By Karl Spain
They say there are no easy answers in the Middle East and that we have a long bitter battle ahead, and with no strategy outlined by the President or even the State Department. This can be changed — all these ridiculous excuses for inaction, while the world burns, are an incorrect diagnosis of a situation — that is actually quite simple to solve.
1. Send some top military brass from the Pentagon (not Kerry) to meet with the Kurdish leaders in Kurdistan. Make it clear to them, you support their independence from Iraq and give them the weapons necessary for their army to hold, defend and protect their new territory. Support with air power but no ground troops. The redrawn border of this new state will start 25 miles west of where the Tigris leaves Turkey and will follow the line of the river south, (offset by 25 miles) until the Tigris exits Mosul. Just south of the city, the border will bend back east, connect with the river and then follow the Tigris to the city of Zowiya, where it will depart from the Tigris and follow a straight line south east toward the Iranian border, through the city of Jalula, before intersecting the Iranian border, where the this new boundary will end.
Give them a holiday of independence (I recommend July 4) and voila, Kurdistan is born. This new division will put the vast majority of Kurds, within the new Kurdistan, and is a defensible and natural boundary. Since the political leaders in this region have been asking the U.S. government for permission to do exactly this, since the start of the war, it’s a safe bet this is both politically and militarily feasible. First, do what you know you can do. Vice president Joe Biden recommended this years ago, so it’s not just a Krazy Karl idea.
2. The second new border will begin at Jalula and stretch southwest on a straight line through Fallujah; this second new border will purposely cross north of Bagdad (allowing a defensive perimeter for the city) and then connect with Saudi Arabia. This will leave the southeastern piece of Iraq, north of the Euphrates and the Tigris, (almost completely populated with Shiite), that I would simply allow the country of Iran to assimilate. The U.S. government will have the biggest problem with this part of the plan, but for no good reason.
The millions of Shiite that live there now, will be far less trouble for the world and the region, inside a new Iranian border. Since this would increase the size of Iran, and increase her population base substantially, we would not hear objections from the Iranians to this compromise. It might even be possible to get them to drop their nuclear program in exchange for this change. Even if the U.S. government stubbornly refused to do anything that might benefit Iran, they could still draw this boundary exactly as I’ve described it, and name this new territory, Iraq. This sounds ridiculous, but it’s exactly what we have done up until now, so at worst, my plan succeeds in all other geographic and political areas and is no worse off here, than what we’ve already done.
3. That will leave a third area, the areas west of the Tigris all the way to the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian borders, (mostly populated by Sunni’s), either to be absorbed by Saudi Arabia, or to be incorporated as a new Islamist state. Since the players in ISIL would be subject to Saudi Arabian rule if the Saudi’s took this deal, this would end ISIL’s savage war with Syria. If the Saudi’s rejected assimilating their own people in an adjacent territory (possible, but unlikely), this would leave a new Islamist state, controlled by Sunni hardliners, at war with Syria. Although this isn’t the best outcome if the Saudi’s refused, from the point of view of American interests, it’s not a bad outcome.
Conclusion: Assad contained and destabilized by ISIL. The war and refugee problem stemmed everywhere else, the oil producing regions protected and producing. Most importantly, it likely to produce long term stability since these very different populations, with very different religious and national goals, will now be properly located and aligned either as an autonomous new country (Kurdistan), or tucked back into a population and national base they share.
This is a primer on how to prevent war actually. No new borders is a great idea, if all the world’s borders were in the right place right now, but clearly these borders, drawn by a fleeing UK, with no regard for the ethnic and religious differences of the native populations, were not properly drawn. Fixing it, while the region is suffering a devastating civil war — is the only way to do it actually. What is the other alternative? Try telling two countries not suffering these problems to transfer millions of citizens to a different country and redraw the boundary? That will never happen. These things can be fixed, while there’s blood on the ground, and running in the rivers – and at no other time.