WILL SYRIA AND IRAQ’S STATEHOOD SURVIVE ?
Iraq and Syria may have been permanently torn asunder by sectarian war and tensions, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told an industry conference, said Thursday 09/10/2015 in a frank assessment that is at odds with Obama administration policy.
“I’m having a tough time seeing it come back together,” both of which have seen large chunks territory seized by the Islamic State.
On Iraq, Stewart said he is “wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq,” suggesting he believed it was unlikely. On Syria, he added: “I can see a time in the future where Syria is fractured into two or three parts.”
Although it is not the USA goal, he said, it’s looking increasingly likely.
CIA Director John Brennan, speaking on the same panel noted that the country’s’ borders remain in place, but the governments have lost control of them. A self-declared caliphate by the Islamic State straddles the border between both countries. Iraqis and Syrians now more often identify themselves by tribe or religious sect, rather than by their nationality, he said.
“I think the Middle East is going to be seeing change over the coming decade or two that is going to make it look unlike it did,” Brennan said.
Iraq and Syria were artificial creations of British and French diplomats when the Ottoman Empire disintegrated ( The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 05/16/1916). Each contains communities of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Iraq is now run by a Shiite-dominated government with ties to Iran, while the Bashar Assad government in Syria is dominated by Alawites, also a Shiite sect. They are each fighting Islamic State, a fundamentalist Sunni group. The slogan of I.S.I.S is “ Death to Sykes–Picot “.
The Obama administration’s official policy is that Iraq and Syria remain internationally recognized nation states. Administration officials, for example, have resisted calls, so far, to send arms directly to the Kurds, who have carved out a measure of autonomy in northern Iraq and despite being America’s most loyal and ally in the region. The administration has insisted that arms for the Kurds be routed through the government in Baghdad.
In 2006, then-Sen. Joe Biden argued for splitting Iraq into three autonomous ethnic zones with a limited role for a central government. The George W. Bush administration sought to keep Iraq unified, but Sunnis eventually became disaffected with a Shiite government in Baghdad that excluded them. Kurds have been in continual disputes over budgets and oil with Bagdad, and they have seized control of the strategic northern city of Kirkuk.
In Syria, the Assad government is hanging on with increasing support from Russia, leaving the country divided among government, rebel-held, and Islamic State territory.
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani , warned on Thursday 08/20/2015 that the country faces dire consequences including possible “partition” if real reform is not carried out.
General Raymond Odierno The U.S. Army’s outgoing chief of staff. who once served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and retires Friday 08/13/2015 after nearly 40 years in uniform, warned, during his final press conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday 08/11/2015, that reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is becoming harder and that partitioning the country “ might be the only solution.”
Furthermore the recent military Russian buildup in Syria is a clear effort to protect the Alawite region in Northwestern Syria, on the Mediterranean and possible also the corridor to Damascus but its seems that the Iranians, their proxy the Hizbullah, the Russians and Assad’s regime itself, now controlling about only 16% of Syria, gave up of recapturing the Sunni provinces in the country and to concentrate on protecting the non-Sunni regions of Syria where the minorities are living : the Alawites, Druze and Christians .
Many commentators agree that the recent Turkish military intervention in Iraq is also aiming to prevent the formation of a viable Kurdish State that will inspire the Kurds in Turkey to establish a Kurdish State.
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