Iraq, After Saddam

Pennireef Papers

Bill wrote the following article for “Target Topic” – after the first Gulf War, in March 1991.
Now, 20 years later, It is still amazingly current.

Iraq After Saddam

It will eventually happen. The monster must go the way of all flesh because, “it is appointed unto man once to die” but what of the aftermath. What about Iraq? It must be remembered that modern-day Iraq was a creation of the British government after World War I when the country was carved from an area vaguely called Mesopotamia, a part of the pre-1918 Turkish Empire.

The newly created Iraq did not follow tribal or ethnic divisions. The boundaries of Iraq are nearly all straight lines drawn with a pencil and ruler in a notebook. The inhabitants of this new creation included Bedouin Arabs, Marsh Arabs, Town Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Armenians. Northern Iraq, largely inhabited by Kurds, was included so that the British could keep control of the newly developed oilfield at Kirkuk.

Following the defeat of Saddam Hussein, there are various factors which will threaten the stability of this potentially wealthy country. Consider the following: elements in Turkey would like to repossess some of the oil-producing areas in western Iraq. The only restraining factor is Turkey’s desire to be accepted for membership in the European Community (EC) in 1992. All bets are off if the EC scorns Turkey’s aspirations. Syria also has a claim on northwestern Iraq which was originally part of the Turkish province of Damascus.

The Kurds have long sought a state of their own. Close contact is maintained between Kurdish communities living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. They are well-armed and good fighters. Saddam’s treatment of the Kurds has been appalling. Mustard gas was used on several hundred Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, with over 5,000 killed in the massacre. When the power vacuum comes to Iraq, the Kurds will certainly try to seize part of northern Iraq from the Arabs and declare an independent Kurdistan. As this area includes all the northern oil fields the West will probably eat the Kurds along the way. It won’t be easy to subdue a vigorous Kurdish rebellion.

The Assyrians form a considerable minority in central Iraq, and represent the Christian element in the country. In ancient times they were the rulers in this part of the Middle East. The Iraqi government massacred large numbers after independence.

The Armenians form a small minority in Iraq, but they keep in touch with Armenian groups in Syria, Turkey and Russia. The independence movement in Armenia (USSR) dreams of creating a Greater Armenia and thus may develop ties with their kinsman living in Iraq.

Other border countries have no territorial ambitions regarding Iraq, but have a mutual interest in restoring peace and stability. Extremists (terrorists) will capitalize on the collapse of Saddam and will resist any intrusion by Western powers into Arab lands. It’s going to be a long haul any way you look at it.

Bill Bathman – March 1991

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