Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Separate Peace: Leaving the country to save it

September 24, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative

A Separate Peace

Leaving the country to save it

by Leon Hadar

Casablanca, Sept. 17, 2010—The international conference that opened in this beautiful city yesterday is expected to put some final touches on a United Nations-sponsored accord on the future of the new state being set up in Mesopo-tamia, the Confederation of Iraq and Kurdistan (CFIK). The agreement was reached in early July, following months of negotiations in Bern, Switzerland, where the Arab League, Iran, and Turkey, together with representatives of the main ethnic and religious groups in Iraq that have been fighting over control of the country, accepted the formula proposed by the two lead mediators, U.S. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke and French Foreign Secretary Bernard Kouchner.

The agreement calls for the division of the former Iraq into two political entities—the Islamic Republic of Iraq (IRI) and the Kurdish Republic (KR)—that are delineated by the Inter-Entity Boundary Line and together form the decentralized CFIK. The accord also stipulated that the CFIK “belongs” to eight constitutive ethnic groups—Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians, Persians, Shabaks, and Lurs—and provides for the protection of these groups through regional and international guarantees and the presence of international peacekeeping troops from NATO and the Arab League.

The accord also safeguards the rights of religious groups including Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís, Mandaeans, and Yezidis. The Sunnis residing in the IRI will be granted limited political autonomy in the provinces where they constitute a majority, mostly in provincial towns and rural villages in the Sunni Triangle. Local forces, augmented by police and military units from the Arab League and Pakistan, will help maintain security. Baghdad will be declared an “open city” for five years, with UN peacekeeping troops securing law and order. Eventually, the city will be reinstituted as the capital of the CFIR.

“The agreement reached in Bern is testimony to the willingness of all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, as well their neighbors in the region, to overcome deep-rooted differences,” Secretary Holbrooke said during a speech here three days ago. After expressing his gratitude to President Hillary Clinton—“at the other Casa Blanca” (“Casa Blanca,” of course, is “White House” in Spanish)—and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy for their contribution to the success of the conference, the U.S. chief diplomat turned to his French counterpart and, to the laughter of the audience, delivered the famous line: “Bernard, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” (read the rest)

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