The recent news that the Iraqi President (Jalal Talabani) suffered a stroke puts Iraqi political growth at a standstill. Unless the Iraqi political economy can sustain another political initiative in consolidating where Talabani left off, the Iraqi’s are vulnerable to Iranian influence.
Make no mistake, Talabani always triangulated. A polyglot and true disciple of Machiavelli, Talabani was and remained a survivor.
Few in State or Pentagon trusted him. He leaked American intelligence like a sieve to Iran. He was also Saddam Hussein’s point man for Iraqi weapon systems.
His health was never really that good. Even with a dozen trips to the Mayo Clinic, he continued to smoke, drink and remain obese. Having diabetes didn’t help either. As a consummate insider, he always found time for American enemies.
In early 2007, having flown to Jordan suffering a toothache, Kurdish intelligence sources revealed to the CIA that Talabani was meeting with Iranian intelligence in the border town of Penjwin to secure Barham Salih the Iraqi Presidency. Although the US remains naive throughout the Near East, its patrons still distribute political patronage through kinship.
The key question is spiritual as it is political: how to inculcate modernity into Islam. As of this writing, Islam seems destined not to permit an opening outside its confessional identity; seeking political legitimacy though ethnic, religious, ideological affinity.
Look for Gorran, the reformist party started by Noshirwan Mustafa, Talabani’s former deputy as an emerging star.