Monday, October 09, 2006

Congressional committee to recommend partition

James Baker, co-chair of the commission, actually euphemizes "partition" by advocating a "division". Whatever. Importantly, Congress is finally coming to see the wisdom in Senator Biden and Leslie Gelb's argument (and one that Randall Parker has advocated since 2003) for the creation of three essentially independent states interconnected only by a weak national government charged with foreign relations and the equitable distribution of oil revenues:
The Baker commission has grown increasingly interested in the idea of splitting the Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions of Iraq as the only alternative to what Baker calls “cutting and running” or “staying the course”.
This option seems optimal to me for a couple of reasons. It will reduce the 'internecine' killings taking place between Sunni and Shia militia groups and official recognize the unofficial partitioning that is already taking place as Shia and Sunni leave cities where they are in the minority. More broadly, it will illustrate to leaders of other Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria how the introduction of democratic reforms threatens to break up their states into autonomous pieces. So they'll be less inclined to do so, meaning the Arab street, which is more dangerous to us both economically and in terms of security, will continue to be squelched by 'ironfists' with return addresses.

The biggest problem will be ensuring that the Sunnis in central Iraq get some cut of Iraq's oil revenue. But that's going to be a hurdle no matter what.

Our two most powerful leaders are finally considering options other than "staying the course":
Bush and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, have resisted the break-up of Iraq on the grounds that it could lead to more violence, but are thought to be reconsidering. “They have finally noticed that the country is being partitioned by civil war and ethnic cleansing is already a daily event,” said Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Better really really late than never, I suppose.



JSBolton said...

They might need four large sovereignties and several small walled urban ones. Boundaries should allow enough oil to support a Sunni state of Baghdad, Shia states of Mosul and Basra, and a Sunni walled sovereign city of part of Kirkuk and vicinity. Kurdistan would be sovereign and larger than today. Baghdad would need sovereign enclaves, without oil revenues, and all such enclaves would have dual citizenship with their affinity states, so that if the small states proved nonviable and liable to reabsorption to their surroundings, those who oppose that or can't live with it, have options. If near proportional allocation of oil lands requires that southern Iraq have a tentacle of the sunni state of Baghdad, reaching down to the border of Kuwait, then so be it. Then the US military just keeps the peace between the partitioned states, and intervenes against the worst atrocities of ethnic cleansing, as in the balkans. Iraq's preent government can't hold power without foreign support of considerable magnitude.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense as long as you don't completely demarcate the regions from each other. Primitive people like that can't seem to get along with outsiders, but only the Kurds seem to be in a position to govern themselves intelligently. The Kurds need the clout of "Iraq" to fend off Turkey and Iran. The Shias and Sunni need Iraq to keep from being absorbed by Iran and Syria respectively. They all need the fiction of the larger state, even though they can't get along with each other. It's not a slam dunk obvious solution, nothing is.