CONTINUING CRISIS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN, THE

CONTINUING CRISIS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN, THE

Gunter, Michael M

An artificial state cobbled together by British imperialism following World War I,1 Iraq may well prove to be a failed state. The interim constitution – known as the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL)2 – promulgated on March 8, 2004, for a democratic federal Iraq, has proven to be largely stillborn, given the majority Shiites’ insistence on what they see as their right to unfettered majority rule. Thus, U.N. security Council Resolution 1546 of June 8, 2004, which authorized Iraq’s new interim government, failed even to mention the TAL and federalism as a solution for the Iraqi Kurdish problem. Grand Ayatollah AIi al-Sistani, the de facto Shiite leader and spokesman, in general felt that the TAL should not tie the hands of the Iraqi parliament to be elected in January 2005 and specifically objected to Article 61(c) in the TAL, which gave the Kurds an effective veto over the final constitution, to be adopted late in 2005.

In addition, the U.S. occupation further consolidated ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq, while “divide and rule” became a useful instrument to govern the resulting shapeless society. Thus, many Turks and Arabs believe that the United States aims at the breakup of Iraq into its three main ethnic and religious groups by supporting an independent Kurdish state. Indeed, U.S. policies have highlighted the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq and institutionalized them at the highest level. The perceived Kurdish bias in U.S. policy toward Iraq has been the major source of concern both in Turkey and the Arab world because U.S. policies did not seem to be unifying Iraq or creating a citizenship-based society. Rather, the United States seemed to prefer to govern on the basis of ethnic and religious divisions. This has been seen as resulting in a sharp increase in ethnic and religious hatred in Iraq.

Today many Arabs and Muslims consider the Kurds collaborators for having supported the United States in the 2003 war. Especially after the events in Fallujah, many in the Arab media even accused the Kurdish peshmerga of being American mercenaries trying to subdue the Arab people. On the other hand, many Kurds see the Arabs as chauvinistic nationalists who oppose Kurdish rights because they would end up detaching territory from the Arab patrimony. The future of Iraq, moreover, has become even more uncertain given the virulent insurgency against the interim Iraqi government and its U.S. ally.

The purpose of this brief article is to analyze the continuing political and social crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan. Specifically, it will examine the debate over federalism and independence and how these questions concern neighboring countries such as Turkey. Finally, the article will conclude with policy recommendations for all concerned parties.

BACKGROUND

Into the first half of the nineteenth century, the traditional decentralized Ottoman state and millet system of religious communities, in effect, offered the various nations of the Ottoman Empire autonomy.3 Some might see this millet system as a type of indigenous embryonic federalism. At the end of the 188Os, however, the Ottoman Empire began to centralize in an attempt to modernize itself and stave off the Western onslaught.4 This process of centralization eliminated the autonomy long enjoyed by the Kurdish emirates.5

Following World War I, modernization policies continued with the demise of the empire and the development of modern states in Turkey, Iran, Iraq6 and Syria. The price to be paid, however, was a highly centralized state and government that sought to assimilate its minorities.7 This process, which had no place for a Kurdish identity, has been termed “official nationalism”:

The leaders of the most powerful nations . . . impose[d] their nationality on all their subjects – of whatever religion, language or culture…. As they saw it,… they were strengthening their state by creating within it a single homogeneous nation.8

Indeed, in Iraq the Baathist state of Saddam Hussein eventually unleashed a genocidal assault on its Kurdish minority in the guise of its so-called Anfal campaign of chemical warfare and mass murder.9

Only Iraq’s defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, and the subsequent provision of a safe haven protected by a no-fly zone, enabled a de facto Kurdish state to emerge in northern Iraq with the support of the United States and the United Kingdom.10 No one, however, recognized this de facto state, because it threatened to destabilize the existing regional state system.” Despite the relative prosperity it began to enjoy after 1997 from its 13 percent of Iraq’s renewed oil sales, the future of this de facto Kurdish state ironically depended upon Saddam Hussein’s remaining in power. Once he was gone, it was unlikely the United States would continue to protect it from a post-Saddam Iraqi government.12 Indeed, the United States and the regional states all insisted that Iraq’s territorial integrity be protected. There would be no independent Kurdish state. Turkey even declared that any attempt to implement such a state would be a casus belli.

Faced with such harsh realities, the Iraqi Kurds turned to federalism as their best realistic hope in a post-Saddam Iraq. If some type of federalism is going to work, however, the Iraqi Kurds and their fellow Arab Iraqi citizens are going to have to learn how to implement what by definition would be a complicated and sophisticated division and sharing of powers between a central (national or federal) government and its regional (state) components. Moreover, the pluralism implicit in federalism would have to depend on a deeply imbued democratic ethos Iraqis lacked. Despite the partial democratic edifice they had built after 1991, for example, even the Iraqi Kurds fell into internecine conflict between 1994 and 1998. In the end, therefore, most Iraqi Arabs viewed federalism as simply another step toward the Kurdish independence they feared and would not accept.

Over the years, Baathist Iraq had supposedly countenanced a wide range of attitudes toward the Iraqi Kurds’ relationship with the rest of Iraq.13 Yet, even when the Baathists spoke about the Kurds as a nation (qawm) possessing national rights and aspirations, they were careful to declare that these rights were given to a people, not to the territory, because rights to the territory implied secession. In addition, these rights were given by proclamation (bayari) rather than agreement (ittifaq). This choice of terms meant that the Baathist state was the sole sovereign power unilaterally awarding certain privileges to the Kurds and thus, of course, could withdraw them at any time.

Finally, the designation Kurdistan (usually employed by the Kurds when referring to their geographical homeland) was seldom used by the Baathists. Instead, the Baathists used such terms as the region, zone, northern region, our north or the autonomous area. For their part, the Kurds have strongly objected to the concept of Iraq being part of a panArab union because this would reduce them to being an obscure minority. The proper way to visualize Iraq would be as consisting of two parts, Iraqi Kurdistan and Arab Iraq. Only the latter would be part of the Arab union or homeland.

FEDERALISM: THE THEORY

Federalism is a form of government in which power is divided and shared between the central (national or federal) government and the constituent (state or regional) governments. Individuals are citizens of both the central and constituent governments, and they elect at least some parts of both governments. A federal form of government is covenantal. This means that the authority of each level of government -central and constituent – derives from the constitution, not from the other level of government. Thus, neither level of government can take away the powers of the other. As such, federalism would most likely require a written constitution that upholds the constitutional rights of each level of government and provides a means of adjudicating differences between them.

There are many different variations of federalism. Some are majoritarian; they do not constrain the overall majority living throughout the entire country. Such federal systems would also tend to be mononational; they seek to impose one single national standard upon the entire population living under the central government. Despite recent lip service to ethnic diversity, for example, the U.S. federal system was clearly established on a mono-national basis, because of the relatively homogeneous character of its original population (minus, of course, the African slaves and American Indians).

Adeed and Karen Dawisha have argued that the new Iraqi federation should be built around the preexisting 18 provinces or governorates of Baathist Iraq.14 Donald L. Horowitz maintains that such an arrangement would tend to dilute the strength of any one ethnic group by creating constituent governments that would encourage interethnic cooperation.15 Such an arrangement, however, would be certain to be opposed by the Iraqi Kurds, who would see their very national existence diluted by it. Rather, the Iraqi Kurds would seemingly seek some form of ethnic or multinational federalism, which would allow them to pursue their ethnic identity.

As a national minority, clearly the Iraqi Kurds would not want to establish a majoritarian, mono-national federalism within Iraq. The Arab or Shiite majority, if it so chose, then would be in a position to threaten the Kurdish political, cultural, linguistic and/or economic identities. Rather, as noted above, the Iraqi Kurds would be favored by a multinational or multiethnic federal system. Given the central government’s repressive track record in Iraq, it also would be to the Kurds’ advantage, of course, to establish a central Iraqi government with precise, limited powers, while constitutionally guaranteeing themselves a maximum amount of public-policy-making power on the regional level.

AIi Allawi has suggested that the prospective Iraqi federal system include five regional units, each with its own parliament and executive: 1 ) Kurdistan; 2) Mosul and Jazira; 3) Karbala, Hilla and Najaf; 4) Basra and Nasiriyya; and 5) the federal capital of Baghdad and maybe part of Diyala.16 Such an arrangement would seem to include both aspects of a multiand mono-national federal system, thus offering a compromise to the adherents of each separate proposal. Each regional unit would exercise almost all domestic powers while being funded out of a percentage of oil revenues distributed directly to each region based on population. The national or federal government also would have a parliament and presumably an executive but would be responsible only for interregional affairs, foreign policy, defense, money and banking. It also would have the constitutional responsibility for protecting the rights of minorities such as the Turkmens and Christians.

Unfortunately for the Iraqi Kurds, however, Iraq’s influential neighbor, Turkey, fears the demonstration effect on its own restless Kurds of any Kurdish entity on the Turkish border. The most Turkey seems willing to grant is some type of provincial administrative federalism based on a variation of that proposed by the Dawishas above. Such an arrangement would tend to dilute Kurdish ethnic strength and its perceived challenge to Turkey. Turkey also has argued that geographic federalism would dampen ethnic animosities that might be aroused by ethnic federalism by encouraging multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian civic nationalism.17

Based on the above, it is clear that the mono-national U.S. federal system would not be to the advantage of the Iraqi Kurds. Instead, the Iraqi Kurds would be favored by a multi-national or ethnic federal system. Switzerland and Canada, currently two of the world’s oldest states, are examples of functioning multi-national federations. In recent years, however, other multinational federations have either disintegrated or failed to protect democratic rights. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Ethiopia are prime examples.18 In the Middle East, even the mono-national United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria lasted only from 1958 to 1961, while the United Arab Emirates clearly is neither a multi-national federation nor a democracy.

Federacy

Although the Kurds seek to enter a multi-national federal system in Iraq, they cannot impose such a federation upon unwilling partners. A federacy might be an imaginative solution to this problem. Under such a system, Iraqi Kurdistan could enter a federal arrangement with the central Iraqi government, while the rest of the country would not be federally organized. Federacy might satisfy the Kurds’ desire for federalism, while accommodating the Arabs’ wish to maintain elements of a unitary state.

WILL FEDERALISM WORK?

The best laid plans, of course, can fail to materialize. As Liam Anderson and Gareth Stansfield have noted, Iraq lacks a democratic tradition. For one to develop requires the existence of an implicit consensus on the legitimacy of the underlying order and trust on the part of the minority that the majority will not abuse its power. These, however, are the very ingredients that have “been in pitifully short supply” in modern Iraq.19 Moreover, as already noted, federalism is a sophisticated division and sharing of power between a central government and its constituent parts that would probably require a democratic ethos for its successful operation. Trying to establish federalism in Iraq before that state is able to imbue a democratic tradition may be placing the cart before the horse.

Advocates of a federal solution for the Kurds of post-Saddam Iraq might draw at least five lessons from recent multinational federations that have failed:20

* A successful Iraqi federation must be a voluntary arrangement, not one regarded as imposed by the United States or some other outside power. Thus, the federation must be ratified by its various constituent parts. For the Kurds, this must mean a free referendum within Iraqi Kurdistan. The fact that an unofficial but democratically held referendum in February 2004 almost unanimously opted instead for independence illustrates the inherent difficulties federalism faces among the Kurds, not to mention the Arabs, many of whom resent any challenge to their territorial patrimony.

* A federal Iraq must be democratic with the full panoply of liberal democratic rights and institutions so egregiously lacking in Iraq’s history.

* Constructive relations based on mutual trust and recognition must be built among the Kurds, Turkmens, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs, as well as the smaller minorities of Christians and others. Although developments within the Kurdish region since 1991 offer some encouragement for implementing this requirement, even here the intra-Kurdish warfare that occurred between 1994 and 1998, not to mention the long history of hostile relationships with the rest of Iraq, offers strong doubts.

* Although oil and water resources as well as educational traditions would seem to offer some hope regarding economic distributive possibilities, much new ground will have to be developed before one might reasonably hope for the implementation of success on this score too.

* There must be strong constitutional guarantees with accepted judicial conflictsettlement procedures to prevent efforts to sabotage the federal arrangement in favor of an authoritarian centralization. In the end, therefore, there must be an accepted default mechanism that would allow the Kurdistan constituent region to opt for independence if its constitutional status in a federal Iraq is challenged. However, this independence will not solve the problem; it might raise political, human and economic costs for the region. Some type of international protection through a treaty sanctioned by the United Nations with U.S. support would probably be highly important on this score. Given the failure of attempts to guarantee Kurdish rights in Iraq via international pacts in the past, such legal devices remain problematic. The United States is less likely to become the protector of the Kurdish autonomy vis-à-vis millions of Arabs, Persians and Turks. It is neither rational nor possible for the United States to become the protector of any group in Iraq.

Kurdish divisions, most noticeably between the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have up to now been glossed over with the easy assumption that the two will somehow end their long struggle and join forces to create a Kurdistan federal state.21 A close study of history and the current situation, however, might quickly disabuse one of such notions. Indeed, their inveterate competition and disunity spilled over into a bloody civil war during the mid-1990s, and many underlying divisions still remain. Both warring sides of Barzani and Talabani asked Turkey to send military forces as peacekeepers. Serendipitously, “the divided system that emerged in the summer of 1996 allowed the KDP and PUK to govern the region without the problems of internal competition, and without antagonising the neighbours.”22 Might some type of federalism that gave separate institutional recognition to these two separate Kurdish statelets within an independent Kurdistan be the ironic answer to their disunity?

LEADING

Leadership

A number of other problems face a prospective Kurdish federal state. As mentioned above, an unofficial referendum in February 2004 almost unanimously called for independence despite the opposition of the KDP and PUK leaders, who argued that independence would not be practical. In maintaining this position, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani run the risk of losing control of the Kurdish “street” and thus their long-term grip on power. Indeed, in October 2004,Talabani apparently was obliged to share more of his authority within the PUK by an internal party conclave following an apparent dispute between him and the next two senior PUK leaders (Kosrat Rasoul and Nechirvan Mustafa Amin) over their position in Baghdad when dealing with the United States. As for the KDP, Nechirvan Idris Barzani, nephew of KDP leader Massoud Barzani, has clearly emerged as his heir apparent. Given the volatility of events, it remains to be seen whether these two mainline parties and leaders can continue to maintain their positions.

In an effort to maintain their control of events, the KDP and PUK joined 15 other smaller Kurdish groups to form a single list of candidates for the seats to be chosen both in the Iraqi national and Kurdish regional elections scheduled for January 30, 2005. The two main Kurdish parties argued that such a single list would avoid splintering the potential Kurdish strength when no Arab electoral group offered to support Kurdish demands. What was not as readily admitted, however, was that such a single list would be most likely to guarantee the continuing dominance of the KDP and PUK because those chosen for the two parliaments would be the KDP and PUK candidates placed highest on the single all-Kurdish list.

Kirkuk

Kirkuk is situated along the line where the Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen populations of Iraq meet. It also possesses incredibly large oil reserves. The Iraqi government and the Kurds have never been able to agree on whether or not it should be included in a Kurdish autonomous region. The uncompromising position Barzani and Talabani seem to be taking on Kirkuk’s being part of Kurdistan is probably at least in part a result of their fear of losing control of the Kurdish “street,” which considers Kirkuk to be the Kurdish “Jerusalem.”

Kirkuk voted against Faisal becoming king of Iraq during the referendum of 1921. Turkey also claimed it until the League of Nations finally handed it over to Iraq as part of the former Ottoman vilayet of Mosul, in 1926. Indeed, the 1957 census indicated that Kirkuk city (as distinguished from Kirkuk province or governorate) had a slightly larger Turkman (39.8 percent) than Kurdish (35.1 percent) population. The Arabs (23.8 percent) constituted only the third-largest group. The 1957 census, however, also showed that Kirkuk province had a Kurdish majority of 55 percent, while the Arabs numbered only 30.8 percent and the Turkmens 14.2 percent.23

During the 1960s and 1970s, Kirkuk was perhaps the most important point of disagreement between Mulla Mustafa Barzani (Massoud Barzani’s legendary late father) and the Iraqi government. Illustrating how strongly he felt about the issue, the elder Barzani reputedly declared that even if a census showed that the Kurds were only a minority in Kirkuk, he would still claim it. Showing his ultimately poor judgment on the matter, Barzani also stated that he would allow the United States to exploit its rich oil fields if the United States would support him. Thus, the Iraqi Arabs had reason to believe that, given the Kurdish links to the United States and Israel, handing Kirkuk to the Kurds, in effect, would be giving it and its rich oil reserves to the United States and Israel.

Because of its oil and geostrategic location, Kirkuk’s Kurdish majority was diluted over the decades by Saddam Hussein’s Arabization policies so that today the city has roughly equal populations of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, as well as a considerable number of Christians. Indeed, the census taken in 1977 showed that Kirkuk province had an Arab plurality of 44.41 percent, while the Kurds numbered 37.53 percent and the Turkmens 16.31 percent.24 Saddam Hussein accomplished this demographic shift by expelling and killing many Kurds, replacing them with Arab settlers, and gerrymandering the province’s boundaries. The Iraqi government even officially renamed Kirkuk as Tamim (Nationalization), supposedly in honor of the nationalization of the oil fields in 1972.

In a theoretical victory for the Kurdish position, Article 58 of the TAL declared that, the Iraqi Transitional Government … shall act expeditiously to take measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime’s practices in altering the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling individuals from their places of residence, forcing migration in and out of the region, settling individuals alien to the region, depriving the inhabitants of work, and correcting nationality.

The TAL, however, was not able to settle on a time schedule for implementing these decisions, speaking only of “a reasonable period of time” and declaring, “the permanent resolution of disputed territories, including Kirkuk, shall be deferred until… a fair and transparent census has been conducted and the permanent constitution has been ratified.”

Although tens of thousands of Kurds have returned to Kirkuk and filed claims for homes and property lost when they were expelled, no claims have been settled as of the start of 2005. As for taking a census, the Kurds, of course, argue that one should only be taken after all the expelled Kurds have been allowed to return to Kirkuk and the Arab newcomers returned to their original homes. To summarily oust the new Arab population after it has lived in Kirkuk for some 30 years, however, would simply create new injustices. In addition, the Turkish military has suggested that it would take it only 18 hours to reach Kirkuk if the Kurds insisted on tampering with the city’s population to their own benefit and to the detriment of the Turkmens.25 On the cusp where most of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian divisions meet, Kirkuk is a microcosm of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian tensions and a likely place for a possible civil war to be ignited, especially given the lack of any group, including most noticeably the Kurds, with a desire to compromise on its maximal demands.

Tentative Conclusion

Based on the above analysis, it would be very difficult for the Kurds to obtain the type of federalism that will satisfy their demands. Moreover, even if the Kurds were able to achieve some type of meaningful federalism in theory, in the final version of the new constitution, Iraq’s lack of a democratic culture would make actual federalism very difficult to implement.

INDEPENDENCE?

If, for any of the reasons analyzed above, a federal Iraq proves impossible to construct, many Kurds have asked rhetorically, why not an independent Kurdish state? What would be so sacred about the territorial integrity of a failed state like Iraq that was becoming increasingly unstable?26 Indeed, within the past decade, both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have broken up into numerous new states. Earlier, Singapore split off from Malaysia, Bangladesh from Pakistan, and, more recently, Eritrea from Ethiopia and East Timor from Indonesia. The United Nations also has in the past officially approved selfdetermination for the Palestinians27 and the black South African majority.28

Why do the Arabs so rightfully demand a state for the Palestinians but still deny one for the Kurds? Why do the Turks demand self-determination for the Turkish Cypriots but question the same for the Iraqi Kurds? Until legitimate Kurdish rights are satisfied, the Kurdish issue will increasingly destabilize the Middle East.

The Iraqi Kurds, however, would be well-advised to proceed only with the consent of the United States, Turkey and the other involved regional neighbors; without their consent, an independent Iraqi Kurdistan would prove impossible to sustain, for obvious geopolitical reasons. The first step to achieve this seemingly impossible objective is for the Iraqi Kurds to be seen giving their all in trying to make a democratic federal Iraq work. Only if such an Iraq proves impossible to achieve will the Iraqi Kurds then be seen as having the right, in the name of a stability that also would benefit the United States and neighboring countries, to move towards independence.

The Iraqi Kurds must realize, however, that the fear of partition or Kurdish secessionism drives Turkey’s foreign policy towards Iraq, in general, and the Kurds, in particular. Turkey’s evolving policy (which, in effect, means no policy) is based on three principles: the elimination of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from Iraq and Turkey, the prevention of Kurdish statehood or ethnic federation in Iraq in the name of maintaining the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq, and the protection of the newly “discovered” Turkman minority in Iraq. Therefore, Turkey fiercely resists Kurdish control of the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, where a large number of the Turkmens live.

Thus, the Iraqi Kurds must convince Turkey and the other concerned states that in return for their support of Iraqi Kurdish independence, an independent Iraqi Kurdistan would not foment rebellion among the Kurds in neighboring states either directly or indirectly. These states’ guarantee of an independent Iraqi Kurdish state would be a powerful incentive for the Iraqi Kurds to satisfy them on this point. Furthermore, the Iraqi Kurds must proceed in a manner that their neighbors, including the Iraqi Arabs, Turkey and Iran, would perceive to be fair to them. This will mean compromise on the maximalist Kurdish demand for oil-rich Kirkuk as the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In addition, the Iraqi Kurds should encourage Turkey’s begrudging democratic reforms, which will help lead to eventual Turkish membership in the European Union (EU) and thus help solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey without secession. If Turkey joins the EU, its fears about Iraqi Kurdistan would most likely abate since EU membership would guarantee Turkish territorial integrity. Furthermore, once Turkey joins the EU, the influence of the Turkish military on political decisions regarding such issues as the Iraqi Kurds would diminish, a work already in progress as Turkey’s EU candidacy proceeds. A more civilian-directed Turkish government within the EU would be less likely to fear an independent Iraqi Kurdistan.

On the other hand, if Turkey were kept out of the EU, Turkey would be more likely to continue to view the Kurdish issue through traditional national-security lenses and therefore oppose an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Cast adrift from the EU and the United States, Turkey would be more likely to seek succor from Syria and Iran, both of which remain very hostile to any concept of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan.

The stability achieved by an independent Iraqi Kurdistan supported by Turkey would also encourage stronger economic relations between the two. These relations have been suffering for years because of the instability caused by Iraq’s wars against Iran and the United States, as well as the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq, which have hurt Turkey. Improved economic relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds would, in turn, benefit the Kurds in Turkey, who so badly need a better economic situation.

In conclusion, Turkey should come to realize that as the more powerful partner by far, it would become the natural leader and protector of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan, a state that would also serve as a buffer between Turkey and any lingering instability to the south. Historic Turkish fears of a Kurdish puppet state are anachronistic and will only help create a selffulfilling prophecy. The late Turkish president Turgut Ozal’s imaginative initiatives towards the Kurds during the early 199Os illustrate that these arguments concerning Turkish-Kurdish cooperation are not divorced from reality.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

It would seem unlikely that the Iraqi Kurds will be able to achieve the type of federalism they seek, considering the lack of a democratic culture in Iraq and the inability of Iraq’s various groups to agree upon their joint future. Given this situation, the United States should realize that its ability to remake Iraq is limited. It also means that the United States should not seek to become the protector of just the Iraqi Kurds; this would turn the Arabs, Turks and Iranians against the United States. It also would result in never-ending economic, human and political costs for the United States. With today’s technology, the United States can continue to play a leading role in Iraq without maintaining actual bases on the ground.29

The United States had a very positive standing in Turkey due to the Cold War and U.S. support for the Muslim communities in the Balkans. This pro-American public opinion, however, has been diminishing as a result of U.S. policies in Iraq. The United States failed to understand Turkey’s sensitivity on the Kurdish question. Some powerful U.S. lobbies, especially the neoconservatives, even seemed to want to create an independent Iraqi Kurdish state. The United States began making competing commitments to the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks at the same time. A clearer, more forthright U.S. policy is needed based on an evenhanded policy towards all ethnic and religious groups. The maximalist goals of any one group must be discouraged.

This will most likely result in a future Iraq dominated by the Shiites. However, it also will be an Iraq in limbo, at least for the coming decade, because the Shiites will not be able to impose their will on the rest of Iraq. This means that, in practice, the Kurds and Sunnis will enjoy a great deal of autonomy or de facto federalism despite all that has been said above about the problems in implementing de jure federalism. What longer-term prospects develop will depend on how well this de facto federal Iraq serves the needs of its different groups and is accepted by its neighbors.

1 On this point, see Toby Dodge, Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

2 For a copy of the Transitional Administrative Law, see http://www.cpa-iraq.org/government/TAL.html.

3 In general, see Kemal Karpat, An Enquiry into the Social Foundations of Nationalism in the Ottoman State: From Social Estates to Classes, from Millets to Nations (Princeton: Center of International Studies, 1973); Halil Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age. 1300-1600 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973); Stanford Shaw and Ezel Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. II: Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 1805-1917 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977); M. Hakan Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity in Turkey (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); and more specifically, see Paul White, Primitive Rebels or Revolutionary Modernizers? The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey (London: Zed Books, 2000), pp. 56-57.

4 Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, second edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1968).

5 David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London: I.B. Tauris, 1966), pp. 38-65.

6 For a detailed history of modern Iraq’s earlier decades, see Stephen H. Longrigg, Iraq, 1900 to 1950: A Political, Social, and Economic History (London: Oxford University Press, 1953). More recently, see Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq, second edition (Boulder: Westview Press, 2004); and Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, second edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). For further background, see Majid Khadduri, Socialist Iraq: A Study in Iraqi Politics since 1968 (Washington: The Middle East Institute, 1978); and Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett, Iraq since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship (London: Kegan Paul International, 1987).

7 For an excellent discussion of this point, see Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict: Shadows of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). pp. 156-95.

8 Hugh Seton-Watson, Nations and States: An Enquiry into the Origins of Nations and the Politics of Nationalism (Boulder: Westview Press, 1977), p. 148. For more important work on how modern states have sought to create nations, see Ernest Gellner, Thought and Change (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1964); and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991).

9 Human Rights Watch/Middle East, Iraq’s Crime of Genocide: The Anfal Campaign against the Kurds (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995); and Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993), pp. 151-99. Also see Samir al-Khalil (Kanan Makiya), Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

10 For a discussion, see Michael M. Gunter, The Kurds of Iraq: Tragedy and Hope (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992), pp. 49-95.

11 Michael M. Gunter, The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 111-26; Gareth R. V. Stansfield, Iraqi Kurdistan: Political Development and Emergent Democracy (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); and Kerim Yildiz, The Kurds in Iraq: The Past, Present and Future (London and Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2004).

12 Michael M. Gunter. “United States Foreign Policy toward the Kurds,” Orient. Vol. 40, September 1999, p. 433.

13 The following discussion is largely based on Ofra Bengio, Saddam’s World: Political Discourse in Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 109-20.

14 Adeed Dawisha and Karen Dawisha, “How to Build a Democratic Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 3, May/June 2003, pp. 36-50.

15 Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985),

pp. 563-652.

16 AIi Allawi, “Federalism.” Iraq Since the Gulf War: Prospects for Democracy, ed. Fran Hazelton (London and New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd., 1994), p. 219.

17 For further analysis, see M. Hakan Yavuz, “Provincial not Ethnic Federalism in Iraq,” Middle East Policy, Vol. 11, Spring 2004, pp. 126-31.

18 For background analyses, see Ronald L. Watts, Comparing Federal Systems in the 1990s (Kingston: Ontario: Institute of Intergovernmental Relations/Queen’s University. 1996); Ursula K. Hicks, Federalism, Failure and Success: A Comparative Study (London: Macmillan, 1978); and Thomas M. Franck, Why Federations Fail: An Inquiry into the Requisites for Successful Federation (New York: New York University Press, 1968).

19 Liam Anderson and Gareth Stansfield, The Future of Iraq: Dictatorship, Democracy or Division? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 10.

20 The following discussion is based largely on cogent points made by Brendan O’Leary, “Multi-National Federalism, Federacy, Power-Sharing & the Kurds of Iraq,” paper presented to the conference on “MultiNationalism, Power-Sharing and the Kurds in a New Iraq,” George Washington University, Washington, DC, September 12, 2003, pp. 13-18.

21 Nihat AIi Ozcan, “Could a Kurdish State Be Set Up in Iraq,” Middle East Policy, Vol. 11, Spring 2004, pp. 119-122.

22 Stansfield, Iraqi Kurdistan, p. 175.

23 Directorate of Population, Ministry of Interior, Iraq’s General Statistical Census for 1957.

24 Nouri Talabani, Mantikat Kirkuk Wa Muhawalat Taghyeer Wakiiha Al-Kuwmy [The Kirkuk District and Attempts at Changing Its National Reality] (London: 1999), p. 81.

25 “Military Issues Dire Warning on Iraq,” Briefing (Ankara), November 8, 2004, p. 11.

26 see, for example, Ralph Peters, “Break Up Iraq Now!” New York Post, July 10, 2003; Leslie H. GeIb, “The Three-State Solution,” The New York Times, November 25, 2003; Peter W. Galbraith, “How to Get Out of Iraq,” New York Review of Books, May 13, 2004; and Christopher Catherwood, “Everything about Iraq Says: Chop It in Three,” The Times of London, December 26, 2004.

27 see, for example, U.N. General Assembly Resolutions 2672 C (XXV), in U.N. Chronicle, 1971, No. 1, p. 46; 3236 (XXIX), in U.N. Chronicle, 1974, No. 11, pp. 36-74; and 33/23, in U.N. Chronicle, 1978, No, I 1, p. 80.

28 see, for example, U.N. General Assembly Resolutions 2396 (XXIII). in U.N. Chronicle, 1969, No. 1, p. 94; and 31/61, in U.N. Chronicle, 1976, No. 1, p. 79.

29 For further arguments along these lines, see Edward N. Luttwak, “Iraq: The Logic of Disengagement,” Foreign Affairs. Vol. 84, No. 1, January/February 2005. Also see the pessimistic warnings in Peter W. Galbraith, “Iraq; The Bungled Transition,” The New York Review of Books, September 23, 2004; and Douglas Jehl, “2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq’s Path,” The New York Times, December 7, 2004.

Dr. Gunter is professor of political science at the Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville; Dr. Yavuz is associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

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