Iraq and Syria to be divided - İBRAHIM KARAGÜL

Iraq and Syria to be divided

Why did I speak so certain?

Turkey"s southern region went under a large-scale of instability. Since 2003 the unsteady situation has gradually spread to all of this regional belt and detailed information in publications on divided land maps are occurring. Camps are built in the region based on ethnic, sectarian identities. These camps advance to a level enough to compete with states in this region and can even become a factor of division in countries like Iraq today.

For those who have started to look at things in the past 10 years and who can anticipate things in the next 10 years, it is impossible not to anticipate the emergence of small states in this instable regional belt around southern Turkey. Instead of post WWI structures, we can easily say that relatively newer and smaller states will be established.

Small oil states

Maps are rendered based on oil, natural gas, energy corridors, and ethnic and sectarian identities. "Small oil states" are indeed being founded. Of course, we are unable to see it in such a way. The debate over the Northern Iraq whether it will be independent or not is only one aspect of the issue. Since the recent past, there has always been a state project, which aimed at merging Iraqi Sunnis with Syrian Sunnis. After invasion of Iraq in 2003, this has become the hottest debate.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured Mosul and faced Tikrit and took over the districts of Sunni Arabs confronting the government in Baghdad. These all proved that the Sunni Arab state project was not put on the shelf. There is clearly a known chain of facts: ISIL collaborated with Assad in coordination against the Syrian opposition. In fact, it backed up Bashar Assad"s administration and captured the districts of the opposition forces after Assad had bombarded them with airstrikes. The relationship between the Nusayri regime in Damascus and Sunni organization may seem ironic but ISIL clearly represents an Arab nationalist movement, it is understandable. Such conjectural coalitions in this region are actually not so surprising. This is the evident influence of Saddam"s structuralism in the region.

This must be the reason why in these regions Sunni Arab emphasis outweighs sectarian identity. The organization, no matter how it collaborates with the Assad regime and maintains its existence based on this, will soon try to expand its conflict with Damascus after Baghdad. Since the project is to capture Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis, the organization"s coalitional relationships are provisional.

Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus Axis

In the region, the new reconstruction of forces seems to be compatible with the Sunni project. At least they are not negating each other. Tehran-Baghdad axis supported the Assad regime with all its strength and despite all the slaughter, it avoided the democratic transformation there. It weakened the Syrian opposition. We can easily say that Assad regime was backed and lived up by the Iranian army forces.

The Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Hezbollah axis formed a firm and wide security line in the southern border of Turkey. It crashed the Sunnis. Unfortunately and eventually, the line of demarcation between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East was made to be the most distinguished character in the Middle East.

In the recent period, Turkey has acceded to Northern Iraq. Thus, Turkey bypassed the Baghdad regime and the close-relationship reached its peak after the negotiations on the oil. Thus, The Northern Iraq oil was opened to the global market through Turkey. This literally drove Baghdad crazy. In the Sunni Arab regions, if especially there is an energy corridor in the surroundings of Mosul and Kirkuk that means the events will become much more widespread.

It is strange because as soon as the oil became the topic, ISIL took off and captured Mosul. The organization has been following a strategy of targeting on the oil wells and corridors. This is not a random thing and in fact, it proves a very profound strategy behind it. In parallel with ISIS" existence behind the mobilization in Iraq, we realize provocations escalating against the resolution process. Let us contemplate the events in Lice from this point of view and see where PKK places itself in this energy mobilization.

The fatal game

In December 2012, I wanted to draw the attention of my readers to this topic and the energy mobilization in the region with the provoking article title "Does Turkey want to divide Iraq?" In this article, I questioned the aspect of Ankara in getting closer with Northern Iraq from the viewpoint of the energy policy and how it would influence the regional power setting. In 2003, Turkey"s most rooted thesis was the territorial integrity of Iraq. Turkey put an enormous effort to prevent the dismantling of Iraq. However, after the events started in Syria and Baghdad switched to Tehran"s side, Turkey made a policy change. The collaboration with N. Iraq rose to the top level and our relationship with Baghdad almost cut off. Turkey found Kurds and Sunni Arabs closer to itself than the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus regime.

The Economist referred to this shift in those days when it conveyed us a message that the Turkey and Kurdish administration are playing a fatal game. The separation between N. Iraq and Baghdad became more powerful through the resolution process in Turkey.

The formula then came up as "Turkish-Kurdish-Sunni" axis.

I discussed over this triplet for many days in such quote and quote jargon. I am still arguing that this will play a dominant role in the region and will leave deep traces with its amazing power base setting in the future of the region.

Nevertheless, the situation is tearing apart the people and putting them in camps. However, this step had been taken long before Turkey got involved in the situation. Iran"s stance on the region or its power line in the south of Turkey is no different than those of Israel. Both are trying to confine Turkey to Anatolia and willing to disconnect the relationship between Kurds and Sunni Arabs. Let us not underestimate the ISIL factor in the region. It may be a strategic mistake to put it under the terror list together with al-Qaeda. No one was expecting that the organization would become as strong as it is today but it did so. It eventually established its dominance almost on all Sunnis in Iraq. I personally do not think that the organization will confront neither Kurds nor Turkey. There is an Arab nationalist structure in the region and unless it breaks off, it may hold the Sunni Arabs under its influence for a period and become an important political actor.

Finally, all these issues indicate a tri-partition of Iraq. The disconnection between N. Iraq and Baghdad relationship is nourished this way. This may happen to Syria soon. In fact, a kind of Iraq-Levantine State may appear.

Thus, it"s useful to question the role of the USA-Israel policies, Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as the oil equation repetitively.


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