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How To Prevent Civil War In Iraq – Break The Country In Three

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Why hold on to a single Iraq when the country is splitting along sectarian lines?

Iraq is already broken in two. The Kurds are off on their own. They don’t allow any other militias except their own in their section of Iraq: no Iraqi police there. They have their own elections, democratic institutions, free media, secular society, and although still terribly tribal, they are really a model of what America wanted to do with Iraq. America helped them be what they’ve become even while Saddam was in power, by keeping the Kurds free from his influence when they established a no-fly no-intervention zone there.

So, we could get out of Iraq and point to the Kurds as a great American success. Jeez, they even love us, perhaps the only bunch besides the Israelis in the Middle East who do.

We might as well apply the same approach to the rest of Iraq: let them split the country between the Sunnis and the Shiites so they don’t have to fight each other. The only problem will be Baghdad, where there are Sunnis and Shiites stuck together in the same city, although they are fast settling down in separate areas, because you risk being killed if you are a Shiite in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood and vice versa.

But there is a precedent for this: the old Berlin when Germany was split in two. Baghdad could become the Berlin of two neighboring states, a place shared by Sunnis and Shiites, each with their own municipality, and each tied to a relationship with the two Iraqi Sunni and Shiite countries.

If we do allow Iraq to split in three, it will be a totally new thing that we can end up being very proud of, since we will be seen as redressing the ills of colonialism. After all, one of the terrible legacies of Western colonialism was that countries were arbitrarily made up, with borders established for Western convenience, which meant yanking different ethnicities together into single countries. Most of the problems in Africa are caused by this artificial creation of countries without regard to sectarian and tribal integrity.

This would be a great exit strategy and an easy salve for our own sense of achievement: we would’ve liberated three ethnicities instead of one country, and helped three new countries to democracy.

It would also be something those three countries, as well as the rest of the Middle East, might be able to thank us for.

We’d win the hearts and minds of three ethnicities instead of inducing another Arab country to hate us.

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About Adam Ash

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    This is the obvious solution and has been all along. The problem is that it is completely unacceptable to the Turks, who feel that a truly independent Kurdistan would be a threat to them and particularly to the Kurdish territory within their borders.

    The Turks have a lot of pull with the US and with NATO, and as one of the few halfway reasonable moslem states, so they get a certain amount of consideration. The question now is whether observing their sensibilities is worth the cost.

    IMO we should offer the Turks a big chunk of money to give up a portion of their Kurdish lands and relocate the rest of their Kurds to Kurdistan. It would be cheaper than fighting the war has been.

    Dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Finally some sense out of you, Adam! What took so long? Kol hakavód! All honor to you!

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Not only is it the OBVIOUS solution, it’s the ONLY viable solution. Fact is, officially or not, that kind of regional dominion is going to happen anyway. This way at least it’d be legitimate.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Given the current state of affairs, it is probable that this is where you will end up in 5 years time anyway…

    I agree with Dave’s point regarding Turkey – it is a problem but could be managed judiciously. You would also need to get the Kurds to renounce their claims to parts of adjacent Turkey (something they are loathe to do…).

    The other sticking point would probably be in two areas:

    1). Dividing the Shiite and Sunni regions effectively – they are a little more diversified and integrated – much moreso than the Kurdish regions – and divvying up the oil resources would be problematic at best, an escalating ongoing civil war at worst. Partitioning Baghdad would be a recipe for disaster. It has only ever worked in Berlin and there it worked only because the superpowers tacitly agreed to it and had the wherewithal to enforce it….

    2). Iran – Keeping the Shiite regions of the country from falling under full Iranian control and domination would be key. The largely Sunni population of the Gulf would be highly concerned at the effective expansion of Iranian and Shiite domination in the region and another fully Shiite, fundamentalist state popping up might cause serious regional instability.

  • Baronius

    Great ideas on paper usually don’t work in the Middle East. First of all, they don’t want to be separate countries. They’ve been united for a long time, despite their differences. And united, they share in oil profits. That’s a tough thing to walk away from. But what would happen if they did split?

    1) The Kurdish State would shake up Turkey. The US would pay off Turkey, but it wouldn’t matter. Within two years, the new government in Turkey would be more brutal than Assad, more religious than Saud, and probably directly aiding Chechnya.

    2) The Sunni State would be at war, with

    3) Iran’s new annexed territory. Formally annexed or not, I don’t know, but there’d be a lot of unmarked graveyards either way.

  • JP

    Dave, good point–here’s where I stand on this one though: We should break it into three and let the Middle East work it out. It’s not our problem.

  • pleasexcusetheinteruption12

    Wow Adam they should make you president!

    You seriously think you have solved all of Iraq’s problems sitting and thinking at your computer screen for half an hour? I mean come on, the situation is far more complex than just redivying up land in the country. And Baghdad is definately not the only ethnically mixed city or region in the country. You cant just redraw lines because you drew them wrong the first time. What happens when we find out some of the shiites dont like each other? Redraw those lines. Look what happened in Pakistan. “Oops we didnt realize you Hindus dont like them Muslims. Here lets just patch it all up and make a little box in the corner for the Muslims.” The shiites in the sunni country would start independence movements for their people and towns as would sunnis in the shiite country. And who gets control of the port Basrah where much of the oil is shipped out? Which coutntry is going to get stuck being landlocked? Which country is going to get control of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers? Do they have to share them? If so, how much water can the upstream country use for irrigation? What about in drought years, does it have to reduce its consumption of water? (Farmland covers nearly 10% of Iraq, and all of it requires irrigation). And who gets all the oil??? 59% of the oil is concentrated in the province of Basra, a largely Shiite region. Another large portion of the oil is in the largely Kurdish province of Krirkuk. Anbar province – the province containing the city of Fallujah and a large portion of the insurgency (the province is also largely sunni)- has virtually no oil reserves. The Sunni’s of Anbar province would certainly not be content to be landlocked, without oil reserves. The list of potential conflicts is endless. And where the hell would you draw the borders? If sunni’s, kurds, shiites and all the other ethnicities, religious sects and tribes of Iraq cannot get along now, then what makes you think that drawing some more lines on the map will stop the flow of violence? Drawing lines where none existed before isnt going to convince anyone to stay on their side of the line.

  • pleasexcusetheinteruption12

    Well what a little room of future Secretaries of State we have here. The whole concept of creating a state around a religion or ethnicity is flawed. You all seriously think the situation in Iraq will be any better if you just tweak the borders? That just gives them all one more thing to fight about.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Good and fairly valid points Peti.

    Please note that I didn’t say it would necessarily prevent a war or two and huge civil strife…The road to a division of Iraq would definitely be paved with a copious number of dead bodies. My point was that this is that this is a highly probable direction and is, to an extent, already underway as the Kurds are slowly developing autonomously as a governing body and the Sunni’s are isolating themselves from the current government.

    I don’t think you could successfully “impose” the solution, but it may fall out along ethnic lines anyway if you can’t begin to develop a more stable environment within Iraq very, very soon. Sectarian violence leads to population movements (i.e. refugees and ethnic “cleansing”) and encourages irredentism. It is notable that even Saddam couldn’t effectively control much of the Kurdish regions and actually reached tacit accomodations with some of the Kurdish leaders on governing the north in recent years…

    I stongly suspect that this tripartate division will not be imposed upon the Iraqis but rather be imposed on the Occupation if the sectarian strife continues to grow.

  • pleasexcusetheinteruption12

    Whether it is U.S. implimented, or is forced by the sectarian violence, a three way division is not going to calm any of the tensions causing the sectarian violence. The only reason I can possibly think of that would suggest a three country division of Iraq would improve the situation at all is that it might keep the different groups apart and stop them from fighting with each other. But as I pointed out above even that is not possible since Sunnis and Shiites are mixed. And havent we learned anything from Hezbollah and Israel? When two groups are at each other’s throats drawing more border lines doesnt stop them from fighting. If anything drawing borders just allows them to consolidate their forces and create a centralized form of government to fund their terrorist agenda. Dividing the country up doesnt cause any problems it just creates more (see post #7).

  • Bliffle

    Maybe dividing up Iraq would result in the Kurds, Sunnis and shiites warring constantly with each other, which is at least better than having them organized against us. So that would be an improvement. If their mad religious and cultural notions drive them to constant warfare, better against each other than against the rest of the world.

  • pleasexcusetheinteruption12

    No biffle- attacks on U.S. soldiers stop when U.S. soldiers leave. Dividing the country in three will not reduce the attacks on U.S. soldiers.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    PETI at #7

    You raise a number of legitimate points of contention. But the point here is that you cannot keep together what wasn’t meant to be together in the first place. A good negotiatior and contract lawyer (or teaqm of contract lawyers) can figure out the details of a “divorce” settlement in Mesopotamia, particularly the liquid ones.

    Meopotamia can remain united only under one condition – that there is a single united Arab kingdom stretching from the Jordan River to the mountains of Iran. This kingdom (with its capital in Mecca or Medina) has to include all of Arabia. Remember that the central Sunni district of Mespotamia can grow vegetables from which oil can be extracted to make bio-diesel fuel. In the end, bio-diesel fuel is far cheaper than petrol. They do not have to be stuck with “no” resources just because nobody figured this out yet.

  • http://www.nationalvanguard.com/ Richard Brodie

    The whole concept of creating a state around a religion or ethnicity is flawed.

    From “The Truth About Mexican Immigration”, a recent article on my URL site:

    The liberal, secular Enlightenment gave birth to the “proposition nation” – beloved by both Leftists and neoconservatives. According to the proposition nation, to be a citizen one only has to believe in a few propositions. For example, if one believes in a few abstract notions (e.g. the American flag is good, etc.) then he can have citizenship.

    Historically, this is a very radical concept, and a complete break from traditional Western Civilization, where kin and kith were integral to any understanding of a country. Prior to recent times, territories would be defined by a common history, clans, bloodlines, common genealogy, blood and soil, kin and kith. Thomas Jefferson, for example, thought that a nation without a common genealogy could not survive. Leftists and neoconservatives, however, want to stamp out all memory of traditional forms of association – and so far are succeeding.

    The time will come when “Break the Country in Three” will be the proper solution to the inevitable growing problems of racial resentment and strife in America, not just Iraq.

  • http://www.nationalvanguard.com/ Richard Brodie

    They do not have to be stuck with “no” resources just because nobody figured this out yet.

    If Iraqis were left alone to return to their cultural roots, rather than being subjected to American imperialism attempting to destroy their indigenous natural culture by imposing the alien notions democracy and consummerism on them, then they would not need to become just one more slave to big oil. They could return to a simpler, less hectic mode of existence more in line with their unique traditional lifestyle.

  • zingzing

    richard brodie: “The time will come when “Break the Country in Three” will be the proper solution to the inevitable growing problems of racial resentment and strife in America, not just Iraq.”

    three? on what lines? for what reasons? racial resentment? who? you?

    i would be rather pissed if several portions of my friends (wait, some of them are asian… which third do they belong to?) had to leave the country. actually, i would probably join any sort of resistence to such an idea. i wouldn’t rule out violence toward such a backwards, evil, mother fuckin stupid idea. christ. you need an enema.

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Yeah Zing, right after my plan to move Israel to the Texas New Mexico line takes place…

  • zingzing

    oooh. then the jews, mexicans and conservative texas folks can fight it out! of course, all the old people in new mexico will probably die… dead white folk, richard! DEAD WHITE FOLK.

  • pleasexcusetheinteruption12

    Everyone note, the rascist is the one defending the split the country in three on the grounds that three races cannot get along.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The time will come when “Break the Country in Three” will be the proper solution to the inevitable growing problems of racial resentment and strife in America, not just Iraq.

    But Richard, most of us don’t WANT to live in ethnically purified countries. For one thing the food and music would go down hill dramatically.

    Dave