THOUGH still lacerated by the tragedy of the past five years, Iraq is at last getting better all round. The violence, albeit still ferocious in parts of the country, has subsided dramatically. The American military “surge” that began a year ago has worked better than even the optimists had hoped, helped by ceasefires with Shia militias, by accords with Sunni tribal leaders and by the fact that sectarian cleansing in many areas is sadly complete.
Politics is also beginning to stutter towards something approaching normality, with signs of an accommodation between the three main communities—Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds—and the prospect of a series of vital laws, on such matters as sharing the revenue from oil, being passed, though they are still subject to endless last-minute hiccups. Some key laws, for instance on pensions and the budget, have recently been enacted. A set of provincial elections towards the end of this year has a chance of empowering the aggrieved Sunni Arabs. Various Sunni ministers who walked out of the government a year ago in a huff may soon be back in.
The economy has begun to grow fast too, though its ripples have yet to be felt across the country. The soaring price of oil, along with a mild improvement in production to just above its pre-war peak, mean that the government has more cash to spend than it is has had since the first Gulf war of 1991.
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