Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A different pattern

Issam Naaman, in his regular op-ed in AlQuds AlArabi, compares the effects of Bush administration policy in Kurdistan with what he sees as a parallel situation in Lebanon. With respect to Kurdistan and Turkey, his first point is that the Bush policy has clearly been unbalanced in favor of the Kurds as against the central Iraqi government, and his second point is that the weakness of the executive branch under Bush has invited the intervention of the legislative branch and this has only added fuel to the fire (referring to the Biden and then the genocide resolution). The result has been to almost "invite" Turkish intervention, because in the absence of such intervention, the momentum is all in the direction of an eventual establishment of a Kurdish nation in the north, with effects not only on Turkey, but on the Kurdish minorities in Syria and Iran too.

In Lebanon, where the Bush administration supports the March 14 group in the same unbalanced way, the latter group is calling for the disarmament of Hizbullah and normalization of relations with Israel, with an implied corollary of "cantonization" of Lebanon, which would involve walling off or separating in some way the Shiite, Sunni and Christian regions respectively. Naaman recalls that in the 70s, the same, or at least the analogous, pro-Western forces reacted to Palestinian resurgence with a similar proposal for cantonization, and the result in that case was intervention by Syria to prevent that. The pattern, he is suggesting, is the same in the Kurdish and Lebanese cases: Bush-administration going with the flow in terms of unconditional support for its local client, leading on a straight path to the dilemma of either instability, or else a neighboring country's intervention to prevent that instability. By way of grabbing the reader with an arresting paradox, he suggests, whether seriously or not I don't know, that the result in Lebanon could end up being US support for another round of Syrian intervention in the interests of preventing a meltdown.

Talk of federalism or cantonization for Lebanon in recent months has not been uncommon. Nasrullah referred to it as the "Israeli option" in a famous speech at the end of last year's Israel-Hizbullah war, and Naaman said a congressional delegation to Lebanon last April talked about the idea (I didn't mention the point in my summary of that piece here, but I think you will find it in the pdf version of the AlQuds story for that day).

I mention this Naaman op-ed today, not for any predictive claims or anything like that (although depressingly that seems to be almost the only way of reading things these days), but rather as an illustration of an overall view about the current role of the US Congress. Bush administration weakness creates a void, which Congress then purports to fill, but whose effect is merely to push an unstable situation into a condition of even greater instability, (by in effect out-maneuvering Bush to the right, although Naaman doesn't put it that way).


Blogger stephen said...

Your reporting on this issue and other examples of "divide and rule" tactics currently used by US/Israeli policy makers in the Arab Muslim world is excellent.

I don't know of anyone else (in English) who covers this issue. My Arabic reading skills were once strong, but are fast retreating. I wonder if you could recommend another English source that may compile (and better yet, index) information on this topic.

Is there a journalist or journal, author or book title you could recommend?

On a more specific topic: I have long suspected that American/Israeli policy makers use the Kurdish peshmerga to sow discord between Sunni and Shia Arabs. It is clear enough that Kurdish politicians are used for this purpose in the political arena.

Do you know of any good reporting about peshmerga forces (backed by US/Israeli sources) fomenting violence against or between Iraqi Arabs (namely to inflame Sunni and Shia tensions?

Even an Arabic source on this issue would much appreciated for academic research purposes. However, English sources are preferred.

9:47 AM  

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