Exit Strategies

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Exit Strategies

Would Iran Take Over Iraq? Would Al-Qaeda? The Debate About How and When to Leave Centers on What Might Happen After the U.S. Goes.

By Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; Page A01

If U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future, three developments would be likely to unfold. Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province. Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups. And the Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there. In short, Iraq would effectively become three separate nations.

That was the conclusion reached in recent “war games” exercises conducted for the U.S. military by retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson. “I honestly don’t think it will be apocalyptic,” said Anderson, who has served in Iraq and now works for a major defense contractor. But “it will be ugly.”

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