When the American military presence in Iraq ended in December 2011, Washington and Baghdad claimed that Iraq was a stable, sustainable democracy. However, this appears questionable as Nuri al-Maliki, prime minister since 2006, has continued his quest to dominate the state and to use its power to break opposition to his rule,  leaving the country vulnerable to heightened sectarian tension and a new civil war.

When the American military presence in Iraq ended in December 2011, Washington and Baghdad claimed that Iraq was a stable, sustainable democracy. However, this appears questionable as Nuri al-Maliki, prime minister since 2006, has continued his quest to dominate the state and to use its power to break opposition to his rule. His systematic exclusion of key politicians from power underlines the failure of the 2010 elections to deliver representative government, and leaves the country vulnerable to heightened sectarian tension and a new civil war.

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Balkan rumblings

Although rumours of war in the Balkans are overblown, the region has acquired greater strategic resonance recently, due mainly to Russia's intensifying interest and secondarily to jihadist activity.

What lies ahead for South Korea?

South Korea's new president faces stiff domestic challenges and is less inclined towards confrontation with North Korea than either his predecessor or the Trump administration.