Opinion | Columnists

Let's try partitioning the US

As if they haven't done enough damage bombing and invading a country on false pretences, destroying its culture and leaving it a charred shell of its former self, they - American lawmakers who gave President George W. Bush authority to go to war.

  • By Linda S. Heard, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:12 October 2, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Illustration by Nino Jose Heredia/Gulf News

As if they haven't done enough damage bombing and invading a country on false pretences, destroying its culture and leaving it a charred shell of its former self, they - American lawmakers who gave President George W. Bush authority to go to war - now want to divide Iraq up into easily manageable bite size entities.

Isn't Iraq supposed to be a sovereign nation with an elected government? If so, then why is the US Senate attempting to meddle in its affairs by overwhelmingly passing a resolution calling for the country's partition into three, which is tantamount to ethnic cleansing? Not to put too fine a point the shape of Iraq to come isn't their business.

Moreover, even if they had a stake in the country they are responsible for destroying, which they certainly do not, American senators who may or may not have enjoyed a two-day jaunt to Baghdad's Green Zone are not qualified to be the deciders.

The Iraqi government was quick to put a damper on the proposal. Its spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said "It's the Iraqis who decide these sorts of issues, no-one else".

According to a recent ABC/BBC poll a mere nine per cent of Iraqis favour the break-up of their country.

The Arab League was equally condemnatory. Its Iraq representative Ali Al Garush called upon Arab nations to stand by the Iraqi people in their opposition to the proposal.

Secretary-General of the GCC Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah said partition would make the situation in Iraq more difficult and complicated. Official statements from Syria and Iran were even more scathing.

With so much Iraqi and regional hostility against the plan what are those 75 senators that voted in favour of it thinking? It was Democratic Senator Joseph Biden a presidential hopeful who initiated the vote.

Biden explained his rationale during a news conference. He maintains his proposal offers a way to bring home American troops while leaving behind a stable Iraq. It's evident that his thinking is based on a series of false premises.

First of all the future of Iraq should not be designed around a convenient exit for US troops. Biden and his fellows should understand a simple principle. American troops are the interlopers not the Iraqi people, who have suffered enough already.

Secondly, the partitioning of Iraq into a loose federation of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish states will not bring stability as he suggests. There would have to be a massive displacement of people, many of whom would end up impoverished or homeless.

Such a division would also lead to friction over natural resources. For instance, Biden's plan calls for just 20 per cent of oil revenues going to Sunnis, who already feel hard done by after losing the political influence they once enjoyed. There is also the question of which mini-state would control oil-rich Kirkuk, an ethnically-mixed city strongly coveted by the Kurds.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that such insular states would not be mutually hostile, further exacerbating existing ethnic tensions.

Thirdly, although many Kurds are amenable to complete autonomy, their neighbours are most definitely not. If a Kurdish state became a reality it's probable that Turkey would invade.

Turkey fears that such an entity would unduly influence its own Kurdish population, which has its own separatist ambitions. Iran also has strong objections.

Fourth, such a break-up would stand as a worrying precedent for vulnerable countries in the region with multi-ethnic populations.

Either Biden is completely clueless and is unaware of the havoc such a breakup of Iraq would wreak, or he harbours a more sinister agenda.

Rendered toothless

If Iraq were to be broken into three, the nation would be rendered toothless for all time in the same way the former Yugoslavia is today.

The US would then have an excuse to stay around in some force "to protect" such tiny fledgling states from each other and from their neighbours. In fact, it would consolidate complete domination of their oil because such small entities would no longer have a voice.

The biggest winner from the partitioning of Iraq would be Israel, whose officials and journalists have long advocated such division.

On the Shalom TV website there is an interview with Joe Biden who refers to Israel as the "single greatest strength America has in the Middle East" and proclaims with pride "I am a Zionist". We should believe him.

Here's a suggestion for the Arab world. How about a vote on the break-up of America?

How about giving California back to Mexico, returning Hawaii to its indigenous islanders and Alaska to the Eskimos and Indians?

Let's restrict Caucasians to the East and West coasts, and package-up a few states in between for African Americans and Latinos. And while we're about it, let's invite foreign conglomerates to buy up the country's oil, gas and timber.

Outrageous ethnic cleansing that might be but that's exactly what Biden and friends think they have the right to do in Iraq. Surely if such uninformed nose-poking is good enough for Washington, it's equally appropriate for the rest of us.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at lheard@gulfnews.com. Response to this article may be considered for publication



Your comments


Having read the article, I was dissapointed at the lack of academic argument from Ms Heard. The article ranted and raved about 'let's do to the US what they are doing to us' attitude rather than really understanding the challenges in Iraq. Partition is not a new item on the agenda. It has regrettably been used in India, Russia and the Balkans where clearely ethnic background and bitter history existed between citizens collected under one name. The Iraqis have yet to prove their ability to govern in an organised manner and time will not heal the divisions that have and still exist in the country. We need to look at all the options before dismissing Senator Biden outright.
Paul
Dubai,UAE
Posted: October 02, 2007, 11:53

It is definitely, the lack of unity among Arabs and Arab Nations which brought this situation. If the Middle East countries stand up together, forgiving their differences, they will eventually end up in a state where they can even buy out their real enemies.
Shameer
Dubai,UAE
Posted: October 02, 2007, 11:45

I agree completely with Ms. Heard's thoughts on the partitioning of Iraq. The US senate has no business telling the elected government of Iraq what to do with their future. As long as George Bush is president we will stand with the Iraqi government and assist them in every way we can in stabilising and we hope solving the problems created by our invasion.
Rance
Vandalia,USA
Posted: October 02, 2007, 08:43

This is a continuation of the dismemberment of the former Ottoman Empire by the Russian, British, French, German and Astro-Hungarian empires. They also sent in people like Lawrence of Arabia to stir up tribal warfare and encourage terrorism even when Turkey was neutral in the vast global wars set off by these rival empires. Note how relentlessly the empires chop up Palestine, acre by acre, tree by tree, every hut, every stone, taken brutally while ethnic religious cleansing is openly celebrated in both Europe and the US as a great and wonderful thing!
Elaine
Berlin NY,USA
Posted: October 02, 2007, 07:46

As long as the Arab leaders do not object to all these massacres and now the partition, the US will do as it pleases because no one objects to its agenda.
Johanna
Paris,France
Posted: October 02, 2007, 07:26

Linda S. Heard you really need to separate your feelings from facts in order to write a sound article. This is not an opinion, this is called confusion. Federalism is not what you have portrayed here.
Hiwa
Irbil,Iraq
Posted: October 02, 2007, 06:27

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