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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    U.S. Iraq Partition Plan undermines Iraq’s makeup

    Yusra Tekbaliassistant news editor
    Yusra Tekbali
    assistant news editor

    About a week ago, the United States Senate voted 75-23 for a non-binding resolution that calls for a radical policy change in Iraq, dividing it into three semi-autonomous regions made up of Kurds, Sunnis and Shia, with a weak federal government in Baghdad.

    The plan, sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., is the first to go against the Bush administration’s strategy, a note Biden seems to be using to secure his 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The plan was regardless of whether it is consistent with wishes of the Iraqi people, who quickly put rivalries aside and joined forces to rally against the proposal. In addition, the Arab League vehemently criticized the plan, and even our own U.S. Embassy in Baghdad pointed out the plan’s obvious unworkable design in a statement released Sunday, saying: “”Our goal in Iraq remains the same: a united, democratic, federal Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself.””

    A September 2007 poll commissioned by the BBC and ABC found that only 9 percent of Iraqis wanted a country divided into separate independent states. Only 28 percent wanted a group of regional governments with a federal government in Baghdad, and 62 percent said they wanted a unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad. Despite this, Biden boldly calls his plan a solution to ending the war in Iraq “”in a way that we are able to ultimately to bring our troops home and leave a stable Iraq behind.””

    Since when is forced decentralization in a country that desperately desires to be sewn back together a path for stability?

    Under a partition plan

    If anything, Biden’s plan brings about notions of a Divide-and-conquer strategy, all too familiar in the Middle East, where partition is still soaked with imperialistic notions and previous Western
    foreign policy implications that manifest themselves to this day.

    it’s impossible for Iraq’s resources to be divided equally, suggesting that the U.S. has a lot to gain from a weak Iraq with easy access to oil from their allies, the Kurds, whom Turkey will never agree to support. Neighboring Iran will definitely side with the Iraqi Shia faction, blacklisting it by default, and thereby insuring its demise. Saudi Arabia will side with the Sunnis, since it oppresses its own Shia population in the area that borders Iraq, ultimately creating a country of three different sections backed by three different powers. In voting for this plan, Congress has proven once again that the U.S. has no workable strategy for Iraq, other than one that points to the nearest exit.

    If anything, Biden’s plan brings about notions of a divide-and-conquer strategy all too familiar in the Middle East, where partition is still soaked with imperialistic notions and previous Western foreign policy implications that manifest themselves to this day. Starting with the Sykes-Picot-Sazanov agreement made during World War I, in 1916, England and France began chipping the Arab world into countries under direct foreign rule, destroying the Arabs’ attempt at an independent state and depriving them of the unity they had under the Ottomans. A year later, the British committed themselves to the Zionist cause of a homeland in Palestine, further enraging the Arabs. Ever since, instability in the form of six international wars and two intifadas continues to plague the entire Middle East.

    Meanwhile, Arab leaders appointed by the West enjoyed their new status and ruled over a people that desired unity – and to a large extent still do. If the division of Middle Eastern land into artificial factions has proven to be a disaster, why is it a model Congress wants to emulate?

    Biden and his supporters point to the Balkans and the proclaimed success of ending Bosnia’s civil war in 1995. However, even after the partition in Bosnia, which was easier to negotiate given that years of ethnic cleansing divided the country already, things are still tense. Moreover, Bosnia’s population of around 4 million is much smaller than Iraq’s 26 million.

    Bosnia is not Iraq, the cradle of civilization that Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims all over the world recognize as a place where Arab civilization reached its peak under the 600-year rule of the Abbasid Caliphate. All Arabs and Muslims are directly affected by the changes that occur in Iraq; partitioning it won’t just destabilize that country but also all the countries near it, creating a greater avenue for Middle East fury and anti-U.S. sentiments.

    Distributing power by ethnicity or sectarian affiliation is not democracy; it’s a formula for discrimination. Strengthening Iraq’s rivaling factions by placing command in each of their hands will not lead to a peaceful compromise but a weak, divided country ruled by desperate powermongers who must compete for international recognition. In a country where the majority of the people are bound together with a mutual history, geography, language, religion, tradition and hope for unity, division will be a setback with grave repercussions. A federalist plan that’s being imposed from the top up by an occupying power has not and will not be accepted in Iraq, where self-determination is our supposed mission. Why, then, is our Congress acting like a dictator?

    Yusra Tekbali is a senior majoring in journalism and Near Eastern studies, and an assistant news editor. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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