If the phrase “very bad idea” would have only one application, it would be partition of Iraq. Even thinking of partition has catastrophic consequences. It provides political parties involved with a new set of motivations to not cooperate with federalism plan and to seek vigorous cleansing programs of their own, if existence of such programs could be acknowledged, to guarantee a strong hand to negotiate a larger slice of land.
This would threaten Iraq’s neighbors. Iran would seek means and instruments to protect its western borders and to guarantee its territorial integrity. Turkey would pursue a vigorous policy in its southeastern provinces. The Arab nations, already suspicious of the true reasons of invading Iraq, would accept the word of conspiracy theorists as facts and realities. The resulting psychological atmosphere would doom any effort to democratize the political process in Arab countries. Radical groups’ popularity would rise to new levels unheard of.
Should it happen the worst nightmare of Middle East would materialize. There would be two land locked states deprived of economic means to develop on their own. One would become the perfect environment for Al Qaedeh to grow; the other would be accessible only through air. A third one would have access to sea, but depends for water supply on its northern neighbor. Iran and Turkey would have to pay military bills, which have no contribution whatsoever to regional stability or their own prosperity.
There would not be an easy solution for Baghdad where millions of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds live whose significance is only second to that of Mecca. A partition would have to destroy Baghdad, that Arab nations and Islamic world would neither forgive nor forget.
Economically partition of Iraq would ruin any chance of sustainable growth in the region. Iraq is a potential market for growing economies of Turkey and Iran, where a private sector is coming to age and venturing markets to stay on its own feet independent from government. It has the potential to revive tourism in the region to open the way toward an intense commercial competition. Iraq and Iran together can muster a population of 100 million blessed with the most highly educated work force in the region. Their economic corporation would ignite a path of economic growth that reduces the incentives for violence and shrinks the support for violent insurgency.
Partition of Iraq might be attractive to some seeking a shortcut solution and to those who in instability of this country seek security for others, but it would be a disaster to the region and a true betrayal of the cause of democracy. It is regrettable to remember how the windows of opportunities were missed, how “axis of evil” alienated Iran and how administration assumptions had been totally wrong. But it would be more regrettable if this administration even considers a partition plan. One would think this administration has more than its fair share of mistakes, it is time it has its fair share of solutions; real ones and not that of colonial 19 century British minds.
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