For his first couple of years as Prime Minister of Iraq, the conventional wisdom held that Nouri al-Maliki was in over his head. Even people who supported the war tended to think that Maliki was the wrong person to lead the country.
I can’t say I ever formed a firm opinion about Maliki’s suitability for the office, but I certainly wanted him to succeed. I still do, which is why I was delighted this morning to see the nearby chart in the Wall Street Journal tracking Maliki’s approval rating in Iraq. Note the hockey-stick line at the bottom, showing dramatic increases in support from the Sunni minority for Maliki, a Shi’ite. Yes, it’s still only in the mid-30s, but that’s a long way up from zero. He achieved this in large part by cracking down on the Shi’ite militias in the southern part of the country.
Maliki comes to Washington this week to meet with Obama and administration officials. Among other things, he is seeking to encourage corporate investment in Iraq, along with educational and cultural ties. It’s refreshing to think about Iraq in other than military terms.
(Hat tip: Tigerhawk)