Give Them Their Autonomy

UPDATE. 11/15/2015 3:30 PM — Today someone on Fox, I didn’t get his name, actually suggested that what I discuss in this article be done.

Editor’s Comment: I researched and wrote this article some time before 2003. I republishing it again so you can read a bit about the history. I have not edited the original or updated it in any way.

By C Howard Diaz

Since the American Revolution, the purpose of war has been a fight for freedom. Our forefathers declared freedom as an American’s unalienable right.  And as such, have inspired our outlook on protecting or gaining freedom and other human rights for a variety of countries.

The Iraqi conflict isn’t much different. Though there are many factors contributing to U.S. involvement and the desire to oust Saddam Hussein, the underlying result is freedom of oppression for the Iraqi people.

We’ve heard over and over again that the “issue” isn’t with the Iraqi people, but with the regime in power.  So what do the Iraqi people really want?  If they were to help us overthrow the current government without a war, what would take its place? Who would be in control?

Looking back in history, it’s clear that there really isn’t an “Iraqi People”.  After WWI France and Britain arbitrarily divided the spoils[1]– France taking over Lebanon and Syria and Britain gaining the former provinces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which ultimately became Iraq.

The region was made up of the three former provinces of the Ottoman Empire, each with its own religion, culture and way of life that was not necessarily compatible with neighboring provinces.  The three provinces that formed Iraq were controlled by tribes, the Sunni’s, the Shia’s and the Kurds.  The Shia’s and the Sunni’s have hated each other since the year 609. 

During the debate about the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, each province was led to believe that they would gain autonomy over their own kingdom.  The West was content to believe that these Eastern peoples would cooperate and go along with the new boundaries imposed by the greater powers.

The Brits even decided to install a king, King Faisal, who was a friend of Britain and pledged to be loyal.   Britain went so far as to encourage Arab nationalism to help diminish the power of the Ottoman Empire. However, this new Iraqi constituency didn’t necessarily even know they were Iraqi and most did not hold any loyalty to the West.

As time passed no Iraqi nationalism was born. In 1921, Winston Churchill visited Cairo to investigate and saw that all was out of control. He realized the Turks had never dominated these people in all their time of trying and Britain was not having much success either.

In order to control these varying peoples, King Faisal resorted to military control and British military occupation.  However, in 1932 a coup liberated Iraq from British command and established an independent nation.  Control was once again established by Britain and King Faisal returned to power.  When King Faisal died in 1933 his son took over and though he was more anti-Britain, he wasn’t a good politician.

He died shortly thereafter, leaving the throne to an infant son, King Faisal II.  The regent installed to act in place of the young king was pro-British, but again, the army was not. The army led another coup under the leader Rashad Ali who formed his own government and announced allegiance to Germany.

Once again, Britain stepped in and squelched that rebellion. So peace was once again demanded and Iraq was back to a Britain-friendly role, but the country was still full of a discontented people who saw their sovereignty of their kingdoms demolished.  There was much inequity amongst the tribes.

In 1956 the Baghdad Pact with Britain, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran was signed. Shortly after, in 1958 King Faisal II was murdered along with the rest of the royal family by army officers who wanting to start their own republic. The break with Britain was now permanent.

That brings us almost up to date with the Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis still not altogether an “Iraqi People.”  That is why it is an error to say Saddam Hussein gassed his own people.  In his mind the Kurds are not “his people.”  The people of the region come from an ancestry hundreds of years old.  The League of Nations created Iraq to secure oil for Britain and France and in 1932 Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.  To keep these people under a single ruler whether it is a democracy or dictatorship assumes the UN and the rest of the world have that right to do so.

So what should the EU and US do to bring peace to the area after ousting Saddam Hussein?   With infighting amongst themselves, most are not pro-Hussein government.  Hussein is a Sunni, a people who are the fewest in number.  But Sunni’s, Shia’s and Kurds are the people that we must rely upon in hopes of a coup to disintegrate the current regime. And if not, those we must continue relations with once a war is won.

So what do the people in the region want? Same thing they’ve always wanted, autonomy of their kingdoms, the way it was before the Ottoman Empire. Why don’t we give it to them this time?

The present Iraq should be allowed to divide into three separate countries.  Each tribe, the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shias, must have their own country and pay for the cost of the war to those who freed them.  They should be glad to pay with a percentage of their oil revenue’s after they attain their freedom.

[1] This deal was known as the Sykes/Picot agreement named after the British and French men that created the secret division in 1916.

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