Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

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Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby Amazonwarlord » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:02 pm

This is a serious question: You can make snide comments if you want cause it's a free country but that's not what I'm looking for.

Why not let it fragment into the 3 states ... Kurds to the N, Shia to the E and Suni to the W.

Some one on the radio said Americans don't understand sectarian violence. But we do if you say: Irish Cath and Irish Prot. Why not set each region up with their own democratic gov't?

Who here understand this region and can give a thoughtful answer?
"I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work." – Thomas Edison
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby Bauhaus » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:09 pm

Partintioning is certainly being discussed more and more. I personally believe it to be one of the only possible solutions.

Some issues though have to do with Bagdad, borders, resources, desposition of minorities particularly the different moslem groups, etc.
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -Thrax » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:25 pm

It's not nearly as simple as that. Turkey has huge stakes in the formation of a new Kurdistan -- in that they are terrified if it were to happen. And essentially, if Shia and Sunni were to split into different countries, it would likely precipitate another sectarian war. In many ways, the only thing keeping them from outright war in Iraq right now is that they are actually all nominally Iraqis. There are tensions right now testing those allegiances, but you bet your money that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would love to have the total sympathies of every Iraqi Shiite to facilitate his megalomania...

In essence, it would NOT be a good idea. At least not until Shia and Sunni stop fighting.

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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby Amazonwarlord » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:32 pm

from what I understand the sectarian violence un Saddam was minimal.
Some were saying that it has now escalated due to those who were at the top ruling over the majority are no longer doing so .. they are afraid of losing thier say and representation of their sect. They also are being retaliated against for years of oppression. Some were suggesting the factions may get along better if this was removed from equation some how. They did not say by giving each their own land and gov't.

It seems to me that the current "solution" is no solution and they should start talks NOW to set boundaries, and a treaty to allow people either to leave for their sects borders or stay in their homes with protection (though that seldom works really) and elections within each region. And the treaty should include a five year moritorium on agression between these new countries so they can stabilze. The treaty will also include a trade agreement between these new countries.

And this new plan can include the withdrawl of US troops starting 1 year after the signing of said treaty and elections in each country.

Is this stupid
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -Thrax » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:54 pm

The only reason sectarian violence under Saddam was minimal was that he, as a Sunni, kept the Shiite under violent repression. Not a living prison, per se, but the Shiite majority in the country (and they are the majority) had little voice when it came to government. What you're seeing in Iraq now is in many ways a fairly predictable (if very sad) case of what happens in a power vaccuum, including reprisals by the Shiite against the Sunni for years of not having any power or voice. On their part, many Sunni enter into violent groups because of Shiite reprisals (the "Death Squads"), creating a tit-for-tat circle that is pretty predictable in its manifestation. Also, many of the former Sunni regime lead insurgent groups because of a desire to reclaim power once again.

Creating new boundaries would do little to quell the violence, since the conflict is now (and in many ways always has been) one of ethnicity and religion. As the many wars in the region confirm, the creation of countries based on these qualities only leads to international wars, rather than civil ones.

EDIT: The other issue with redefining borders is that the Shiite East has many sympathies with Iran, and there has always been talk of that part of the country splitting off and joining Iran. Nobody -- I mean NOBODY -- wants this. At least under the current Iranian regime.

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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby mauleed » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:05 pm

Let them fight it out and make peace with the winners.

Or just bomb them some more.

Either works fine.
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -Thrax » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:16 pm

Freak. :smokin

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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -Papa Gino » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:17 pm

Multi-part answer.

1. Resources. They are not equally distributed.

Most of the oil is either in the north or in the south (at least the oil that has actually been discovered - as opposed to the oil many U.S.-based industry analysts think might still be found), and as such, splitting off the central & west region will necessitate either dotations from the north/south (wherein the north/south would complain), or else escalating poverty and expansionism of the west/center.

Compare with an integrated country where all revenues flowed to the center and then were reallocated to the regions. Of course, with Saddam in the center the Sunnis had more than their share, but this basically depends on who is placed in charge.

Separately, there is the question of water. The north and center are more advantaged than the south in this regard, which presents another economic reason for a rather sharp conclict.

2. This conflict being a fully-fledged civil war.

Understand, Sunnis and Shias don't like each other, and neither like the Kurds much (especially now that the main Kurdish parties are reportedly working with Mossad - at least, according to Seymour Hersh's sources). By "don't like", I mean both in general (i.e. since the dawn of the Middle Ages, with centuries of mutual hatred, repression, atrocities, etc. etc.), and specifically in Iraq, which is the only Arab nation in my recollection with a huge Shia contingent. [Iranians are technically Persians, not Arabs - hence, the Iran-Iraq war was also fought along ethnic lines.] Both sides still remember Saddam's times, when as recently as 1993 both the Sunni and the Shia spent some weeks engaged in open genocide against one another (first the Shia, at Bush 1's encouragement, ran wild - killing, torturing, raping, etc. - through the southern provinces, then, when the U.S. refused to support them, the Sunni army units "suppressed" - read: murdered, tortured and raped - the rebels and many, many of their friends and relatives; note the similarity in the two sides' approach to the problem).

Comparing the level of violence in these sectarian squabbles with Northern Ireland conflict doesn't really work. The IRA of the last couple of decades, for example, didn't have as its goal the eradication of every single Protestant in Belfast - it had become a much more political issue. This is much closer to the Bosnia/Croatia/Serbia mess, except _that_ never really got into the full swing of things (partly due to the U.S. and NATO), which means that "the horror of Srebrenica" and the like was only meant as a preview before the main event. Or to the tribalist insanity that goes on in Africa. Or to the Reformation/Counter-reformation wars that left most of modern-day Germany quite literally a desert.

By itself, the civil war issue seems avoidable - except for #1, and for the fact that the populations are not quite yet homogeneous (largely due to Saddam resettling many Sunnis in Shia and Kurdish areas). For instance, Baghdad remains a decidedly mixed city with large Sunni and Shia populations (i.e. how do you split Baghdad??).

Now, in Realpolitik terms, said civil war doesn't mean much per se - for instance, we couldn't care less if Savages A are killing Savages B in some remote corner of the world. However, with respect to Iraq we have two strategic imperatives. The first is to keep the oil flowing, and, moreover, to initiate new oil development projects (as I keep saying, oil industry trade journals still maintain that Iraq has vast undiscovered reserves which only private - Western - industry can find and extract), both of which are insanely difficult when the inhabitants of said place are having heated discussions using RPGs and worse. Logistical and political headaches, increased casualties, supply and oil flow disruptions, inability to get any new development done, etc.

The second imperative is that we had gone into Iraq not just to get at the oil, but also to establish a regional power base beyond the ever-unstable and whiny Saudi Arabia and its allies. For this, we need a friendly client state (or multiple states, as the case may be). Yet widespread factional warfare, especially when scarce resources are involved, typically ends with one or a couple of factions, usually backed by someone on the "outside", assuming total control. In Afghanistan, it was the Taliban acting with tactical and logistical support from Pakistan's ISI, and, probably, some tacit acknowledgement from the CIA (pre-911, of course). The current Somalia mess is a fight between Islamist-backed and CIA-supplied militias (with oil, naturally, being the prize - as it was in 1992-1993). In the case of Iraq, dollars to dimes one of said factions if not _the_ faction would be one of the more radical Shia parties (at least in the south/central regions) under Iran's auspices, which would make the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and the like - plus the Israelis - very nervous (Allah forbid we ever make the Israelis nervous...), as well as give our Great Enemy, Iran, a meaningful power base, and, for the first time in many decades, establish a single broad regional power. [Something that Britain had taken great pains to avoid, for example, by creating Iraq, Syria, Arabia, etc. in the first place. The Brit imperialists were bastards, but they weren't all dumb.] In many ways, we're already halfway there, but a civil war would probably get us all the way there.

And the fun thing is that even if the U.S. wasn't there, #1 and #2 would still take place. You'd basically wind up betting that whatever strongman or strongmen emerge would be (or could become) friendly to American and Western interests, which is far from a given (especially given how the U.S. typically conducts itself on the international arena). From the standpoint of, say, France, it's a win-win bet, since you can deal with anyone. From the standpoint of the U.S., well...

Of course, excluding Realpolitik considerations, you're basically talking about potential genocide. Partly resource- and partly ethno-religion-driven.

3. Even if there were not a civil war, the logistical and political difficulties of keeping 3 disparate regions under control (i.e. fulfilling American strategic imperatives) would be substantially greater than if we had some strongman run a centralized state. You'd have one rather than three client governments to cajole and intimidate, potentially more external entities causing you headaches (whereas a single, centralized state could potentially put the kibosh on at least some external influence, as Saddam had regularly done with respect to the Kurds and the Shia), multiple "national" borders and rights of passage to negotiate whilst supplying your occupation troops, multiple oil concession and transport proceedings, etc. etc. From the standpoint of "humanism", we get back to #1 - only an utter idealist would believe that, even absent civil war, such a partition would not reduce at least the central/western regions to comparative penury, certainly over time. Human politics doesn't quite work that way. So at best you have a prolonged economic aid problem and much whining to deal with. At worst, slow extermination and eventual social radicalization (aimed at the wealthier neighbors), a la what the U.S. had been trying to North Korea for some time now.

4. The question of the Kurds. Understand, the Turkish state remains highly susceptible to some general standing up and saying - "all right, we're now going to run things for a while". And the Turkish generals emphatically dislike the prospect of the Kurdish minority a) gaining legitimacy via an independend Iraqi Kurdish state, and b) using the territory of said state as a safe haven from whence to make Turkey's life rather unpleasant. [By "emphatically dislike", I mean - fully prepared to commit genocide if necessary.] At the same time, they have vastly fewer issues with an "autonomous" Kurdistan that is still nominally a part of a greater Iraq. See the U.S. treatment of China/Taiwan as another example of such nuance (i.e. so long as Taiwan doesn't technically become recognized as an independent nation, China allows its de-facto independence to continue).

The Iranians also don't like the concept of independent Kurdistan, by the way. Generally speaking it's anyone's guess whether an independent Kurdistan is a good thing - some level of centralization is necessary to maintain a reasonably healthy (if not outright powerful) state, whereas Balkanization (forced or otherwise) had always been accompanied with poverty and bloodshed. [In other words, is it really a good thing to split Iran and Turkey, or is it better to give the Kurds there some autonomy but as part of an integrated state?]


So, basically a three-way partition sucks from the American standpoint, more or less; and it won't be pretty from the "humanist" standpoint, especially if certain things (like Turkey getting involved) take place. Beyond that, a partition is absolutely wonderful.

On a side note, it seems that a meaningful section of the establishment (apparently led by Jim Baker) is now in favour of dissolving or "reforming" the current Iraqi government and installing a (preferably Sunni) strongman to put the place in order. In other words, we got rid of Saddam to put another Saddam in his place - which, from a Realpolitik perspective, is actually one of the very few viable solutions to the current problem. Of course, this would likely precipitate much violence, as well as require actually talking to guys like Syria. As such, the Administration a) seems to like the "strongman" bit but b) seems to hate the things necessary to make it work, which inescapably leads us to c) the probability that they screw this up a la Ngo Dinh Diem - or decide that the option _must_ be accompanied by regime change in Iran and/or Syria - increases exponentially.
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -NightGoblinHordeLeader » Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:46 pm

Iraq has a long history of being a strong state in the region.

More importantly it has long been a counter-balance to Iran.

Despite some misconceptions, Iran and Iraq have a long and bitter opposition to one another.

It may be in the United States's best interest to keep Iraq as a counter-balance to Iran.
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Re: Serious question - Why just 1 Iraq?

Postby -The Fabulous Orcboy » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:15 am


Gino laid it all out.

I'm thinking what probably will happen is something along the lines of what Ed suggested: containment of the situation within the Iraqi borders, with direct Jordanian and Turkish and Saudi aid, and indirect Iranian and Syrian assistance. Probably a lot of money spent to help refugees resettle (and to pay off neighbors who will otherwise be unhappy at the refugee problem). Then, after the Shiites (probably) beat the living snot out of the Sunnis, a new extremely repressive and conservative Shiite majority (with rump Kurdish autonomous zone) that is, at best, somewhat chilly in its relationships with the US thereafter, and somewhat closer to Iran.

Clearly, from the 2002 perspective, this is an extremely sub-optimal solution. It destroys US prestige, strains relationships with allies in the region, eliminates possibly the biggest counter to Iranian power in the Middle East and turns it into a likely Iranian ally, and costs the US untold billions even AFTER the war costs are calculated.

But from a 2006 perspective, it may be the best choice among a whole slew that range from "cr@ppy" to "oh-my-god-you-don't-want-this kind of Bad"
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