US Embassy had to be prodded to object to Senate resolution urging division of Iraq

Only after Iraqi leaders made strenuous objections did the U.S. Embassy in Iraq take issue with an amazing and incomprehensible U.S. Senate resolution that seems to propose some sort of ethnic partitioning of Iraq.

Two of the most sinister suspicions aroused by the Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam in 2003 were (1) that it’s only about control over Iraq’s oil and (2) that this is also intended to carve up Iraq into three parts (that were only artificially joined together by British administration after World War I) — the Kurdish north, the Shi’a south, and the rest.

(The third most sinister suspicion was that another main aim was to get rid of Saddam, who — having for a time been a main beneficiary — knew too many secrets about Western companies and their government’s shenanigans in the region.)

The U.S. post-invasion policy of “affirmative action” favoring the Shi’a and Kurdish regions has probably inadvertently been in large part responsible for the ethnic bloodletting that it was apparently intended to avoid.

The current revival of partionist policies in the Middle East (in Iraq and in Palestine) is a most unhappy and unwise development. The results achieved from such policies in the aftermath of the Second World War do not, by and large, recommend these awful human experiments. The U.S. policy in the break-up of the Former Yugoslavia, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union, was in favor of “multi-ethnic democracies” and against ethnic cleansing. What has happened since that should recommend such sinister policies? Was it just all too much? Does being exhausted and over-burdened as a sole superpower mean that more people should suffer more tragedy?

Now, Walls are becoming fashionable in many regions…

In any case, as the Associated Press is reporting from Baghdad, “The U.S. Embassy, meanwhile, joined a broad swath of Iraqi politicians — both Shiite and Sunni — in criticizing a nonbinding U.S. Senate resolution seen here as a recipe for splitting the country along sectarian and ethnic lines. The Senate resolution, adopted last week, proposed reshaping Iraq according to three sectarian or ethnic territories. It calls for a limited central government with the bulk of power going to the country’s Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish regions, envisioning a power-sharing agreement similar to the one that ended the 1990s war in Bosnia. Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, a Democrat presidential candidate, was a prime sponsor. In a highly unusual statement, the U.S. Embassy said resolution would seriously hamper Iraq’s future stability. ‘Our goal in Iraq remains the same: a united, democratic, federal Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself’, the unsigned statement said … Iraq’s leaders must and will take the lead in determining how to achieve these national aspirations … [and] attempts to partition or divide Iraq by intimidation, force or other means into three separate states would produce extraordinary suffering and bloodshed’, it said. The statement came just hours after representatives of Iraq’s major political parties denounced the Senate proposal. The Kurds in three northern Iraqi provinces are running a virtually independent country within Iraq while nominally maintaining relations with Baghdad. They support a formal division, but both Sunni and Shiite Muslims have denounced the proposal …
Iraq’s constitution lays down a federal system, allowing Shiites in the south, Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the center and west of the country to set up regions with considerable autonomous powers. Nevertheless, ethnic and sectarian turmoil have snarled hopes of negotiating such measures,especially given deep divisions on sharing the country’s vast oil resources. Oil reserves and existing fields would fall mainly into the hands of Kurds and Shiites if such a division were to occur.”
The AP report on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq’s statement criticizing the Senate resolution is here.

Thanks to a link on Abu Aardvark, we found this pointed analysis of an externally-imposed partition of Iraq from Reidar Visser, research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and editor of the website about southern Iraq:

“All in all the Biden amendment is an alarming but useful numerical indication of the level of support for an ‘ethnic’ approach to Iraqi politics in the US Senate (the supporters included presidential candidate Hillary Clinton), as well as a reminder of the remarkable unfamiliarity among even elite US politicians with the finer points of Iraqi legislation on federalism. It does not bode well for the future that the potential successors to President Bush seem to converge on a scheme that would be even more unpalatable to the Muslim world than Washington’s current policy. True, Bush invaded Iraq, and Paul Bremer weakened the country severely. There are worrying signs that some in the State Department, like Ryan Crocker, are already indistinguishable from Biden by tirelessly ‘encouraging’ Sunnis to think in terms of federalism. But if his partition plans were implemented, Joe Biden would be remembered by Muslims and Arabs around the world in an altogether different way. He would be considered alongside other historical personalities who routinely are being accused by Middle Easterners for having destroyed their region completely: Arthur Balfour, Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot.” The analysis of the Biden amendment on the partition of Iraq is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *