The Corner

Debate on Iraq’s Partition Becoming Moot?

That’s the question posed by an Associated Press report suggesting that while politicians and analysts debate the proper role of federalism in Iraq, with some arguing for formal partition of the country, sectarian violence and emigration is doing the job anyway:

In the 43 months since Saddam Hussein’s ouster, entire Iraqi provinces have become virtually off-limits to one or another sect, mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods are slowly disappearing, and a Kurdish region in the north appears to have all but seceded.

In many ways, Iraq is breaking up, though not in a way in which a well-defined boundary could be established to ensure peace. It is happening amid a debate on whether partitioning this ethnically and religiously diverse nation could provide a way out of the growing sectarian violence tearing it apart.

The writer grants that breaking up Iraq has never enjoyed popular support as a formal proposition, but argues that the facts on the ground suggest just such an outcome, with the Tigris forming a boundary within Baghdad between the Shiite eastern bank and the Sunni western bank. A key point is that one of Mugtada al-Sadr’s thugs thinks partition is God’s preference:

“It will happen, without a doubt,” he said from Mahmoudiyah, where a Shiite militia loyal to al-Sadr has been battling Sunni militants. “God will not punish us for partitioning Iraq, but will certainly punish us for allowing so many Iraqis to die.”


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