Home Contact Us  
   

Peace & Conflict Database - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4574, 23 July 2014
 

West Asia

Can Iraq's Disintegration be Prevented?
KP Fabian
Former Indian Foreign Service Officer
 

At present, it is difficult to see how the ongoing implosion of Iraq can be stalled and reversed. The world  started taking note of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its leader  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been declared as ‘caliph’ of an  ‘Islamic State’  claiming sovereignty over a stretch of territory from Aleppo in north-western Syria to Diyala in north-eastern Iraq only when Mosul fell on June 20. But, his forces had taken over Raqqa, Syria, in March 2013, and Falluja, Iraq, in January 2014.

ISIL, a breakaway group from al Qaeda in Iraq, is basically a part of the Sunni Resistance to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.  The US had made unsuccessful, half-hearted, and not always judicious attempts to build an Iraq that could accommodate the three main groups: the Shias, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. But, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who took office in 2006 with support from the US and Iran   carried out a policy of alienating the Sunnis and the Kurds. His reckless partisan policies created the conditions for the emergence of a formation called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) to grow and derive support from the Sunni population.

Once the situation in Syria was found favorable, the ISI extended its operations to Syria and changed its name to the ISIL. Levant essentially comprises Syria, Jordan, pre-Israel Palestine, and Lebanon.

The ISIL has approximately $2 billion, weapons mainly of US origin, and many of their men are in US army combat uniforms, even with interceptor body armour. They have Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters. Their manpower comprises young men from Chechnya, UK, France, Jordan and elsewhere who have joined them, reminiscent of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.   

While the ‘caliphate’ might not have the strength to take over Baghdad, the fact remains that it will be enormously difficult for the government in Baghdad,  under al-Maliki or his successor, to recapture the territory already under the control of the ‘caliphate’. This means there is already a Sunnistan in Iraq with a part of Syria also in it.

The Kurds spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran number about 30 million. They have their national ambitions. Saladin the Great who fought the Christians during the Crusades and captured Jerusalem in 1187 was a Kurd. After World War I, the Kurds were promised autonomy under the Treaty of Sevres (1920), but it was never implemented. Following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the US imposed a no-fly zone in Iraqi Kurdistan enabling the Kurds to progressively assert independence from Saddam Hussein’s central government in Baghdad. Under the US occupation, Iraqi Kurds gained further and the current constitution provides for virtual autonomy. There is much tension with al-Maliki who has withheld money from the regional government that dug a pipe line to Ceyhan in Turkey to sell oil, without permission. The first tanker reached Israel recently.

Since the 1960s, Israel has been cultivating the Kurds and now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly endorsed an independent state for Iraqi Kurds. They might hold a referendum soon on independence.

The main reason the US has sent military to Iraq is to ensure safety of its embassy. US President Barack Obama does not want a repeat of the humiliating helicopter escape of its ambassador from Saigon in 1975.  If Baghdad witnesses carnage with Sunnis and Shias killing each other, it will reflect badly on Obama’s performance as commander in chief. The US might not mind a disintegrated Iraq in the long run. Iran too might conclude that it is not worth sacrificing men and money to retain Iraq as a single entity. Thus, Iraq might have a Kurdistan, one or more Sunnistans, and a Shiistan. The Shiistan will remain Iran’s protectorate.

The Arab Spring, when it started in 2011 as a move towards democracy, did not affect India’s interests adversely. India had reasons to welcome a move towards democracy. But when the Spring lost its way, except in Tunisia, and political instability with civil war fuelled by extremist violence and ideology set in, India realised that it had reasons to worry on many counts.

First, there are over 7 million Indians in the Arab world, most of them in the Gulf where currently there is no political instability. The difficulty in arranging for evacuation of 44 nurses from Kerala held up in Tikrit is an example of the problems to be confronted from time to time. India did arrange for evacuating 176,000 of its nationals from Kuwait and Iraq in 1990-1991. Second, the oil prices have shot up forcing an increase in petrol prices, boosting inflation. Third, the worsening Shia-Sunni tension can have an adverse impact on the two groups who have hitherto lived in peace in India. There are reports of some young Shia men wanting to go to Iraq. The government should be able to prevent them from going.

India has no means of influencing the course of events in Iraq or Syria, but that is not exactly India's fault as external intervention has so far only aggravated the crisis. There are about ten thousand Indians in Iraq with the majority in Kurdistan and Basra. Fortunately, there is no immediate danger to them.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Ranjit Gupta,
"India in Iraq: Need for Better Focus," 7 July 2014
Report,
"Contemporary Developments in Syria and Iraq," 7 July 2014

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-EU: Potential Partners in the Emerging World Order?

Forecast 2017: The Future of the European Union

Trump's Strike Against Syria: International Implications

Where is Egypt Headed?

Syrian Foreign Minister in India: Some Answers, Some Questions

The US, Syria and Iraq: The Success of Airstrikes So Far

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.