20 December 2005

The Iraq Election Results.

The early results of the Iraqi elections show that the winners are overwhelmingly sectarian parties, rather than secular ones (at least, outside of Kurdistan), and that one's identity as a Kurd, Sunni or Shi'ite (and presumably likewise among smaller minorities) pretty much determined how one voted. The country is moving towards a break up along geographical and ethnic lines. And, if NPR is correct, Baghadad is on the verge of exploding into even more violence as the strength of the Shi'ite showing in the elections there is attributed to fraud rather than political preferences.

The big question is whether the Iraqi nation-state is worth saving. In many respects, a balkanized Iraq, with three to five emergent countries would be more governable and more stable than a unified Iraq, if boundaries were widely agreed upon as legitimate (perhaps based on provincial boundaries and voting results). For all that it terrifies Syria, Turkey and Iran, an Iraqi Kurdistan would be the most stable of the resulting pieces due to its comparatively long period of self-governance and relatively secular regimes. Southern Iraq seems well on its way to becoming an Iranian style Shi'ite theocracy. Home rule, autonomy, or independence, or some similar formula, might be the only way that peace could be achieved in Western Iraq. And, it isn't clear how the central region at the nexis of these more ethnically distinct ares could or should be dealt with -- could they be a small multi-ethnic state (or states), or will these regions, for example, be subsumed in the Shi'ite Southern region possibly accompanied by a wave of murderous segregationist violence similar to that seen in Bosnia and in India in the aftermath of Pakistan's split from it? Fear of those kinds of bloodbaths is partially what makes the international community so wary of national break ups.

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