Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Informal empire....

Juan Cole reports that Iraq's southernmost provinces are making concrete steps to declare a confederation similar to that in Kurdistan. This has been on the Ranter before - although there might well be some short-run gains from a cynical British point of view in supporting separatism in the British zone, history does not sound encouraging. From a longer view, we don't want to undermine the unity of Iraq - even though, yes, there is oil in the south, less violence (usually) and access to the sea. The French in the Ruhr after the first world war thought similarly and succeeded in enabling a good deal of Nazi and paramilitary activity.

Modernly, such a zone would be both wildly provocative to both Sunnis and central Iraqi Shia and also geopolitically tempting for Iran to get involved. Not good.

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