Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iraq Is No More Because It Was Never Meant to Be

Iraq Will Be No More because It Never Was. Iraq is violently splitting into three as it was sadly meant to. Egypt and Iran (Persia) are historic countries, the outer boundaries of which may have fluctuated somewhat over the centuries, but they represent a historic, cultural core. The modern day Turkey is the compact successor to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Much of the rest of the Mideast, as with parts of Europe, was carved out of the collapse of 4 empires during World War I: Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian. Churchill led the way in defining the new boundaries, which did not necessarily reflect history, ethnicity, culture, or religion. Many of these countries do not exist today. For some, such as Czechoslovakia the breakup was peaceful. For others, such as Yugoslavia, genocidal wars erupted. New countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, with little historic basis emerged from World War I. One large ethnicity, the Muslim Kurds, was excluded from the nation creation. The Kurds straddle four countries, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. They expected an independent Kurdistan, but got nothing. They have also been periodically engaged in guerilla warfare against the Turkish government since the 1920’s. The Kurds fight. The internal tensions in some countries were a tinderbox ready to explode in the future. That future is now. Lebanon still has its borders, but has been violently explosive since the Eisenhower Administration. Two countries, Yugoslavia and Iraq, were held together by strong, ruthless dictators. Tito and Hussein are no longer, and neither are their countries. The Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is the Cradle of Civilization, but no boundaries existed for the successive peoples who populated the area. Three peoples, the Sunni Muslims, the Shite Muslims, and the Kurds were thrown together by the League of Nations in 1920 as Iraq. A rough demographic breakdown shows the Kurds concentrated in the north, the Sunnis in the west, and the Shi’a in the south with large numbers of each residing in the major cities. Great Britain received a League of Nations mandate over the country. England ruled through the Sunnis. It granted independence to Iraq in 1932 appointing a Sunni royal family to lead the country. The monarchy was overthrown in 1958 with Saddam Hussein assuming power in a subsequent takeover. Sunnis governed the country, often brutally, until his regime was toppled in 2003 eventhough they are a minority population with estimates of 20-35% of the population with the remainder being Shi’a. The Shi’a chafed under the Sunni dictatorships. They unsuccessfully rebelled at the end of the first Gulf War while the Kurds rebelled in the north. The Shi'a chance came through the ballot box when they obtained majority control of the government. The Shi’a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has governed like many two-bit wannabe dictators (absent the secret police executions). He has blatantly discriminated against the Sunnis and Kurds while consolidating decision making and power in his hands. Iraq could not remain one under these circumstances. The fissures were evident with sectarian violence even when the United States military controlled Iraq. Inspired leadership might have smoothed the fractional waters, but the Mideast is not known for wise, inspired leadership. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians have made peace over the centuries. Not so much so with Sunni and Shi’a. The Sunnis through a radical Islamist have taken control of much of the Sunni countryside and cities. They will stop show of Baghdad, at least for now. They still lack the power to capture the city from the Shi'a. This Sunni resurgence is tragic. First is the breakup of Iraq in the hands of Islamicists imposing radical Islam on the people in Syria and Iraq. The people of western Iraq will regret it shortly. Second, their eyes are into expanding through out the Mideast into a caliphate of radical Islam and into attacking the United States. America's tragedy is that President Obama is blind.

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