What You Need to Know About Playing Iraq

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--The viability of the nation of Iraq, as it was created in the wake of World War I, is in serious doubt. Your primary focus must be finding a way, through judicious leveraging of regional and international support, and continuing efforts to manage domestic politics, to get all (or most) Iraqi stakeholders genuinely invested in keeping the nation together.

--You have to keep the Kurds in northern Iraq from actively resisting your efforts to hold Iraq together. Economically, the Kurds are thriving, as much of Iraq’s prodigious oil wealth is in the north, and the Kurds would ideally wish to have their own country.

--Your efforts to build a sense of nation will be dead in the water if you, as a Shi’ite, cannot persuade Iraqi Sunnis that they will be full partners in a new Iraq. Sunni areas lack the oil wealth present in the North and in the Shi’ite-dominated south, and Iraq’s Sunnis need an incentive to actively resist ISIL forces.

--You must walk a delicate balance, as there is tension among the nations that support you. Certainly the United States is invested in the existence of a cohesive nation of Iraq, but you need to play things carefully lest you be seen as America’s lapdog (there are also clear limits on what the Americans are willing to do). With your Shi’ite leadership (and a Shi’ite majority in Iraq), neighboring Iran is a heavily-invested supporter, but their support increases fear among Iraqi Sunnis that they will never gain real power. To be sure, the Saudis (and the Iranians) want to see you succeed in holding Iraq together--largely because the disintegration of Iraq threatens them--but their visions of an ideal Iraq look quite different, one from another.

--Amidst war, ethnic conflict, and political strife at home, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a significant concern of your government. You certainly advocate for an independent Palestinian nation, but you must temper your rhetoric a bit so as not to anger your American allies. Note that there are over 200,000 Jews of Iraqi descent in Israel, and the social marginalization of many Jews of Arab descent in Israel has some potential propaganda value for you to leverage.

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