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March 5th, 2010
10:52 PM ET

Iraq's big test could reshape Middle East

Election posters, like these in central Baghdad, are plentiful as the voting nears.

Election posters, like these in central Baghdad, are plentiful as the voting nears.

Fareed Zakaria | BIO
CNN Anchor, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS”

This weekend's Iraqi election is testing the strength of the nation's young democracy and could be a turning point in the history of the Middle East, says analyst Fareed Zakaria.

In the March 7 election, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition in the Iraqi parliament is seeking to win enough votes to keep him in office for another term. On Thursday, a series of insurgent attacks led to the deaths of 29 people in the city of Baquba.

Zakaria said the election could have a lasting impact: "It might be the turning point in the rise of Iraq in the Middle East. Iraq is one of the largest, most important countries in the Arab world. It has the third or fourth largest petroleum reserves in the world. Even now it has $40 billion in oil revenues every year; it has a well-trained army thanks to the Americans.

"It is perhaps the beginning of a return to prominence in the Middle East. It is possible that 10 years from now we'll look back and say, while everyone was obsessing about the rise of Iran, the real story in the Middle East in these years was the rise of Iraq."

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Filed under: Arab Affairs • Fareed Zakaria • Iraq
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