MOVING TOWARD DIVISION?
"If the notion of necessary existence is divided into a multitude, it must be divided in one of the following two ways: either it is divided according to the manner of its division by differentiae or according to the manner of its division by accident." ~ Avicenna.
It seems like everything blogged about South Kurdistan/Iraq in the last week or so has focused on two subjects. The first is the dawning reality of the possibility that Iraq is fracturing, and the second is Michael Totten's reports from South Kurdistan about South Kurdistan.
The bombing of the Askeriye mosque in Samarra was the event that knocked Humpty Dumpty off the wall and the aftermath is that all the rest of the world is now figuring out that Humpty Dumpty can't be put together again so easily. Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes tries to mumble his way to reality by asking "The Big Question," via Voxefx. What is "The Big Question?" It is this: "Was Iraq the way Iraq was because Saddam was the way Saddam was, or was Saddam the way Saddam was because Iraq was the way Iraq was - a country congenitally divided among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds that can be held together only by an iron fist."
Old Thomas doesn't really care, though, because he never answers his own question. Instead, he uses the space created by his question to drone on and on about US efforts in Iraq. I am not without criticisms of my own on this subject and I tend to agree with the testimony Ambassador Peter Galbraith gave to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee back in June, 2003.
It seems that Friedman wants to try to pin the blame on the lack of US troops giving rise to "militias," in an Iraqi homegrown attempt to provide local security to the population. In doing this, he makes mention of Lebanese militias and quotes Khalilzad in support. But what is is the nature of Iraq as a forced political entity? Friedman is still stuck on the American version of how Iraq should be, one entity in support of the regional status quo, ruled by a strong, centralized government, instead of seeing it as it might become.
Everyone should notice that strong centralized government is what Iraq has endured since its creation and that alone should be enough indication of what the nature of this forced political entity has been.
If the US had been more flexible in its vision of the future Middle Eastern heartland, it might have taken into consideration the analogy of Yugoslavia, an analogy proposed by Leslie Gelb back in November, 2003, and similar to the proposal made by Galbraith. Galbraith and Gelb differed in details but both agreed that Iraq could not sustain itself, or be sustained, as a unitary state. If their proposals had been discussed seriously, beginning in 2003, perhaps the reactions after the Askeriye mosque bombing would not have come as such a shock to everyone outside of Iraq. For a good read on the idea of decentralization, check The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government.
Today's post on Iraq Rising provides some excellent food for thought about the inevitability of separation. There have been occasional short reports on Shi'a discussion of a possible Shi'a state, once again, it should be no shock that some are starting to talk about the inevitability of such a thing happening. The danger here is the rise of another theocratic Shi'a regime like the one in Iran, but I have to agree with Akba's comments on the subject. I have hoped and continue to hope that good relations would exist between any independent Kurdish entity in the north and any independent Shi'a entity in the south.
For further information on how things were developing--until August, 2005--in the Shi'a region, especially in Basra, Steven Vincent's blog, is a valuable resource. He must have been right on target with his observations because he became a target last August, for those who don't remember. Another good resource for the same region is Fayrouz in Beaumont.
As for an independent South Kurdistan, this should come as a surprise to no one except those who have been so blinded by the US policy of the enforced unity of Iraq. I guess those wearing the blinders are those who are now most closely following Michael Totten's reports from South Kurdistan. It was only a few months ago, December to be exact, that certain Kurd-haters were attempting to portray the Southern Kurds as two-faced, under-handed, backstabbing savages preparing to "swarm" all over the place with Kurdish "militias" in a grab for Kerkuk, among other places. However, the Kurdish desire for independence is an old one, meaning it should come to no surprise except to the ignorant or the wilfully malevolent. Independence is the majority opinion of Southern Kurds.
If there had been any serious discussion of the Three-State Solution since its first proposal, the Kurd-haters of the world would not be falsely accusing the Southern Kurds of planning to "invade" Kerkuk. This subject has not been discussed in an open manner at all, thanks to American-inspired machinations aimed at bolstering the bad idea of a unitary Iraqi state. For some info on the subject of Kerkuk, one can read Michael Totten's take on it, since very few are inclined to take a Kurd's word on the subject.
I did like one of Michael Totten's own replies, at that link, about Israeli activity on the ground in Kurdistan. He comes up with the same result I have had for some time: There is no Israeli activity on the ground in South Kurdistan. The idea that hundreds--no! maybe thousands--of Israelis are directing every event in South Kurdistan has been a slur of the Turkish and Arab media since 2003, which they use against Kurds. The absurd accusations culminated in the propaganda of another Kurd-hater, in the NYTimes, in 2004, Seymour Hersh. Apparently he got his information during an interview with Abdullah Gul and the article is widely cited by Kurd-haters of all varieties. Confirmation of that came from Haaretz and through Michael Rubin, with both citing Cumhuriyet.
One other item of interest from this week is that CENTCOM is engaging in a new form of electronic warfare, but they call it "electronic media engagement." Read it all here.