Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 6:04 AM

Time to Partition Iraq? No Sh*#!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.15.14 PMRichard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, which promotes itself as “an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource to help people better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.”

Unsurprisingly, Haass is a mainstay on TV talk shows, providing purportedly visionary and authoritative commentary on all manner of political developments across the globe. Such was the case on Sunday—when he appeared on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS to discuss the internecine struggle between Sunnis and Shiites. This, of course, is the struggle that has been threatening for millennia to blow not just Iraq but the entire Middle East asunder.

Here is how Haass replied when Zakaria asked about partitioning Iraq — where the United States remains hostage to so many vested interests — as a panacea:

Iraq is effectively breaking up … [into] an Iranian Shia version of Iraq … a Kurdish Iraq [and] a Sunni Arab tribal Iraq.

And I think to the United States the real question is, when do we give up the game?

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 4.41.11 PMExcept that, almost a decade ago, some of us declared partition the inevitable consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was self-evident that Sunnis (who compose twenty percent of the population) and Kurds (who compose seventeen percent) would never consent to be governed by a central government dominated by Shiites (who compose sixty percent). This is why we urged the United States to “give up the game” of nation building among them way back then.

I fail to understand (not that Bush’s critics have even bothered to explain) how changing control of Congress or firing Rumsfeld will improve conditions on the ground in Iraq. And it’s probably too late to execute what I thought was the only way to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure and form a viable federal government: Namely, to implement a Marshall Plan (a la post WWII Japan) under martial law enforced by the ‘several hundred thousand U.S. troops’ the truly visionary Gen. Eric Shinseki said would be needed in postwar Iraq.

I fear the only hope now is to partition the country into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni zones and leave them to defend their own borders and barter (or fight) for a share Iraq’s oil wealth.

So, here’s to the triumph of opportunistic politics over failed military strategies.

(“At Last, Rumsfeld Becomes a Casualty of the Iraq War,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2006)

Alas, I fear it’s too late now to partition Iraq. Not least because this was only feasible when the United States wielded de facto colonial authority over the entire country and could compel sectarian leaders to the table.

But the new, Shiite-dominated government has not only kicked the United States out, but invited Iran in. And, Iran is now wielding the kind of influence the United wasted thousands of lives and nearly a trillion dollars to acquire.

Crooked-mullahs-520x245More to the point, the last thing the Persian Mullahs who rule Iran want is for their Shiite brothers to cede any part of Iraq to Sunnis Arabs. But, to better appreciate Shiite enmity towards Sunnis, consider that the only people these Mullahs hate more than Jews are the Sunni royals who rule Saudi Arabia.

It’s complicated; which explains why cocksure, warmongering neo-cons—who goaded Bush into invading Iraq—are the only ones criticizing Obama for not having simple military strategy for dealing with the mess in the Middle East. You’d never know that these are the same folks who stirred up the hornet’s nest of sectarian violence the world has been trying in vain to contain ever since.

Abdullah, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-SaudAgain, Sunnis and Shiites are waging a never-ending struggle for the soul (and control) of Islam. Their latest bone of contention stems from the belief among Iranians that Saudis have been proselytizing a medieval and perverse form of Islam called Wahhabism, which has inspired nobody but jihadi terrorists who find salvation in ISIS/al-Qaeda-style crusades.

In any event, I cannot overstate that the United States should leave the warring Islamic factions across Africa and the Middle East to their own devices. It should merely warn whichever one emerges as the governing authority that it will suffer a Taliban-like fate too if it harbors terrorists within its borders.  In other words, with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien:

One Drone to find them all, One Drone to watch them,

One Drone to bomb them all, and from the skies contain them,

In the Land of Babylon where the Dark Ages loom.

All else is folly, including Johnnies-come-lately (like Haass) now playing visionary pundits on TV.

Related commentaries:
Casualty of war

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