Thursday, December 08, 2005

Atlantic Monthly acknowledges that Balkanization of Iraq must occur 

As argued here on The Bite for many months, the path forward in Iraq involves Balkanization:

The Atlantic Monthly December 2005
With Permission from The Atlantic Monthly Group. Copyright 2005.
If America Left Iraq by Nir Rosen

This is a great article, and feel free to read its entirety elsewhere...the first paragraph (here) sets the tone:

At some point—whether sooner or later—U.S. troops will leave Iraq. I have spent much of the occupation reporting from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere in the country, and I can tell you that a growing majority of Iraqis would like it to be sooner. As the occupation wears on, more and more Iraqis chafe at its failure to provide stability or even electricity, and they have grown to hate the explosions, gunfire, and constant war, and also the daily annoyances: having to wait hours in traffic because the Americans have closed off half the city; having to sit in that traffic behind a U.S. military vehicle pointing its weapons at them; having to endure constant searches and arrests. Before the January 30 elections this year the Association of Muslim Scholars—Iraq's most important Sunni Arab body, and one closely tied to the indigenous majority of the insurgency—called for a commitment to a timely U.S. withdrawal as a condition for its participation in the vote. (In exchange the association promised to rein in the resistance.) It's not just Sunnis who have demanded a withdrawal: the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is immensely popular among the young and the poor, has made a similar demand. So has the mainstream leader of the Shiites' Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who made his first call for U.S. withdrawal as early as April 23, 2003.

The article sums up a lot that readers of TheBite will already know. But I was encouraged to finally see it acknowledged that Iraq will split into at least two countries in the future (whether one likes it or not):

What about the Kurds? Won't they secede if the United States leaves?
Yes, but that's going to happen anyway. All Iraqi Kurds want an independent Kurdistan. They do not feel Iraqi. They've effectively had more than a decade of autonomy, thanks to the UN-imposed no-fly zone; they want nothing to do with the chaos that is Iraq. Kurdish independence is inevitable—and positive. (Few peoples on earth deserve a state more than the Kurds.) For the moment the Kurdish government in the north is officially participating in the federalist plan—but the Kurds are preparing for secession. They have their own troops, the peshmerga, thought to contain 50,000 to 100,000 fighters. They essentially control the oil city of Kirkuk. They also happen to be the most America-loving people I have ever met; their leaders openly seek to become, like Israel, a proxy for American interests. If what the United States wants is long-term bases in the region, the Kurds are its partners.

So why isn't the US policy framed around this? Why can't anyone in our government acknowledge the need for fragmentation of Iraq into, at minimum, a Kurdish state and an Iraqi state? The latter probably needs to become two states, as well, at least short-term. Whether they wish to remain a rump Iraq or a new Shiite and Sunni state time will tell. But the only way to dampen the violence there immediately is to take away the impetus for (a) anti-US fighting [support our troops--get 'em out!] and (b) intra-Islamic fighting.

I do not like Nationalism, but it certainly beats Civil War.


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