A two-state solution for Iraq?

Nov. 28, 2006 at 9:23 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- While Washington buzzes with theories for a potential way out of Iraq, a risk management expert poses a new option: split Iraq in two.

"We need radical thinking. The military situation (in Iraq) cries out for political experimentation," David Apgar, author of Risk Intelligence, told United Press International.

Apgar advocates dividing Iraq into two separate states, with the border running from northeast to southwest, dividing the two countries just south of Baghdad.

"This partition proposal is not based purely on ethnicity. The two states would share Iraq's Shiite population between them, while one of the states would also include just about all of Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds," Apgar explained.

The northern state would be composed of nearly equal proportions of Sunnis and Kurds, with a minority Shiite population living in and around Baghdad. The southern Shiite state would include the major Shiite holy sites as well as the southern oil fields. Apgar's proposal relies on the theorizing of Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and president of Eurasia Group, in his recent book called "The J Curve." Bremmer's model, based on a composite of political openness, political stability, and availability of economic capital, suggests that closed states stabilize by growing more closed and open states stabilize by becoming more open.

Applying Bremmer's theory to Iraq, Apgar explained that a northern state comprising the Sunnis, Iraq's administrative class, the Kurds, a cosmopolitan diaspora, and the urban Shiites would favor more open governance. A southern Shiite state would likely favor traditional governance, perhaps under Islamic law, Apgar said. With a political solution, the military could then oversee the transition.

"We seem to stick with one political conception in Iraq for years, or certainly months, at a time. We need the same kind of trial and error in our political approach that we use in our military approach," Apgar said.

It might offer a new option and along with it a recipe for more disaster.

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