Over at the Iraq the Model web site Mohammed has written an excellent report about Maliki's visit to Sistani to discuss the latest security and political developments in Iraq. Mohammed thinks this is a very bad move on Maliki's part.
The people remain the most important item in the equation as they are the ones who have the actual power to decide the long-term strategic choices with their votes.
In Iraq the experience with the rule of Islamists has certainly reduced the numbers of people who support the idea of Islamic rule and a there's a growing number of people who now began to question the idea about Islam being the solution.
So, there will be a great long battle between the two ideas; between Islamic rule and the separation between religion and the state--the current problem is that the people are divided into two, almost equal, groups in this respect. This means none of the two can prevail at this stage but at the same time the performance of the government made mostly of Islamists will no doubt lead to a steady decrease in its popularity.
Islamists have failed to offer a chance for a better life whether when they were in the opposition or when they got to rule the country. I think that's why they try to sell the idea of death instead of life; they failed to offer a better life so they picked up the slogan of death and "martyrdom" to promise a better life, but in an imaginary heaven; not in real life.
This strategy, in some time that cannot be specified right now, will mark the beginning of actual death but it will the death of political Islamist movements and maybe Iraq, the country where people have the right to make a choice, will become a grave for political Islam.
It will take more than one round of elections to declare them dead but I see that time is not on the Islamists' side.
The war is going to be long because it's a war of ideas—the conflict is not going to be a localized one and will have different forms because I believe the whole world is concerned and will take part in one way or another.
Identifying and supporting the true moderates would be a fair weapon to use in this war and I think American and the rest of the free world will keep trying to support positive reforms towards a better life to defeat the ideology of death.
I agree completely with Mohammed on his assessment of the war. I am encouraged by the progress in western Iraq where tribal sheikhs instead of Muslim clerics have led the charge against AQI. I am also encouraged by the Lebanese army progress in regaining control of their country from radical Islamists.
Too many people get too hung up on the Sunni and Shia divide amongst Muslims. It is a lot more complicated than that, but what I really think is that the more important divide is between people who want an improvement in their lives, and they do not buy in to the politics of some religious zealots that do not deliver for them.