The Baker Commission, a bipartisan group set up by Congress, is now proposing the division of Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. James Baker, former US Sec of State and Co-chair of the commission, says this is the only alternative to Bush’s steadfast rule of “staying the course.” The division will transfer power to the regions and a skeletal central government based in Baghdad will head up, among other things, the distribution of oil.
It turns out that this is not the first time the division of Iraq has been on the table. According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, the idea was actually part of the administration’s pre-invasion plan.
But like many administration non-plans, this one seems ill-advised.
According to the British Sunday Times, “Many Middle East experts are horrified by the difficulty of dividing the nation.” Juan Cole weighs in on his site:
1. No such loose federal arrangement would survive very long (remember the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States?).
2. The Sunni Arabs, the Da`wa Party and the Sadr Movement are all against such a partition and together they account for at least 123 members of the 275-member parliament.
3. The Sunni Arabs control Iraq’s downstream water but have no petroleum resources. If the loose federal plan ends in partition, the situation is set up for a series of wars of the Sunni Arabs versus the Shiites, as well as of the Sunni Arabs and some Turkmen versus the Kurds.
And so on.