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It appears now that even the Bush administration is looking for a way to honorably withdraw from Iraq. With midterm elections approaching, key figures in both major U.S. political parties are losing faith in the “stay the course” policy and are looking for a fast way out.
The major media are once again floating a trial balloon for a liberal left idea. They are increasingly pounding away at the concept of creating a kind of “federal Iraq.” This is a code phrase for dividing Iraq into three autonomous zones.
Taking into account the three major population groups in Iraq, the proposed divisions would include the Kurdish Zone in the north, the Shiites in the south, and the Sunnis in the center of the country.
When I first heard it, I even entertained the idea for a brief moment. But after reflecting on the history of this area, I quickly changed my mind. When the vast Ottoman Turkish Empire was defeated in World War I, none of the present Muslim nations existed.
The Ottomans, who ruled that part of the world for four centuries, systematically destroyed national entities and made them regions under the direct control of Istanbul.
The conquering British and French created the present nations and their borders. Iraq did not even exist until Winston Churchill took a map and with his pen drew its present borders. The same thing was done for most of the Middle East. Nations were created with a stroke of a pen. The chaotic aftermath illustrates what happens when the West interjects its ideas into Middle East problems without understanding the peculiar nature of each area and how important the Muslim sects are that inhabit them.
They were almost totally ignorant of 1) the ancient tribal homelands and the fierce rivalry between certain tribes, and 2) the areas that were traditionally controlled by certain sects of Islam and just how important that control is. When Churchill casually sketched the borders of the new nation of Iraq, he guaranteed that there would be problems that could only be contained by a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein.
Unwittingly, Churchill forced together into one entity the Kurds, whom everyone hated, the Sunni sect, which was a minority in the area, and the majority Shiite sect.
The Shiites’ holiest shrines were included, but land that had traditionally been part of the old nation was placed into another new nation called Kuwait.
Lebanon had been part of pre-Ottoman Syria, but the French carved it out separately.
Trans-Jordan, which became the Kingdom of Jordan under a British fiat, was also artificially created by the stroke of a pen. In fact, at the Conference of San Remo in 1922, the League of Nations originally mandated Trans-Jordan to be part of a Jewish homeland.
But Israel surrendered it so that the original inhabitants of the territory of Palestine would have a homeland.
But let’s get back to the Iraq problem. The situation as it exists today in Iraq cannot be solved by another imposition of Western stupidity. Sixty-two percent of the Iraqi population is Shiite. The Sunnis make up about 30 percent and the Kurds about 8 percent.
If there is, indeed, a division into three separate states, this is what will happen. The Shiites are a fundamentalist sect of Islam and recognize the Ayatollah of Iran as their spiritual leader. They will immediately reject American-imposed democracy and become inseparably aligned with Iran.
The Sunnis will be forced into an alignment with Sunni Syria for self-protection.
The Kurds appreciate the United States and would remain separate and continue to be our friends. The only problem is that Turkey, Syria and Iran hate the Kurds. Turkey would break relations with us for creating a Kurdish state. It would demand that we remove our extremely vital military bases from Turkish soil.
That would leave the U.S. with two friends in the Middle East that are hated by everyone – Israel and Kurdistan.
A further complication that would surely cause conflict is the fact that almost all of Iraq’s oil is in the Shiite and Kurdish areas. There’s not much chance of a workable arrangement whereby the Shiites and the Kurds would share their wealth with the Sunnis. Remember, Saddam Hussein was Sunni, and he and his sect inflicted unspeakable suffering on the Shiites and Kurds.
But now, the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Parliament has approved the idea of a three-state Iraq, and the idea is developing legs.
To make matters worse, former Secretary of State James Baker has been leading a panel called the Iraq Survey Group. This committee has been studying the situation and is due to hand the White House just such a recommendation following the elections.
Naturally, the Iraqi Sunnis, responsible for most of the insurgent violence, oppose the plan. As I said, most of the oil is in the Shia and Kurdish Zones.
So if the plan goes forward, the threatened Sunnis will start a civil war. But the Kurds and the Shiites suggest that if the plan doesn’t go forward, they will start a civil war. The only way to hold Iraq together would be for the U.S. to impose a ruthless occupation, which we will not do.
The actions of the Western powers, taken decades ago with total ignorance of the area’s history, are now insoluble – just as the Bible prophets predicted they would be in the “last days.” But these same prophets predicted that this would pave the way for a person of enormous powers who is waiting in the wings to be unveiled – he is called “the anti-Christ.” The world is just about ready to embrace him.
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