Sometimes what you do just doesn’t matter. Sometimes what whole countries do, or even the entire planet does, just doesn’t matter. Folks occasionally refer to this as the ‘great wheel’. History takes over or chaos reigns.
Because when people aren’t serious, lunacy gets to run wild. By any definition, Maliki, America, the UN, your next door neighbor, you, me, were not serious about Iraq. And so history got to work its magic. Enjoy it, we all own it.
At first I considered the possibility that Maliki was allowing ISIS to seize significant portions of Iraq so he could effectively divest himself of the majority Sunni lands. Then he could keep Baghdad, the majority Shiite lands, and build his own Shiite super state. What does he need the northwest for anyways? There’s hardly any oil, a bunch of Sunnis who he hates live there, and so on.
Yet today I’m confronted with the reality that Maliki isn’t playing a game. He’s actually completely powerless. The withdrawal or desertion of Iraqi forces is not part of a broader devious plan. They’re actually losing. Maliki does not have a functioning army under his command. How do I know this? Because the Kurds took Kirkuk today and didn’t fire a shot.
If you know anything about Iraq the last few years, it’s that if Iraq was going to descend into civil war, it was to be over Kirkuk. There’s oil there. And the autonomous Kurds and Baghdad were literally ready to trade tank rounds over it. One of the top three reasons everybody thought the Americans needed to stay was to ensure the Kurds and Shiites didn’t kill each other over Kirkuk. The Americans were the neutral party.
So if Maliki isn’t able to hold Kirkuk, he’s truly in trouble. Thus, observe one of history’s great lessons, once again on display. When you turn a reasonable standing army into a tribal militia where merit and training are replaced by religion and politics? Don’t be surprised when a battalion runs away from sixteen guys in four pickup trucks.
So what’s going to happen? ISIS isn’t going to seriously tangle with the Kurds because their forces are fairly good. Maliki is likely to hold Baghdad because ISIS just doesn’t have the firepower or manpower to overcome even the seriously degraded Iraqi Army. But the Shiites aren’t going to be able to retake the northwest, even if they wanted to.
So the Kurds will get their fully autonomous state in the north, with Kirkuk. Maliki will get his Shiite state in the southeast with Baghdad. And the Sunnis will get the northwest and be left to rot, under ISIS lunatics or anybody else who has enough guns to hold it.
So finally, after all these years, after all the war and death, after all the back room diplomacy, Iraq is finally divided into three parts.
In other words, every single action post 2003 is now a failure.
Who’s to blame? Well, I’ll probably write about that later. But don’t listen to idiots who are already telling you they had it figured out back in 2003 or 2005 or 2009 or 2011. It did not have to end this way even after it started or was changed. Folks who have an axe to grind are going to use this to push their politics, one side or the other. But in general, the answer for who’s to blame is:
Everybody had a hand in this. So for right now, who cares? The question currently on offer is what’s to be done about this? I could answer that, but for right now, who cares? Why? Because the real answer is that the world’s going to do nothing. Nothing. Everybody’s going to watch Iraq burn. So since we’re going to do nothing, why even talk options. Let’s just sit back and observe the great wheel doing its thing. Enjoy it, the whole world owns it.
This man’s face and this scene have occurred in Iraq seventeen times since the dawn of man