I have a pair of fearless contrarian predictions for our troubled friends. First up, Iran, the story in 2009-2010 will be Iran’s role as the world’s best friend in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad will be gone, replaced by a new leader who emphasizes global economic integration and regional leadership, seeking to work with, rather than against, Iran’s well-educated and ambitious young people.
Well, eight months from now the end will be in sight. There will be major positive developments as the local population embrace opportunity to take control of their communities and the politicos finally make the big-money compromises necessary to get buy in from all vested interests. The counterinsurgency effort, shaped by General Petraeus, will continue to secure major gains and we will announce plans for further withdrawal with remaining troops concentrating on border security
The end result will be far better than would be expected over the last few years, with credit going to the local Iraqis for winning the peace. There will be no apologies from those who wanted to withdraw TODAY (or sixth months ago) in the middle of a civil war — all questioning of these parties will be met with the response, “Well, I also didn’t want to go there in the first place, and I was right about that,” which will be true, but alas, irrelevant.
Iraq will fall under an increasingly benign Iranian influence. There will be tension between the Sunni and Shia states, with the Sunni reputation suffering from their illiberal regimes and economic exploitation.