Downsides of Partitioning Iraq
Some readers asked me why I was so against partitioning Iraq.
It is because it would cause a great deal of trouble to us all, not least Iraqis. Iraq is not divided neatly into three ethnic enclaves. It is all mixed up. There are a million Kurds in Baghdad, a million Sunnis in the Shiite deep south, and lots of mixed provinces (Ta’mim, Ninevah, Diyalah, Babil, Baghdad, etc.). There is a lot of intermarriage among various Iraqi groups. Look at President Ghazi Yawir. He is from the Sunni Arab branch of the Shamar tribe. But some Shamar are Shiites. One of his wives is Nasrin Barwari, a Kurdish cabinet minister. What would partition do to the Yawirs?
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.
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 rump Shiite state would be rich, with the Rumayla and other fields, and might well declare a Shiite Islamic republic. 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?