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Thread: The argument to partition Iraq

  1. #21
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Baghdad is currently self partitioning. Perhaps it could be an independent free city under international administration. Mosul is actually more of a problem than Kirkuk. If there was a program to share oil revenues, who actually administers Kirkuk becomes fairly unimportant. I think they US would have to retain a major presence in Kurdistan, particularly along its borders. Other pipelines could be built. Iraq's access to the sea is pretty limited anyway. This really struck me while standing on the docks at Um Qasr in 2003.

    I see Steve as closest to the mark with the point that Baghdad has self-partioned. That was our assessment on 1990: that a fragmented Iraq was the most likely outcome of any march on Baghdad. I feared as much in 2003 and said so. Now I would say to you is that it matters not what we as Western outsiders want to happen. What does matter is what the "Iraqis" want to happen. In the circumstances of today, inaction on their part is action, meaning that a neutral stance toward survival of the state is not really neutral. It is pro-fragmentation. I also see culture playing a strong role in that regard; Arab and Muslim cultures are fatalistic in accepting what happens as fate. The tendency to talk about about as it happens versus actively influence what does happen is strong. None of this in any case implies a nice, neat solution--which is where I see the proponents of partition going astray. It has not been pretty so far and it is not likely to get in prettier in the near to mid-term.

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    Tom

  2. #22
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I see Steve as closest to the mark with the point that Baghdad has self-partioned. That was our assessment on 1990: that a fragmented Iraq was the most likely outcome of any march on Baghdad. I feared as much in 2003 and said so. Now I would say to you is that it matters not what we as Western outsiders want to happen. What does matter is what the "Iraqis" want to happen. In the circumstances of today, inaction on their part is action, meaning that a neutral stance toward survival of the state is not really neutral. It is pro-fragmentation. I also see culture playing a strong role in that regard; Arab and Muslim cultures are fatalistic in accepting what happens as fate. The tendency to talk about about as it happens versus actively influence what does happen is strong. None of this in any case implies a nice, neat solution--which is where I see the proponents of partition going astray. It has not been pretty so far and it is not likely to get in prettier in the near to mid-term.

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    Tom
    I think we need to get on board and support the idea of reestablishing the "caliphate." But we need to tell the militants that it will not be the Abbasid one, but the more historically terminous one: the Ottoman caliphate. Then let them chew on that.

  3. #23
    Council Member ali_ababa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Reasonable in a perfect world where one is free to draw new lines on maps without care for the people or the politics on the ground.

    Sorry this is more of Ralph Peter's semi-polyannish behavior played out; what looks like a deft solution is only more crap sown on the same old fields. The Brits were quite good at drawing maps, followed closely by the other colonial powers. You might as well refer to this map as "Peter's Hiccup" as the 90 degree bend in Jordan's current border is referred to as "Winston's Hiccup."

    The US Sec Def had to apologize to the Turks because Peters pulled this map out at a US govenrnment sponsored speaking engagement at the NATO defense college since Peters was essentially saying that the Yurks should give into the PKK.

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    Tom
    The British and French after WW1 simply got 'mandates' over the middle east after the ottoman empire was defeated and drew the borders as they wished.
    When the borders were drawn no thought went into the people living within the regions. Iraq was drawn up to include the three main oil producing areas which were Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Also Kuwait was not included in the Basra province as it was before since the British had signed a contract for protection with the ruling Al-Sabah family in 1899.

    I remember reading in a book about the creation of Jordan and a quote Winston Churchill said - it went something like this: 'I came up with Jordan in one afternoon'.

    If the people were taken into account then the Kurdish people would have been given a state instead of being the largest group of stateless people in the world suffering prejudice from Syria, Iran and Turkey (Also Iraq during previous governments).

    This map i believe would stop all fighting as every person would be within their own sect meaning there are no excuses to cause trouble. However the ethnic minorities is a problem which would be more difficult to deal with.

    If the map did go through as proposed the largest oil producing countries would be the Arab Shia State and Kurdistan - the two most opressed groups with their countries.

    Regards.
    Last edited by ali_ababa; 10-24-2007 at 08:47 PM.

  4. #24
    Council Member charter6's Avatar
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    Baghdad being self-partitioned doesn't change the issue. You can't allocate non-continguous neighborhoods to two neighboring states likely to be rivals, so that's out. The idea of making Baghdad a self-governing city state doesn't solve the issue -- you're still left with a huge population of angry Shia who are being cut off from the state they'd identify with. al-Sadr, or any Shia leader in Baghdad for that matter, will not allow his constituency to be cut off from the financial support provided by pilgrim revenue in Najaf and Karbala. After oil, this is probably the single biggest economic factor at work in Iraq. That's why Hakim's proposed 9 province Shia equivalent to Kurdistan didn't gain traction beyond the SCIRI leadership -- he wanted to go as far north as Najaf and Karbala, and other Shia leaders saw this as a blatant power-play on the Badr's part for the pilgrimage revenue.

    The issue I was trying to get at was that either you take the Shia state so far north to include Karbala and Najaf, sticking a huge Sunni population in Shia-land and leaving Sunni-land with wonky, narrow borders; or you don't and leave a huge Shia population and Shia Islam's traditional cultural center of gravity in Sunni-land -- a situation likely to be unacceptable. Either way, it's unworkable.

    Kirkuk becomes a much bigger issue if we partition. Right now, there seems to be general acceptance on both sides of the fact that oil revenue will somehow be partitioned, some Kurds are going to come back but not all, etc. Everyone sort of figures there will be a relatively amiable compromise down the road. If you partition, then suddenly there are no such assurances. Kirkuk will have to fall on one side of the line or the other -- when you place it, you give that state ultimate control over the oil regardless of written agreements or anything of the sort. It's a flashpoint, and it seems un-resolvable.

    Ali, the Peters map is unworkable. Just to start, the day the Turks give up Dyarbakir is the day I voluntarily join the Eunuch corps -- pretty confident I'll be keeping my balls.

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    26 Oct 07 update of the CSIS report originally posted near the beginning of this thread:

    Pandora’s Box: Iraqi Federalism, Separatism, “Hard” Partitioning and US Policy
    The attached report provides a major revision of the previous draft report on the prospects for federalism, separation, and partition in Iraq, and is virtually a new document. It has no simple bottom line, and all of the options present agonizing trade-offs and are almost certain to resul in some degree of added separation and displacement.

    At the same time, the analysis indicates that the vast majority of Iraqis -- other than Kurds – do not want a weak central government or any form of division of the country. It shows that violence is serious in the areas dominated by the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’ite as well as in mixed areas, and that any form of federalism or partition that divided Iraq’s economy, infrastructure, and petroleum sector would be almost impossible to achieve on anything close to an equitable basis or using Iraq’s present governorates and divisions by sect and ethnicity.....

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    Foreign Service Journal, Mar 08: After the Surge: Toward an 18-State Federation
    ....We should not perpetuate the fiction that there are military, regional or economic solutions to a problem that is fundamentally one of internal Iraqi political structure and identification. Nor should we assume that an Iraq consisting of a Shiite-dominated core with a semi-independent Kurdistan and a marginalized Sunnistan will eventually be stable. The current political program for Iraq is to attempt to garner concessions from the Shiite government on behalf of Sunnis. The very nature of this process perpetuates and hardens the ethnic divisions that are at the heart of the dysfunction in the Iraqi state.

    The only viable prospect for a unified and stable Iraq at present is to change the political framework so that the basic organizing principle is 18-state federalism. Thisironically, is where Amb. Bremer was headed with his caucus system in the fall of 2003, before the plan was aborted. It is not clear whether it would have worked then, but it is doubtful that anything else will work now. The structure of the Iraqi state must change fundamentally in order to break up ethnicity as the country’s core organizing concept......

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    Default Debating Devolution in Iraq

    Reidar Visser, Debating Devolution in Iraq, Middle East Report Online,
    March 10, 2008

    Arguably, though, the greatest problem for the Iraqi centrists is what may be termed “Bush’s Biden policy.” While Washington speaks an admirable language of fidelity to strong central government, in practice it consistently extends material and moral support to the opposite camp, the ethno-federalists that share Biden’s vision for Iraq.

    ...

    Conversely, Washington maintains little or no contact with representatives of the centrist trend whose vision for the future is far more compatible with the long-standing stated objective of US policy: a unified, multi-ethnic Iraq.

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