It is a time of great change for Iraq.
With U.S. troops officially having ended their involvement and returning all military powers back to the Iraqi military, Iraq now faces a daunting future without America's direct assistance.
I believe that Iraq can pull through these unstable times. If the Iraqi people seek a fair, non-radical form of leadership in their government, they can attain stability as a functioning nation.
Right now, though, it might not look that way. Recent political turmoil was brought to light when Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordered Iraq's vice president off an airplane and was held on suspicions that members of his security detail were related to a string of assassinations.
Now, while it could be said that this was merely one politician acting on information pertaining to serious matters such as assassination, it must also be said that the Iraqi PM is a Shiite Muslim, while the vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, is a Sunni. These are two different religious sects which are consistently feuding.
Prior to the detaining of the Hashimi, six members of the his security detail had been arrested in the past few weeks. Several of these guards confessed to involvement with assassinations of Shiite politicians in recent years.
Hashimi was on his way to Kurdistan for dinner with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani when he was ordered to exit the plane so that he could be questioned by authorities.
This immediately prompted a swift reaction from many Iraqi politicians which resulted in Maliki's backing down and allowing Hashimi to continue.
This whole ordeal led many to question whether or not Hashimi could be arrested. It also brings about questions related to Iraq's political future. What will 2012 bring for the governing body of Iraq?
I fear that if such political drama continues; it could rip the delicate fabric of the unity in Iraq's current government to pieces. Should political drama like this go unstopped, Iraq's government could slowly but surely make a shift, as one party could gain much more power and support, thus resulting in an Iranian-like government, or even a dictatorship.
Such a disaster would completely undermine nearly a decade's work, billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, and an incomprehensible amount of effort to bring Iraq to a safe and stable state.
While I applaud the fact that the U.S. is no longer in Iraq, this means Iraq will now have to essentially fend for itself with the tools and skills it has been left by the U.S.
I also believe that with the right amount of effort, and actions taken towards political unity, disregarding cultural differences could help strengthen the Iraqi government.
While America's physical presence in Iraq dwindles, America's "behind the curtain" efforts must not cease. Iraq has many steps to take before total success and unity is achieved, and with the recent political fallout, it seems that Iraq's future is very much uncertain.
Photo Credit: The U.S. Army