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The Failure of Partition - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The first we heard about the determination of US Congress to approve the partitioning of Iraq into three statelets was through Dr. Iyad Allawi, who was the first Prime Minister of modern Iraq. We were having lunch with him when he stated with condemnation, following a telephone call, that Congress was discussing the partition of Iraq. Full of dread, he said it was without doubt a dangerous step and a foolish idea. Fortunately, the American President George W. Bush rejected partition this time.

This is yet another unwise proposal, which is similar to the actions of the first administrator of modern Iraq, Paul Bremer, the day he dismantled the army, security [forces] and the Baath party. The reason is that some senators believe that giving a state to the Shia, a state to the Sunnis, and a state to the Kurds would satisfy the Iraqis and bring the conflict to an end.

If dividing Iraq into three states would please the Iraqis, no one would have objected to it. However the truth remains that the majority of Iraqis want a single central state. This is confirmed by an American poll conducted in Iraq, which showed that 61 percent of the Iraqi people are supporting a unified Iraqi state. The other problem with the idea of three separate Iraqi states is that borders are unclear, the population is mixed, and Iraq is a diverse country with other religions, sects and races other than Sunni, Shia and Kurdish.

A country of approximately half a million square kilometers and interrelated sects and races, cannot be cut into pieces like a cake. The truth is that Iraq is more complicated than any other place in the world. Consequently, to divide Iraq would mean impulsively that there would be multiple and extensive wars among the population over land, resources and administration, in contrast to the beliefs of Senator Joe Biden, who thinks that partition would end the fighting.

The first problem of united Iraq is in establishing a political system that includes most Iraqis, not all Iraqis because that would be impossible. When the overwhelming majority feels that it is represented by it, most disputes could be resolved through parliament, as is the case in Kirkuk between Arabs and Kurds or oil resources. It is common knowledge that establishing a central system that is representative of Iraqis is not an easy task, but it can be achieved through transparency, justice and patience. However, the enemies of the project are mostly abroad. The majority of the operations that were carried out over the past three years and were planned abroad are wars between states more so than between Iraqis themselves, who are being used as pawns in this game.

Those who call for partition consider it an easy escape from [the dilemma of] Iraq and this is an illusion. The US is a major state that has immense interests in the region and it will not endure the outcome of Iraq’s greater wars after dismantling it, which will be fiercer than the current bombings. Additionally, we believe that the solution lies in reconciling the Iraqi political situation with the security one. The Iraqis have made significant progress in reconciliation. As for the partition, which entertained some Iraqis, especially in oil-rich areas, it will make its people poorer and less secure because it will open the gates to more fighting.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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