Kaufmann Iraq Partition Fait Accompli

Kaufmann: Iraq Partition Fait Accompli

Chaim Kaufmann writes

‘ Juan, your piece in Salon objecting to a possible partition of Iraq is factually right about virtually everything — but addresses the wrong question: The issue is no longer whether to partition Iraq, but whether anyone can stop Iraq from partitioning itself.

In the North a /de facto/ partition is in place. In the South partition is taking shape as a result of the civil war and ethnic cleansing.

Who could prevent partition? As you point out, Iran will not. Turkey opposes a /de jure /Kurdish state, but does it care what happens in the rest of Iraq? You mention a Saudi initiative to try to generate religious authority for an end to killing in Iraq, but I cannot tell whether you think that this has a realistic chance of stopping the war.

It is true that partition will not end all motives for Sunnis and Shia to continue fighting or to resume fighting later, but the continuing separation of the populations will gradually reduce what is the most important motive driving the war now.

Incidentally, the Indo-Pakistani wars from 1948 onward were not due to British imposition of partition. There was a civil war in Punjab during partition in 1947 because the partition line took no account of Sikh interests. Partition did not, however, cause any of the Indo-Pakistani wars from 1948 onwards: the 1971 war was caused by internal repression within Pakistan, by Punjabis against Bengalis. All of the other wars (1948, 1965, 1999, the ongoing rebellion) were caused by the *failure* to include Kashmir in the 1947 partition, leaving that former princely state up for grabs.

Chaim ‘


Chaim Kaufmann

Associate Professor
International Relations
Lehigh University