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.
The U.S. already destroyed the political, economic and social infrastructure of Iraq, turning it into an anarchic free-for-all of every clan for itself. We in the West try to deny the ugly consequences of our own actions by shrugging our shoulders and noting that Iraqis are, after all, "eternally tribal." But who do you turn to when the proverbial excrement--the destruction of your country--hits the fan? Most people revert to their core social identities--their clans, tribes, sectarian or regional groups--the only ones that can provide security against anarchy and enemies.
Political differences need to be resolved through an inclusive process within Iraq with the active support of regional players. Neither the region nor the world can afford to underestimate how dangerous the present situation in Iraq has become, virtually overnight, and how vital it is to contain and reverse this threat.