“Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia,” by Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 27 December 2005, http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/world/13495329.htm (from America Blog and Democratic Underground).
Very happy news from Kurdistan, an embryo of democracy in the Middle East:
Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.
This is fantastic news.
Iraq is an artificial state that should break apart. Baghdad Spring, that destabilization of the Middle East caused by Bush’s gift of elections to Iraq, was a wonderful reward for the Iraq War. The trifurcation of Iraq is another.
Dr. Barnett has written a lot about a “SysAdmin,” the reconstruction force that should take conquered land and turn them (eventually) into peaceful capitalist democracies. It can barely work as envisioned in the best of cases, and spending vital energy trying to keep imaginary states created by the British and French together is just wasteful. Next time we invade a country like Iraq, rationalization of borders should be assumed from the beginning.
Besides waisting time and effort, trying to keep fake countries together hurts in another way: it can make progress go backwards. Before the Iraq War the Kurds already had a functional democracy. If we are going to pretend that they should be ruled by Ba’ath Revivalists, the Iraq War would have sacrificed a democracy (Iraqi Kurdistan) on the altar of Affirmative Action for Murderers (trying to buy off Arab Sunnis by pretending Arab Sunni political parties are different from Arab Sunni terrorists). Fortunately, the Kurds have had enough.
More on the Kurdish soldiers, preparing to create their New Kurdish Republic
The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga – the Kurdish militia – and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn’t hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.
“It doesn’t matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion,” said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. “Kirkuk will be ours.”
The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they’ve long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga – literally, “those who face death” – told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.
Happily, the majority Shia are also planning for the dismemberment of Iraq:
Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq’s central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.
As I wrote a year ago
A trifurcated Iraqi state would be a success. It would represent a victory for local democracy. It would improve connectivity. And it would prove a valuable warning for future regimes.
Iraq was not democratically created. There were no founding fathers or great constitutional convention after the end of the Great War. It was merely one of four new states (along with Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq) carved out by two victors. Of the original four, one has already disintegrated (Transjordan into Jordan and Israel, which will soon splinter into Israel and Palestine) and another (Lebanon) has lost territorial integrity. Allowing local sovereigns that represent the will of actual peoples would be a step up, if they wish it so.
Iraq has not been connected. Before Saddam Iraq was poor, illiterate, and backwards, and after a brief rebirth it sank almost all the way back again. Even though they were the original Westernizers, it appears that a significant fraction of Iraq’s Sunnis are hostile to globalization and connectivity. No people can be pulled ahead unwillingly. Even if modern-term strategy requires us to abandon the Sunni Triangle, hooking Kurdistan and Shia Iraq to the rest of the world, that is a tremendous victory. A free, democratic, and peaceful Kurdistan shows a future worth creating to both Turks and Turkish Kurds. And a non-authoritarian Shia Iraq is a bright light for Shia Iran. The Sunnis represent only 20% of Iraq. 80% victory is not 100% victory, but it is still victory.
Don’t spill Coalition blood for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.