June 20th, 2014
12:52 AM ET

An enclave strategy for Iraq

By Fareed Zakaria

Can Iraq hold together? It’s worth examining what is happening in that country through a broader prism. If you had looked at the Middle East 15 years ago, you would have seen a string of strikingly similar regimes — from Libya and Tunisia in the west to Syria and Iraq in the east. They were all dictatorships. They were all secular, in the sense that they did not derive their legitimacy from religious identity. Historically, they had all been supported by outside powers — first the British and French, then the superpowers — which meant that these rulers worried more about pleasing patrons abroad than currying favor at home. And they had secure borders.

Today, across the region, from Libya to Syria, that structure of authority has collapsed and people are reaching for their older identities — Sunni, Shiite, Kurd. Sectarian groups, often Islamist, have filled the power vacuum, spilling over borders and spreading violence. In Iraq and elsewhere, no amount of U.S. military power can put Humpty Dumpty back together.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Iraq

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    Iraq was created in 1919 by the British and the French, not the Iraqis. There is no sense i holding it together now.

    June 20, 2014 at 1:18 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini@

      Oh, the British and the French were Iraq's parents? That's a wonderful legacy: two of the best countries.
      Sometimes it skips a generation,,,sometimes, even more.
      I like the enclave concept.

      June 20, 2014 at 5:53 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        I don't think you quite get it, Joey. Joseph was talking about what happened in the MiddleEast right after WW1 when the British and the French dismembered the Turkish Empire.

        June 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
  2. chri§§y

    Ok so all the citizens should move here?

    June 20, 2014 at 3:23 am |
  3. chri§§y

    @ Joey i dont know, i mow my own lawn! But im sure some live around you already, why dont you ask one!

    June 20, 2014 at 10:14 am |
  4. j. von hettlingen

    "Can Iraq hold together?" The problem with Iraq is that it is an artificial state with a extremely turbulent history. Modern Iraq is in an area, straddling the Tigris and Euphrates, stretching from the Gulf to the Anti-Taurus. It occupies roughly what was once ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of the world's earliest civilisations.
    A thousand years ago, Iraq was the heartland of an Islamic Empire. A Mongol invasion by the Monguols in the 13th century destroyed its importance. From the 15th century on it was part of the Ottoman Empire and came under British control in 1917 as a result of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which divided up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into areas of British and French influence.
    In 1920 Britain created the state of Iraq. Following the Great Iraqi Revolution, a rebellion against British rule, Faysal, son of Hussein Bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, was crowned Iraq's first king in 1921. Due to hostility Britain decided to grant Iraq independence in 1932. The British-installed monarchy was toppled in 1958 by officers Abd-al-Karim Qasim and Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. Iraq became a republic. Qasim was ousted in 1963 led by the Arab Socialist Baath Party (ASBP) and Arif became president.
    The Baathist government was overthrown by Arif and a group of officers in 1963. After Arif was killed in a helicopter crash in 1966, his elder brother, Abd-al-Rahman Muhammad Arif, succeeded him. A Baathist led-coup ousted Arif in 1968 and the Revolution Command Council (RCC) took power with Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr as president. Saddam Hussein succeeded him in 1979.
    Iraq was a rich country. But the 1980-88 war with Iran and the 1991 Gulf War – invasion of Kuwait, together with the subsequent imposition of international sanctions, had a devastating effect on its development. What remained of the economy was largely shattered by the 2003 invasion and the subsequent violence against the Shia-led government. Terrorist attacks on the oil infrastructure cost the country billions of dollars in lost revenues. In the north, the Kurdish community has managed to have an autonomous region of its own since 1974.
    According to Fareed Zakaria, Washington should have a "Plan B strategy", which is to create "enclaves". This would mean a Balkanisation of Iraq! Indeed, why not? History has shown that the country had always been a battleground for forces vying for power. Perhaps "enclaves" would be the best solution to ending their differences and aggression.

    June 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm |

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