi government led by US-installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pushed a resolution through the UN Security Council to extend by another year the legal cover for foreign troops to operate in
The move on December 18 violated both the Iraqi constitution and the resolution passed earlier this year by the Iraqi Parliament.
Many Iraqi lawmakers say that any renewal of the UN mandate not ratified by Parliament is illegal. The move almost guarantees an increase in violence and a deepening of sectarian tensions.
"Bypassing the Iraqi Parliament and continuing to undermine the Iraqi political process will push more Iraqis to choose armed resistance instead of political non-violent resistance," Raed Jarrar,
The policy of building up armed Sunni militias is already leading to Sunni divisions with Shia groups, and with the Shia dominated government.
"One can only wonder, now that the United States has ‘liberated’ Iraq from Saddam Hussein, just who will liberate Iraq from the United States," Jarrar wrote in a recent article.
One of the more troubling aspects of what 2008 may bring
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of December 2007, 2.4 million Iraqis were internally displaced and at least another 2.25 million had fled the country.
A UN official in
The Iraqi government has announced that 46,000 refugees returned in October. But a UNHCR report released in November said that "only 14% of respondents said they were returning to
The majority of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in
Many who have returned have found their homes destroyed, looted or occupied by strangers.
The government is offering each returning family one million Iraqi dinars (about US$900). "This amount is not enough to buy furniture for two rooms," said Ibtissam, who has returned to live now in her brother’s house.
The Iraqi government is airing offers on state television of free bus rides from
Another crisis that seems certain to deteriorate in 2008 is the Turkish military assaults in the Kurdish north. Shelling and air strikes targeting the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have led more than 4,000 people to flee their homes during the last weeks of 2007.
All of this is against a backdrop of 50-70% unemployment within
More than $50 billion has been paid out to Western companies in
But construction continues at the US Embassy in
In May 2007, Tony Snow, former spokesman for President Bush, announced that Bush would like to see a lengthy
"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you’ve had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters.
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who reports from