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Can Iraq Be Successfully Torn Apart

can iraq be split into 2, 3, 4...?
by Laura Heaton
UPI Correspondent
Washington (UPI) Dec 01, 2006
Washington is abuzz with theories offering a potential way out of Iraq, one risk expert poses a new option: split Iraq in two. "We need radical thinking. The military situation (in Iraq) cries out for political experimentation," David Apgar, a risk and development strategist and author of the book "Risk Intelligence."

The approach that Apgar advocates divides Iraq into two separate states, with the border running from northeast to southwest, dividing the two countries just south of Baghdad.

"This partition proposal is not based purely on ethnicity...The two states would share Iraq's Shiite population between them, while one of the states would also include just about all of Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds," Apgar told United Press International.

The northern state would be composed of nearly equal proportions of Sunnis and Kurds, with a minority Shiite population living in and around Baghdad. The southern Shiite state would include the major Shiite holy sites as well as the southern oil fields.

"If you've got a state that's 40 percent Sunni and 40 percent Kurdish, roughly, and 20 percent Shiite, that 20 percent group is going to be the group that's almost always in power with one or the other of the two larger groups," Apgar said, drawing a comparison with the German centrist Free Democratic party, which maintains its influence despite being a minority.

The Shiites would "support Kurdish or Sunni political parties depending on the attention that those parties paid to the development needs of Baghdad's urban poor," Apgar said. "The needs of that 20 percent group (the Shiites in northern Iraq) would rarely go unheard," he said.

Apgar's proposal relies on the theorizing of Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and president of Eurasia Group, in his recent book "The J Curve." Bremmer's model, based on a composite of political openness, political stability, and availability of economic capital, suggests that closed states stabilize by growing more closed and open states stabilize by becoming more open.

Bremmer finds that plotting levels of political openness and political stability on a simple x-y axis creates a J-shaped curve. Countries that are least open maintain, at least in the short-term, high levels of stability. As a state moves toward becoming more open to influence from both within and beyond its borders, the state must pass through the lowest dip of the J curve when both openness and stability are compromised. The state regains stability as an electorate and institutions are established.

The border that Apgar proposes divides Iraq according to its communities' apparent preference for openness and tradition. Apgar explained that a northern state comprising the Sunnis, Iraq's administrative class, the Kurds, a cosmopolitan diaspora, and the urban Shiites would favor more open governance. A southern Shiite state would likely favor traditional governance, perhaps under Islamic law, Apgar said. With a political solution, the military could then oversee the transition.

Asked to comment on Apgar's proposal, Bremmer noted similarities between Apgar's proposal and a plan recently put forth by Sen. Joseph Biden (D, Del.) and said that both options build off of divisions that are already occurring in Iraq.

"Some variant of these proposals is already a reality in Iraq," Bremmer told UPI. "The north is moving toward a more Western-style democracy; that certainly can't be said for the rest of the country." Bremmer cautioned, though, that "historical precedent suggests that political experimentation could prove just as dangerous as military experimentation for Iraq's future."

Senator Biden's plan suggests that Iraq be divided into three semi-autonomous regions based on ethnic lines but with a limited central government in charge of common interests. Apgar's two-state solution, however, troubleshoots some primary weaknesses of the Biden plan, namely the distribution of oil wealth and the trepidation of neighboring states. Unlike Biden, Apgar accounts for these major considerations through the positioning of the boundary, rather than as elements of a peace agreement.

The partition between the north and south states would not "be based on any difficult to enforce promise about sharing oil or oil resources; each state would rely on its own supply. (...) It does not partition Baghdad itself. Metropolitan Baghdad would lie entirely within one of the states, while all of the major Shiite holy sites would lie within the other," Apgar said.

Apgar also outlined the advantages that a two-state solution in Iraq would bring to neighboring countries. Most notably, this arrangement would quell Turkey's concern about having a semi-autonomous Kurdish region at its southern border. Under Apgar's proposal, Kurds in the northern Iraq state would benefit from being equal in proportion to the next largest ethnic group, but through the combined Shiite and Sunni population, the northern state would maintain an Arab majority.

The countries bordering a southern Iraq state, namely Saudi Arabia and Iran, however, may have the most to say (and do) about a potential two-state solution. The Saudis have already promised to defend Sunnis threatened by violence from Iran-backed Shiite militias.

And it is difficult to predict how Shiite leaders would relate to Kurdish and Sunni leaders in the northern state, or how a Shiite government in the south would regard its neighbors.

As a preface to describing his proposal, Apgar said, "We seem to stick with one political conception in Iraq for years, or certainly months, at a time. We need the same kind of trial and error in our political approach that we use in our military approach."

"Let's start thinking about what Iraqis need," Apgar said.

And perhaps we should, at least, begin to entertain potential solutions that may at first seem radical.

Source: United Press International

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More Troops In Iraq Will Make Little Difference
Washington (UPI) Nov 30, 2006
The latest serpent at which a drowning Washington Establishment is grasping is the idea of sending more American troops to Iraq. Would more troops turn the war there in America's favor? No.







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