The recent (December 2007) DoD report on Iraq reminds us that “The strategic goal of the United States in Iraq remains a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror.” The report makes clear that the recent improvements in security have not yet brought us much closer to that goal. A recent issue of the Economist, to which I cannot link, reports an advisor to General Petraeus as saying “the politics is going nowhere.” The economist comments “the fundamental flaw in Iraqi politics persists. The new Shia order remains loth, after centuries of oppression, to give the Sunnis a decent slice of power; and the minority Sunnis seem unable to accept second place in a devlolved state. Last week a deputy prime minister, a Sunni, denied that Shias outnumber Sunni Arabs.”
Both the DoD report and the Economist article provide information that puts Sunni cooperation with the U.S. in perspective. An important factor in bringing about this cooperation was the overreaching of al Qaeda in Iraq. The hope, of course, is that cooperation at the local level can be transformed into cooperation nationally among all Iraqi factions.