Partition – a missed opportunity

The region of Syria and Iraq needed a political solution, namely partition. This would have saved lives as well as simplifying the military task. This means that the political map should have been redrawn to reflect political realities, rather than sticking to the arbitrary post WW I boundaries.

If the major powers had been willing to accept that partition was the only solution to the sectarian divisions of these two countries the pain on the last six years could have avoided.

War is brutal and harsh

History has shown that war is difficult to avoid when the political borders join together people groups are not willing to accept each other and to work together for the common good.

Serbian discontent, matched by Austria-Hungary determination to maintain power, can be consider to the primary trigger for WW 1.

The Syrian and Iraqi conflict show a similar pattern.

Partition – a New Political Map

Drawing a new political map for Syria and Iraq would not have been difficult. This is because there was already a defacto Kurdish regime in northern Syria, and another one in northern Iraq. Apart from the Kurdish-Arab divide, the other natural division is between Sunni Arabs and non-Sunni Arabs. A new political arrangement of this region could have provided four stable governments that could have been expected to provide security for their own people, and would not have needed or wanted to turn to either the West or Russia:

  1. Syria – the southern and western part of the current nation.
  2. Iraq – the Arab-Shiite dominated region in the south of the country.
  3. Kurdistan – the Kurdish dominated parts of northern regions of Iraq and Syria.
  4. Northern Euphrates – the Arab-Sunni dominated regions of Iraq and Syria.

In an interview recently given by President Assad, the interviewer raised the prospect of partition. Assad firmly and confidently rejected this. He now expects to win, with most of Aleppo under the government’s control.

President Obama, Commander-in-Chief for the last 7 years, missed a great opportunity for peace by refusing to countenance partition. I just hope that he has not laid the groundwork for another 50 years of strife in that region by trying to maintain old and inappropriate borders.


An earlier version of this article was published 12 months ago. It can found here.