Monday, August 15, 2005

Iraq - Civil War is inevitable

The new name proposed for Iraq is the 'Federal Republic of Iraq'. This means the proposer or proposers are pushing for federalism, one of the sore points of the yet-to-be-agreed-upon new constitution.

The Shiites have also come out in support of federalism which was first proposed by the Kurds. Obviously the Kurds want to eventually break away as an independent solely-Kurdish nation. They aren’t going to cop it anymore under Arab rule. The Shiites must have assessed that trying to control the Kurds under one Iraq may be more trouble than is worth it, and decide to go alone too, as a new autonomous southern state. After all, most of the oil are in the south.

The only group protesting are the Sunnis, for one sole reason. If federalism goes the way the Kurds and Shiites want it, then in the event of secessions, the Sunnis with their central strip of Iraq around Baghdad will not have the oil-rich fields which are mainly in the northern Kurdish claimed province and southern Shiite claimed state.

The Sunnis will end up like Jordan without any lucrative oil assets. They aren’t likely to accept federalism, even though the agreement has been for the oil revenue to be split according to population percentage, that is, 60% for Shiites, 20% for Kurds and 20% for Sunnis. But the Sunnis know that this arrangement is only as good as the Federated states will remain as one Iraq.

The Americans are happy of course as long as they can lay their hands on the oil, and they want that oil to be cheap oil. The Kurds are beholden to them (at least for the time being) while Ahmad Chalabi is politically strong in the south. In fact Chalabi has been the one pushing for an autonomous southern region controlled by the Shiites. Chalabi is of course an Pentagon man (or so they think).

Additionally, the Kurds insist on retaining their 100,000 strong private militia, the peshmerga, as a security force for the Kurdish-controlled zone. This is as good as signalling the Kurdish intention to break off from Iraq.

President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd, is naturally insisting that most issues have been resolved and the new charter would be ready within the next 24 hours, a day ahead of the Monday deadline. He is of course referring to the concept of federalism and the acceptance for states to maintain their own militia. But the Sunnis have voiced their objections.

STOP PRESS: I have just read the latest news where the Sunnis have refused to sign up for the new constitution unless the proposed 'federalism' is dropped. The Shiites and Kurds are threatening to go ahead without the Sunnis, but then that will not be a creditable passage of the constitution, depriving them of the necessary credibility and legality. Of course Zalmay Khalilzad, US Ambassador to Iraq said that would be fine.

'Federalism' is the stalemate factor, and thus even if the majority Shiites backed by the Kurds bulldoze the constitution through, I predict the continuance and indeed intensification of the Sunni-led insurgency, and eventually civil war once the Americans leave, which the US will the moment they feel their Iraqi henchmen are in control of the northern and southern oil fields.

The post-US equation will be very complicated. There are the Israelis who may be expected to train, arm and assist the Kurds with intelligence and equipment. Undoubtedly they will be working in concert with the Americans.

Then there is Sunni but anti-Kurdish Turkey who doesn’t want to see a Kurdish state, so they may either intervene directly in the name of their kinfolks the Iraqi Turkmans, and make a grab for some parts of northern Iraq including the oil fields, or support the Sunni insurgency against the Kurds.

Shiite Iran is of course just next door, with an anti-American bias, and how it will help the Iraqi Shiites remain to be seen. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states may decide not to encourage a powerful Shiite presence and therefore sabotage them by supporting the Sunni insurgents.

And China, India and the Europeans will be attempting to secure oil deals from everyone while snookering the US in the process.

It’s time like this when some Americans wish they have their old buddy back, you know, that Mother of them all, the one who shook buddy-hands with Donald Runsfeld.

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