May 10, 2003
The promotion of American values of freedom and pluralistic democracy
in Iraq requires an American model. The colonial manner by which
the US insists on approaching this issue, however, requires a colonial
The two exigencies put together lead to the conclusion that the
peaceful formation of a pluralistic democratic society in a federal
framework must begin with dividing Iraq into three anthropogeographically
distinct and politically independent entities. The differences and
distrust among the various factions presently competing for power
are simply too overwhelming to make any other approach destined
The Imamate of Basrah, composed of Basrah and the holy cities of
Najaf and Karbala, will be the domain of the Shi'ites who wish to
pursue an Islamic republic form of government.
The Republic of Kurdistan, composed of the northern section of
Iraq and inhabited predominantly by the Kurds, shall be ruled by
the Kurds, whose present factionalism and relative success with
self-government are suited to the creation of a multiparty system
The rest of Iraq's territory will comprise the domain of the Republic
of Baghdad, presumably to be ruled by the Sunni Arabs, who in the
majority are of secular disposition.
The economy of the Shi'ite state shall be based on oil and gas,
receipts from pilgrimage to the holy sites, and transit fees levied
on the trade that passes through the state. The oil and gas revenue
generated by the fields in Kurdistan will be supplemented with an
economy based on agriculture and husbandry. The economy of Baghdad
will be anchored by oil and gas, and provision of services and industry
to the other two states.
The people who wish to relocate to an area other than where they
inhabit presently should be given every opportunity to relocate.
This of course conjures the images of population exchanges experienced
in the Indian subcontinent prior to independence of India and Pakistan
in 1947. However, the relative internal peace and tranquility in
the two countries owes much to that tasteless migratory exercise.
If and when the need arises based on mutual advantage and coinciding
self-interests, very much like the American colonies, any two or
all three of the new Iraqi states will come together in a federal
system, forming, for example, a united states of Iraq.
In the minimum the scheme proposed here will ensure peace both
in the short term and long run in a country which has been victimized
in the course of its post-WWI history by violence born out of irreconcilable
religious and ethnic differences.
Guive Mirfendereski practices law in Massachusetts (JD, Boston
College Law School, 1988). His latest book is A
Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea: Treaties, Diaries, and Other
Stories (New York and London: Palgrave 2001)
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