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Crucial Elections in Iraq

Election campaign posters are seen along a street in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, March. 1, 2010. Iraq's national election is set for March 7. (AP)

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National polling Sunday in Iraq — just the second vote for a regular parliament since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The stakes are huge for Iraqis — whether the country hangs together in a stable democracy or slides back into chaos. And for the United States — President Obama has promised all combat troops out by September 1 this year.

If Iraq goes up in flames after the election, that promise gets a lot harder to keep. There’s been a spate of bombings already. Iran and other neighbors are leaning in.

This hour, On Point: A crucial vote — and a big test for Iraq and the American exit.

Guests:

From Baghdad we’re joined by Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq since April 2009. Prior to his posting in Baghdad, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Also from Baghdad, we’re joined by Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and its At War blog. He’s reported recently on the election run-up in Nasiriya. His essay “The Long, Long Shadow of Early Missteps in Iraq” appeared on Feb. 19.

And from Cambridge, MA we’re joined by Ali A. Allawi, former Iraqi Minister of Trade (2003-2004), Defense (2004-2005), and Finance (2005-2006).  He’s author of “The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace” and “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization.”

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