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Escobar skrev 2007 [Does it ring a Bell?]


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Does it ring a Bell?

US senators seem to be sufficiently ignorant of the Middle East not to see that partition would set the region on fire. Turkey - a US ally - would be terrified by too much autonomy for Iraqi Kurds (who would be encouraged to help their Kurdish brothers inside Turkey). Saudi Arabia would be alarmed at Iraqi Shi'ites controlling their own, resource-rich, mini-state and enjoying very close relations with Iran. The Iraqi daily Az-Zaman was close to the mark, noting that for the US, Iraq is and will remain a "vassal state". A weak, dismembered Iraq makes sense only in a scenario of the US exercising control, directly or indirectly, meddling in "sovereign" decisions, keeping its "invisible" military bases and profiting from Blackwater USA and assorted mercenaries' services till kingdom come.

Iraq as we know it is a product of Western colonialism. It was invented as a country by Gertrude Bell, T E Lawrence and Harry St John Philby, and established as a Hashemite kingdom in 1921. Very few people know that shortly before she invented her country, Bell met Sayyid Hasan al-Sadr, the great-grandfather of Muqtada al-Sadr and the key religious leader at the time. That's when she finally got the whole picture. She knew this new kingdom would inevitably turn out be a Shi'ite-led theocracy. But that's not what British imperialism wanted. They wanted to control Iraq's oil fields in the north. So Bell came up with the perfect scheme: rule by a Sunni minority, the Shi'ites excluded from power and the Kurds denied their own state. She also knew this fabricated Iraq would never be a democracy.

Whatever imperialist machinations, the fact is that Iraq, over these almost 90 years, has been constituted into a nation - at least for Sunnis and Shi'ites. National pride is an essential trait of the Iraqi character. Partition could be the US scenario towards the Korea model. This means military bases on the ground for decades. It also means - unlike Korea - endless war, because the Sunni Arab resistance (as well as Muqtada's Mahdi Army) will never give up.
Partition could also lead to a Vietnam model. A unified Iraqi resistance eventually wins (it already has almost total popular appeal), topples the government in Baghdad and the US is forced to perform a humiliating remix of the helicopters abandoning Saigon in 1975. The kingdom, then state, created by Bell is no more. Saddam Hussein was basically perpetuating what had been invented in the 1920s. When Bush's troops invaded in 2003, they destroyed not only the regime but the whole state. Bell was indeed a visionary. Liberal democracy in Iraq is virtually impossible. The Shi'ite-led theocracy that British imperialism tried to prevent in the 1920s is back with a vengeance.
But for the moment, all the horrors built into the Bush administration's disaster in Iraq have been able to engender above all a truly horrific process: ongoing, slow-motion ethnic cleansing. Kurdistan will be populated almost exclusively by Kurds. Sunnistan will be poor and resentful, with no oil, and sprinkled with US military bases. Baghdad will be an overwhelmingly Shi'ite city (it used to be majority-Sunni). And Shi'iteistan will be a wealthy beacon of the Shi'ite revival all over the majority Sunni Middle East. This will all be accomplished by overlapping ethnic cleansing.

Now let's see whether any senators are able to at least begin to comprehend the weight of all these implications.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: 
How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War
(Nimble Books, 2007). (Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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