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Is Iraq doomed?

Jun 30,2014 - Last updated at Jun 30,2014

Iraq is most likely to descend into a civil war. Many would actually argue that the country is already witnessing a civil war along sectarian lines.

Therefore, barring an inclusive political solution, the country may fall apart.

A week ago, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, made it perfectly clear that the multiethnic contested city of Kirkuk will remain in Kurdish hands forever.

The new Kurdish position is the result of the changing reality. With the fight raging for about two weeks and with the central government having lost large swathes of Iraqi territories from under control, a new situation has emerged.

The Sunni revolt has demonstrated the intractable nature of Iraq’s political problems.

In this new environment, the Kurds are stepping up their demands to have a bigger share of the Iraqi pie.

It should not be a surprise if the Kurdish leaders proclaim the independence of Kurdistan in months to come.

Ironically, Iraq’s potential fragmentation along sectarian lines has not yet pushed Iraqi leaders to act differently.

Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is still in denial.

Many Iraq politicians called on him to step down and allow the formation of a more inclusive government, but Maliki is still following Tehran’s orders and therefore is unlikely to budge.

By and large, he is a major part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution.

Unlike his opponents, Maliki believes in the security approach to the conflict, without stepping down or changing his sectarian agendas.

Against this backdrop, US President Barack Obama’s request to Iraqi politicians of different sects to put their house in order and come together is most likely to fall on deaf ears.

As long as Maliki is adopting a winner-take-all policy and as long as Tehran is backing him, a political reconciliation is far from being possible.

Iran has not been a constructive player in Iraq, to say the least. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Tehran has been fully exploiting the new reality in Iraq.

Iran’s continuous meddling in Iraq’s affairs and its sectarian agenda alienated the Sunnis in Iraq.

If this continues unchecked, Sunnis will have no choice but to opt for dividing Iraq.

The idea of dividing Iraq is far from new. In 2006, Joseph Biden, then a senator, suggested the division of Iraq.

To many analysts, the division of Iraq is a fait accompli.
 It is hard to avoid the conclusion that it might be too late to reverse the situation.

Even if Iran helps change Maliki, it will make sure that his successor is equally loyal to Tehran. This will only further enrage and radicalise Sunni Arabs within and without Iraq.

Moreover, the division of Iraq is hardly a solution.

The problem, according to Peter Harling, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, is “the divisive and autocratic and corrupt way power is practised, not the borders”.

Even among the Shiites, there are many complaints against Maliki’s exclusive and autocratic mode of ruling.

For Iraq to be stable again, a political process and genuine reconciliation should be on the front burner.

Equally important, Iraqis should sort their problems away from Iran.
As long as Iran is allowed to meddle in Iraq, the former will be a spoiler.

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