In recent years I have worked deeply on quiet conflict management interventions from Afghanistan to Iran, but mostly in Syria. I have watched the unnecessary suffering of countless people, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, the greatest civilian displacement in Middle Eastern history, and I have watched it up close through the lives of my students and friends.
The administration should think twice about sending arms to the government in Baghdad at a time when many of the weapons are likely to be used by Shiite factions to repress Sunnis in Baghdad and beyond. Unless the Shiite militias are brought under control, Obama's claim that there is an "inclusive government" in Baghdad will remain a fantasy.
With Nouri al-Maliki agreeing to step aside, Iraq may have passed its first hurdle on the way to forming the kind of government that will be needed to defeat the Islamic State (IS). Passing this hurdle may also serve to vindicate the cautious approach the Obama Administration has taken in addressing the IS crisis.