The Future of Iraq is The Future of The Mıddle East
Süleyman ŞENSOY
Süleyman ŞENSOY
TASAM Başkanı / Chairman
Release Date : 1/11/2011

The Ottoman’s state conception showed itself in the way of continuing the dominance by depending the present prominent components to the state instead of building new identities in the regions under their dominance. The western countries, on the other hand, tried to clinch their controls over these countries and to make it continuous by highlighting the minor identities in the most of the countries where they perceived as domains, especially following after the 1st World War.

One of the most significant samples of it is that the Nusayri (Arabian Alevis) minority of 9 % in Syria, mostly consisted of Sunnis, were made dominant, the Sunnis were made dominant in the administration degrees in Iraq, mostly consisted of Shiites and other minorities. England and France, thus, aimed to form the administrations might continue their presences only via the assistance of the foreign powers as the constitutional monarchy’s bases were extremely weak.

Over time, these policies encouraged the development of the nationalist trends. In the years 1950’s and 1960’s, as seen throughout the third World, the nationalism became a very strong trend in the Arabic world and started to threaten the availabilities of the Western powers in these countries. In 1952, in Egypt, in 1958, in Iraq, the monarchies were replaced with the governments established by the nationalists.

The policies of highlighting the Sunnis through policies of forming – supposedly– a secular nationalist Arabian identity in Iraq, turned into Arabization for the Kurdish people and sunnization for the Shiite. The pressures increased in Saddam’s period caused the Shiites and Kurdish people moved away from the center.

At the beginning, the USA, in order to create an available environment and to form a weak Iraq having an injured National union, has cooperated with the Shiites and Kurdish people offended by the Saddam administration. This case caused to reactions in all of the neighboring countries and the neighbors of Iraq have developed, in any way, approaches and policies against the USA sooner or later.

Consequently the identity policies applied by the USA in Iraq have created a situation being hazardous gradually for all the parties.

There are two main points in the region for the future of the American policies: Shiites, as the overwhelming majority of Iraq, has developed close relationships with Iran and the instability in Iraq caused the image the USA, which is already in a very bad condition because of its relations with Israel, to be destroyed completely. Therefore, the USA started to search for the remedies of conciliation of the stresses between the Arabian nationalist sections and Kurdish people.

The current situations of the political actors in the Region could be summarized like that:

The Shiites experience the confusion mixed with pride of coming to power in Iraq for the first time since very long periods. This confusion has deepened with the fact that the interferences of the USA, other great powers, neighboring countries and some organizations in the affairs of the country has shown that how difficult it was to be a power in such a country as Iraq,

Iran, certainly, is the most important country at the point of using these identities. But usage of the Shiite identity in Iraq by Iran also has very serious hazards together with it. The most important one is the probability of occurrence of a Persian – Arabian decomposition along with the identities and then conflicts in Iran.

The scratching of identities In Iraq might foment decomposition between the Arab population concentrated in the vicinity of Abadan oil and the Persian. These discriminatory policies might be transferred to the Azerbaijani people by the foreign powers. Iran is aware of this situation and thus it is one of the countries that defend the land integrity of Iraq at most. In addition, while it has the ability to control Iraq as whole through Shiites, Iran does not want a dissociated Iraq, which can be, then, an enemy and can create instability in the region.

The USA preferred to benefit from Shiites in order to down the Saddam regime and to create a weak and manageable Iraq. However, recently it cannot use identities as easily as it did in the past.

Although Turkey had a cold manner for a long time and established a dialogue only with the Sunnis in Iraq, it has been the first country that has noticed the hazards of developing close relations with some sectors and ignoring the others, developed a clear stance on this issue against the USA and opposed to the division of Iraq.

The majority of Shiites, scares the Gulf countries, causes them be silent. However this posture does not change the fact that more than 50% of Iraq consists of Shiites. Therefore, if the Gulf countries also wish stability in the region, they shall develop their relationships in a short time.

The most disturbed countries from the Shiite resurgence in Iraq are the Gulf countries, mainly the Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Gulf countries have difficulties to develop dialogues with Shiites from Iraq because of the extremist attitudes of the Salafis against the Shiites, of their dependencies to the USA and of other deficiencies in policy developing regarding the policy development. They also blench that Iraq would be an easy prey for Iran. The fact that Shiites in Iraq are getting stronger, increased their fears about Iran, which is the most blenched country by the Gulf countries since the period of Khomeini.

In this case, the USA involves to the affairs of the region, through the fears of the Gulf countries, much more than before. Still, the most damaged ones from this situation are the Gulf countries. Because the grooving fear about Iran increases the costs of arms race, raises the discomfort of the Shiite elements and therefore the risk of dividing the Gulf countries. This, in turn, prevents them develop healthy policies about their own region.

As of today, the deepening of identity division in Iraq is a source of profound instability not only for Turkey but for all other countries in the region. This situation can work only for the good of Israel in the region.

It is possible to fix the affects of the relations between religion and politics in such dissociation – much or a little – through the identity and ethnical lines of Iraq. In Iraq, the Shiites form the rural section engaging with agriculture mostly. They continue their presences not as power elements but as the protest components in Iraq throughout the history. But the Shiites started to involve politics naturally with the beginning of urbanization process in the 20th century and strengthening the middle class. In spite of it, the periods when the two sects’s members lived together in peace throughout the history cannot be disregarded.

In the identity conflicts, mostly the parties collided are damaged directly. However, because of the Kurdish problem, Turkey and then Iran are faced with a great danger, also because of the Shiite problem, all of the Gulf countries are faced with a great danger.

If the identity conflicts in Iraq did not expand to the Gulf countries, it was only because of the fact that the USA and the international society as whole did not want to definitely stand against causing any collusion inhere.

The region is extremely important for the West from the strategic and economic points of views. Trough the 1970’s, the USA tried to continue its presence in the region as friend with Iran at the level of ‘’soft power’’. However, it decided to control the region with the military might when it could not be successful at this point. But neither neighboring countries, nor international society can stand with a more chaotic situation in Iraq. Moreover, the crises damage the legitimacy of the USA in the region.

There are many political actors having different agendas in the region. A ‘’common agenda’’ shall arise out of these agendas sooner or later. But the important thing is to make that without more bloodshed and more economic loss.

Currently, political structure in Iraq has been built in a way that can deepen ethnic and sectarian decomposition. This should be corrected immediately. State institutions should be made operational.

Sectarian policies means lebanisation of Iraq. Moreover, it is getting a more powerful belief that Israel benefited from the religious order collusions in Iraq as in Lebanon and thus the dissolutions in Iraq were stimulated by Israel.

The integrity of Iraq depends on Iraqi people. It is not expected that Iraq would be divided unless Shiites – Sunnis collided and Shiites and Sunnis wish dissociation of Iraq. If Iraq does not undertake its own control by itself, the policy shall not accept any gap. It is natural that the neighboring countries, other foreign actors and certainly Turkey intervene.

The collusion of Shiites – Sunnis, the collusions of Kurdish – Arabian people or others are not fatal. The images ‘Other’ and ‘We’ are in minds. Only the ones believe that the collusion is necessary collude! But it is easy to have the people colluded, it is hard to assure them for peace. The peace should be succeeded in any case.

In Iraq the identities shall certainly conserve their presences. But utilization of the identities, trying to direct and to form them according to interests of some kind of actors, defining the interests according to some identities other than national identity and national interests identities imply great hazards for all the relevant parties, mainly Iraq citizens. Only and only Israel could benefit from manipulation of identities and fomenting of the identity collusions but it is only in the short run. It also includes major drawbacks for the peace of the region and world for a long time.

The resource of the problem is that the global powers consider the Gulf countries in particular and the Middle East in general as ‘’an important region that cannot be left alone’’.

Authoritarian governments, which have emerged in the region as a reaction to the policies of global powers, have attempted to depress the native components whom they thought that they might be the means to the global powers. In turn, the foreign powers attempted to benefit from these depressed sections.

This vicious circle should be broken. It is hard to establish a permanent stability in Iraq and the Region unless the initiative is given to the own components of the Region and the main deciders will be the native elements of the Region. The leaders of the countries of the region are not aware of this fact or avoid from facing with it as they cannot envisage compensating it.

The administrative section emerged in Iraq since the year 2003, consists of the persons do not feel sure of themselves completely and thus cannot know what they wish. It also indicates that the new generation’s administrators had difficulties to define their own identities, have an identity crisis. It is hard, even impossible to share the political and economical fields in the way to satisfy the parties when a political comprehension is developed through the Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish or other identity definitions.

The modern definitions to cover whole of Iraq remove the traditional definitions of the religious orders or the mentioned ethnical groups completely, threaten these identities. The solution in Iraq can be through meeting of the traditional and modern identity definitions in an acceptable point.

The existing Constitution of Iraq, built onto the identity bases should be changed. The Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish leaders of every group, defending Iraq patriotism should be supported. The emphasis the citizenship of Iraq should be developed instead of the religious order or ethnical connections.

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