Leaving Iraq in broken pieces
Maybe I'm wrong, but it's probably best to partition Iraq and leave
November 20, 2006
Iraq has been a closed issue for me for a while. I guess it's about the same for the US administration. I doubt they really believe that Iraq will become peaceful any time soon, and definitely not under US supervision, or occupation, as they say in the Muslim world.
They simply don't know how to exit. George Bush is going to be remembered not as a great leader, but rather as one of the worst ones, one who started an invasion and left, defeated, having done almost nothing, and having lost thousands of US service men and women, and tens of thousands wounded. That's beside tens of billions of dollars wasted.
Now it's easy to look and criticise. I myself had no idea about what was going to happen, and I was naive enough to wish for a democratic Iraq that could some day be a model for my own country, Iran. I see how wishful thinking it all was. However it's not the case that Iraqis are so wild and uncivilised that they cannot possibly have a democracy. It's just a mixture of so many misfortunes for an unfortunate nation. It's just a combination of sad mishaps for a country so close and so similar to our own.
No matter how much many Iranians loath the Arabs, Iraqi Shia Arabs are some of the very few peoples closest to Iranians. Iraqis have been unfortunate enough to be given (by the British) a country that was not a country from the beginning, with no clear ethnic or religious majority, with deep differences among various groups and tribes. The emergence of a madman such as Saddam to side with the Sunni Arabs and strongly discriminate against the rest was another mishap for Iraq. That created deep emotional scars for the Shia Arabs and the Kurds. And the last unfortunate touch for the Iraqi people came with the emergence of foreign sponsored Islamic fundamentalism.
What is to do now with the current situation? There are two ways to deal with the current situation, one to partition Iraq into Kurdish, Sunni and Shia territories and give each to a local strongman, and the other solution is to leave and watch from distance what will happen. In the latter case it is very probable to have an all-out civil war in which the Shia, sponsored by Iran, will fight and win, against the Sunni, sponsored by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. And the Kurds will also make use of the chaos and take over some lost land from the Sunni. The possibility of a large-scale Sunni ethnic cleansing and murder looms in this case.
Partitioning Iraq though would make Iran, Turkey and Syria very angry for one very simple reason, the Kurdish problem. The creation of a Kurdish independent state would mean a nightmare for the three neighbouring countries, though largely out of paranoia. What could an independent Kurdish state do anyway? An independent Kurdish state would be seriously fearful of Iran and Turkey and would never undermine their territorial integrity. An independent Kurdish state would never be so unwise to sponsor or harbour separatist Kurds from Iran or Turkey, because it would risk invasion.
Maybe I'm wrong, but it's probably best to partition Iraq and leave. This is easier said than done. Shias, Sunnis and Kurds have so many claims over each others' lands that they would need s country double the size of Iraq to have them all satisfied. And what about those areas that have oil? If the Sunnis don't get any oil they will be deeply unhappy. But, then, so what? That's life. Turkey doesn't have oil and is doing much better than the oil -ich Iran. Iraq itself has so much oil and it's doing much worse than Jordan, which is a rather poor country, with so many problems and so little resources and possibilities.
A partitioned Iraq may also get some semi-democracies. But Iraq as it stands now is going nowhere and a united Iraq will never be a united Switzerland, but rather a united Yugoslavia, where old grudges will accumulate and burst sooner or later. And it's not really worth it to replace Sunni bullies with Shia bullies and repeat the same mistake again. Comment