Q&A Friday #73: The 3 State Solution In Iraq

Question: “I’m sure you’ve heard the proposed 3-state “solution” to Iraq, in which the country would be separated into three autonomous nations: Shia, Sunni and Kurdish. Do you think that this idea is actually feasible? Do you see any possible parallels between this action and the division of Yugoslavia after the fall of the USSR?” — Good_Ol_Boy

Answer: There are some very intelligent people who think that this is what we should be doing in Iraq, but I’m really leery of the whole idea for a number of reasons.

First of all, a lot of the problems in the Middle-East today were caused by Western nations arbitrarily setting the boundaries of regions and states. There’s just not much in the track record that the West has in that region that inspires me to want to try it again.

Secondly, a lot of Iraq is not neatly cleaved into Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish regions. You’ve got mixed neighborhoods and you’ve got intermarriage between Sunnis and Shias. So, what do you do? Say, if you’re Kurdish and living in Basra, do you have to sell your house or be driven out at gunpoint? Where does a Sunni man married to a Shia woman live? In the Sunni state or the Shia state? It would be extremely difficult to partition Iraq like this.

Moreover, it would not stop the violence. You do have Sunnis in Al-Qaeda murdering other Sunnis that won’t cooperate with them. You do have Shia militias murdering people that won’t cooperate with them. You have criminals murdering anyone they can to make a buck. To be honest, the problems appear to be more with the terrorists, gangs, and militias than they do with the average citizen on the street.

Also, consider the consequences of the split. Turkey would feel very threatened by the existence of a Kurdish state and it would likely lead to long-term problems between those two nations. The Sunni state would be bitter because they had no oil and it could very easily turn into an Al-Qaeda state within a state. Then there’s the Shia state, which would likely end up becoming a satellite of Iran. So, long-term, we could have a lot more problems with three states there instead of one.

With all that in mind, I just don’t think that splitting Iraq into three states would be a good idea.

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