The year ahead

From oil policy to politics to security, the events of a momentous 2010 have shaped the agenda for 2011. A briefing for the new year from Iraq Bureau Chief Ben Lando.
The new year brings new leadership of the Oil Ministry. Outgoing minister Hussein Shahristani (L) sits next to his successor Abdul Karim Luaibi during the official handing-over ceremony on December 27, 2010. (SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraq starts 2011 with a mountain of tasks no less steep than in previous years, but also with a fresh government and robust outlook for oil revenues. More than ever, the country has the potential to ease struggles faced by average Iraqis, balance competing political factions and win foreign investors.

To be sure, Iraq is a work in progress. Old infrastructure is failing to support the country’s rising ambitions, and basic services languish. The citizenry is frustrated, and the security environment is still worrisome. A tumultuous political process has yet to produce stable governance.

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