05 January 2007

Iraq Question

Can anyone tell me whose interests are served by keeping Iraq as a united country? I'm afraid the answer is the US, not the Iraqi's...

As I understand it, modern Iraq is essentially an artificial state, created in the aftermath of WWI. You don't need to pay much attention to the news to know that the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis don't like each other very much. I wonder if they might get along better if they each had their own places.

The Kurds basically have a semi-autonomous state already. I realize Turkey might get nervous about an independent Kurdish state on their border, since Turkey currently contains what is arguably Kurdish land.

The Sunni - Shiite balance of power in the region would no doubt be changed if Iraq split into a Sunni state and a Shiite state... somebody would end up allied with Iran, no doubt. Would that be worse (for the US) than what's happening now?

Of course, the big question is how to split the oil revenues. That's the question now, and that would be the question if Iraq became 2 or 3 new countries.

It's all quite messy, to be sure, and it's hard to predict exactly what would happen if they were allowed to split up. Ultimately, it's really too bad so many people in Iraq would rather blow each other up than co-exist. Maybe it's time to send them to their own corners, to cool off a bit. They could leave the reunification option open for the future, but it seems like it might be a bit premature to do it now.

But as I said, figuring out how to share all that oil would be difficult...


Rawaz said...

As a Kurd , I welcome what you are suggesting.
However, there lies a bigger problem with the split up which you haven't touched upon and thats the arab world. Until lately ,2003, only Iran and Turkey were thought to be the major obstacles against that process. But now however, many arab states take a strong stand against the split too. Its either due to public pressure from their residents 'as many arabs consider Iraq as a part of the bigger Arab World' or due to fear from shiite state.

Dan said...

Thanks for the comment, rawaz! I didn't realize I had any Kurdish readers - that's really cool.

I'm sure you're correct that much of the Arab world would like to see Iraq remain a single state - for their own reasons and purposes.

I wonder what sort of conclusions we'd all arrive at if we (the US, the Arab World, the international community, etc) paid a little attention to the actual interests of the people of Iraq...

Dick Field said...

Iraq is yet another contrived state, previously having maintained its physical and political integrity through the force of authoritarian rule, nothwithstanding a significantly diverse and inherently conflicted ethnic make-up. These date back to the ancient empires, with modern examples including Yugoslavia (a former country with which I have some familiarity through marriage) and the Stalin-era designed "republics" of Central Asia (which will soon be ripe for strife as their old school communist leadership dies off).

When the dominant central authority disappears, fragmentation is inevitable, usually accompanied by conflict in varying degrees. After the bloodletting, future alignments will then be driven by economic interest (see Slovenia, prosperous and "Western" as the first new East Europe EU member to qualify for use of the euro).

We Americans have difficulty in conceiving of a world outside our borders where the melting pot does not exist and non-indigenous democratic ideals are irrelevant in nation formation or dissolution [anybody remember Vietnam? (my war) --apparently not enough]. Since we do not believe in in the application of truly brutal force (notwithstanding the allegations of the American Left), we are horrible at nation building where disparate interests are at stake. I am reminded of the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" in which Lawrence is attempting to get the Arab tribes gathered chaotically in a large meeting room to cooperate so as to run the water works and power plants. As I recall, only when he fires his revolver in the air is he given attention.

Just a matter of time in Iraq, folks, for the inevitable breakup to occur. Meanwhile, surrounding authoritarian powers are calulating just how big a piece of the carcass they stand to gain.