The most revealing aspect of the much anticipated recent Petraeus/Crocker report on Iraq and the follow-up Bush speech received little or no coverage and discussion from the U.S. and Western media. No one has mentioned the message between the lines and the obvious intent behind the new strategy in Iraq; the fact that the United States has decided to break up Iraq along secterian and ethnic fault lines!
Given the paralysis of the central government in Baghdad and the rampant growth of secterian violence, the new so called 'bottom-up reconciliation' strategy was understandably one of the few remaining options for the way forward in Iraq. But it also spells the beginning of the end for a country named Iraq. It will further weaken the Baghdad government and push the local powers and entities towards break-up from the central govenment.
It is now painfully obvious that U.S. administration has given up on any chance of the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds ever burrying the hatchet(s) and settling in peace under the unbrella of one country (Iraq).
Sadly, this may be the only viable way forward. Just as it was the case in the Balkans, the roots of hatred and mistrust go too deep to ever be resolved peacefully. This is not, however, a new option for Iraq. Many politicians, generals and pondits, including the Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, have advocated the "partitioning" of Iraq along the secterian and ethnic lines. Most of the official references to this solution, advocate a "soft partitioning" or a "federal system" with a weak central government. But what they mean to say and what will work in the current situation is a final and decisive break up of the country named Iraq.
Make no mistake, the break up and partitioning of Iraq will be painful and bloody. Fanilies will be split across the dividing lines. There will be fighting for the final border lines as it relates to the natural resources and strategic access ways. There will even be power struggles and infighting within the partitions. This has already begun among the Shiite groups in the south. They know the partition is coming and they are already jockying for control.
What remains unknown is the reactions and involvement from Iraq's neighbors. Turkey and Iran have long been concerned with regard to the break-up of Iraq. Turkey has been dead against the independence of the Kurds in Northern Iraq. But I suspect, with the political and social maturity that Turkish government and people demonstrated in their recent elections, it is possible that we'll see a cooperative Turkey. Iran's re-action would also be key.
But Iran will also benefit from the partitioning in some ways. Iran has concerns similar to those of Turkey about an independent Kurdish state but also will gain by having an all Shiite state on her borders in the oil rich southern region of Iraq. But I believe that Americans would not have begun on this break-up path if arrangements had not already been made with Turkey and Iran.
This will be a sad occasion, not because it will be the end of Iraq. Iraq was after all a made up country. It was glued together by the British at the end of World War I and through the decades only brutal dictators could keep it all together. It is now being broken up and destroyed by the American occupiers.
If the pieces of former Iraq settle in relative peace and if the killings end, then the world will be okay with the new arrangements. But the pain and anguish that the breakup will bring to the people of Iraq will continue for generations, as it has for the civilians who fell on different sides of the lines that divided Germany, Korea and other a few other countries in the last century!
At the end, the war that George W. Bush was dupped into beginning to bring democracy and prosperity to Iraq and the region, is going to destroy Iraq and result in 3 smaller countries with possibly 3 new dictatorships in the region that will offer nothing resembling democracy or prosperity for generations.
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