“Downsides of Partioning Iraq,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/downsides-of-partitioning-iraq-some.html, 4 January 2005 (from Andrew Sullivan).
Dr. Juan Cole argues against partioning Iraq. While partitioning as such might not be the best idea (a federal structure with Reconstruction for the Sunni lands makes a lot more sense) his reasoning is wrong, wrong wrong.
Then, how do you split up the resources? If the Sunni Arabs don’t get Kirkuk, then they will be poorer than Jordan. Don’t you think they will fight for it? The Kurds would fight to the last man for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk if it was a matter of determining in which country it ended up.
If the Kurds got Kirkuk and the Sunni Arabs became a poor cousin to Jordan, the Sunni Arabs would almost certainly turn to al-Qaeda in large numbers. Some Iraqi guerrillas are already talking about hitting back at the US mainland. And, Fallujah is not that far from Saudi Arabia, which Bin Laden wants to hit, as well, especially at the oil. Fallujah Salafis would hook up with those in Jordan and Gaza to establish a radical Sunni arc that would destabilize the entire region.
I think they’re already fighting. A civil war has already begun. If pro-Democracy Kurds become rich and pro-Totalitarian Sunnis become “poorer than Jordon,” good. Jordon has very limited ability to cause trouble. We do not want to arm our ideological enemies with oil wealth. We have let the Saudis keep their oil wells for fifty years, and it has not been working that well.
Al Qaeda in Iraq (former Monotheism and Jihad) is a leading terrorist organization there now. It is to late to keep them out. Tolerated by the Sunni-Ba’athis under Saddam Hussein, they are organized, motivated, and murderous.
Al Qaeda has already attacked us in our homeland. Sunni Iraqis have already “hook[ed] up with” those in other nations. The first world trade center bombing, for example, was masterminded by an Iraqi. Refusing to recognize that we are at war now and a “radical Sunni arc” is destabilizing the region now is foolishness.
Divorced from the Sunnis, the Shiites of the south would no longer have any counterweight to religious currents like al-Dawa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the Sadrists.
The Dawa Party has endorsed the elections. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolutionin Iraq has endorsed the election. Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are running in the elections. These are the democratic forces in Iraq. Why should they be “counterweighted” by Sunni thugs?
The rump Shiite state would be rich, with the Rumayla and other fields, and might well declare a Shiite Islamic republic.
The fact is the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most progressive forces in the region. It has an educated and secular population that operates unders a constitutional republic. Iran has our enemies — they have always opposed the Taliban and the Ba’athi reign of Saddam Hussein. Iran is friends with many of our friends, including Russia and China. Iran has an ability to trascend ideology in its foreign policy (say supporting the Christian Republic of Armenia in its struggles against Azerbaijan, or its support for the “infidel” Alawite Ba’ath Party in Syria) lightyears ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Reality determines policy. Events have conspired to give us and Iran very similar interests. There is no reason to throw that away.
It is being coupled with the Sunnis that mainly keeps them from going down that road. A Shiite South Iraq might make a claim on Shiite Eastern Arabia in Saudi Arabia, or stir up trouble there. The Eastern Province can pump as much as 11% of the world’s petroleum.
So Americans would like this scenario why?
This is a reason to support Shia power. By their continued support for repression, terrorism, and hatred, the Saudis have stabbed us in the back. Their interests are not our interests. Spreading a democratic Shia revolution along the Persian Gulf would at worst check Saudi ambitions and at best create a order for that region.
There is more to life than cheap oil. Such as ending the regimes that support terrorism.
The true downside of isolating the Iraqi Sunni remnant is that it would cement the disconnectedness of that region. Before Saddam the Sunnis were the most connected, the most “Core” of Mesopotamia. It is an irony of history that with the liberation, the formerly isolated Kurds and Shia are embracing the world while the formerly secular Sunnis are turning inward.
Disconnnectedness breeds terrorism. Have freed the majority of Iraq’s people and wealth, we may have to be content with 4/5ths victory. 4/5ths of the people free. 4/5ths of the wealth out of the hands of outlaws. 1/5th sullent, hateful, and backwards.
If the Palestinian election creates an administration capable of peace, from the Israeli administration to independence will have taken a little less than two generations. Taking freedom’s wins in Iraq now, we may have to wait until 2044 to join the world. In the meantime it will continue to be a danger. And if we do leave al-Anbar Province, we will be back.