Iraq: January 20, 2004

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Whether it's via direct election or caucus, the Iraqi government that takes over in July will represent the interests of the three major Iraqi groups (Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, Indo-European Kurds) and their many factions. The big problem is that few Iraqis think of themselves as Iraqis first, and something else second. Everyone is a Kurd, Arab, Shia or Sunni first and an Iraqi second, third or worse. Sunni Arabs have been top dog for centuries, and the majority Shia are uncertain of how Shia rule will turn out. If experience elsewhere is any example, the Shia will split into factions. This is what Sunni Arabs are expecting, and the Baath Party Sunni Arabs are still fighting with the intention of exploiting divisions among the Shia so that Sunni Arabs can rule again. The Kurds want no part of these Arab squabbles. The Kurds want an Iraq that is something like Canada, with the Kurds having their own Quebec, and the ability to ignore the rest of the country and all those barbarians (Anglos or Arabs, depending on where you are from.) Perhaps noting the constant problems Canada has had with Quebec, the Arabs of Iraq are not eager to grant the Kurds a lot of autonomy. But the Kurds are heavily armed, and have been fighting for their autonomy for thousands of years. Some Kurds reflect on the fact that none of these rebellions has ever succeeded, but most Kurds don't. It's sort of a "tradition versus reality" thing. In the Middle East, tradition usually wins.

 

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