On March 26, 2012, Turkey's Sunday's Zaman published 'Turkey prepares for partition of Iraq'. In his excellent piece 'Hot Spot: Turkey, Iraq, and Mosul' (Middle East Quarterly, Sept 1995), Daniel Pipes discussed remarks repeatedly made by Turkey's President Süleyman Demirel over Turkey's border with Iraq: "The border on those heights is wrong. Actually, that is the boundary of the oil region. Turkey begins where that boundary ends. Geologists drew that line. It is not Turkey's national border. That is a matter that has to be rectified." (www.solami.com/iraqoil.htm#hotspot).1. Northern Iraq (Mosul Vilayet)
These and similar official remarks caused a brief incident that was mostly overlooked by the international press. But they touched raw nerves in the Turkish parliament and society as a whole, while raising concerns notably in Iraq and other Arab countries. Are we witnessing a rerun of history, or have regional developments evolved to the point where the powers that be - including the Arab, Persian, Egyptian and Turkish communities - may be ready to recognise past errors as a precondition for not repeating them? And will they bring mutually beneficial results for the Mosul Vilayet's constitutive Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkomen and Yezidi communities? Following is an inventory of currently relevant circumstances and developments, as seen by a distant observer.
Map of the states under the French Mandate (1921-22) source: Wikipedia
Wikipedia lists the following states to have originally formed the Mandate territory: Greater Lebanon, State of Alawites, State of Jabal Druze, State of Aleppo, State of Damascus, Sanjak of Alexandretta, Al-Jazira province, and Golan Region. It quotes 2007 Syrian state sources for the following:
"The population of Syria is 74% Sunni, 12% Alawi, 10% Christian, and 3% Druze. Combined, some 90% of the Syrian population is Muslim, while the other 10% is Christian, which includes mainly Arab Christians but also Assyrians and Armenians. Major ethnic minorities in Syria include Kurds (9%), Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens and Circassians. The majority of the population is Arab (90%)."In this population and - lopsided - power setup, Sparta comes to mind. Where the governing ethnic Spartans were totally outnumbered by, notably, the Helotes who are understood to have been kept in a slave position by brutal force and even killings for the sake of training. Where ruse, deceit and betrayal were promoted as virtues for holding on to power - as long as they were not discovered in which case they became objects of severe punishments.
Despite of its extensive security apparatus,
modern Syria has been ill-prepared for both spontaneous and what appear
to be essentially foreign-controlled
Spring sparks (.../Syria.htm#Sudairi). And while the large majority
of its constitutive communities tries to stay away from the internal conflict,
its regime is credited with having managed to portray itself abroad as
its people's and its own's worst possible enemy by apparently failing the
unrest control and containment objective within the constraints of civilised
behavior. As demonstrated by Saddam and others before him, Syria's spartan
rulers apparently never managed to really defuse the explosive mix of competing
rather than cooperating diverse communities, of forcefully subdued minorities,
a sidelined majority and a notoriously over-privileged and recklessly roughshod-ruling
minority. In this light some otherwise
commendable analysis, like those of the dean of Mid-Eastern observers Peter
Scholl-Latour, may be a bit short on depth and perspective (.../Syria.htm).
And perhaps squaring the Syrian circle may no longer be achievable on traditional
pathways but indicate a temporary return to square one - if not to the
agreement of 1916, than at least to the conditions prevailing at
the outset of the League of Nations. There, Great Britain did not
have the UN-like veto powers. But in effect it dominated much of its proceedings,
as is evidenced by the way the League "assisted" to resolve the Turkish-Iraqi
border issue ("Question
of the Frontier between Turkey and Irak", League of Nations, C.400,
M.147, 1925, VII: .../1925.pdf). With an eventual refounding, split-up
or fusion of Syria with one or more neighboring territories - as happened
before in the cases of the Sanjak of Alexandretta and Lebanon.
And as proposed by David Littman at the UN in 1995 under the title
"Towards a United
States of Abraham in the Middle East" (.../icesc.htm#ABRAHAM).
With the UN initially being charged with a temporary trusteeship function,
as was examined and proposed for the whole of Iraq some time ago
(Patrick Sutter, "Can Iraq
be placed under United Nations Trusteeship?", GOGEL, 16.4.06: .../opinion.htm).
3. Israel/Palestine conflict
More light reduces darkness and fear of the unknown. More true and unbiased knowledge, more education and more respect for others' insights, opinions and convictions are powerful tools for change into a brighter and more individually rewarding future. And more healthy competition of ideas sharpens the sense of individual responsibility, cooperation and solidarity. Are we too close to the trees to see the wood, are the wounds of current and recent conflicts still too painful to concentrate on underlying matters and available opportunities? Are these simply neglectable truisms? Or are they genuinely helpful sources of inspiration and for real individual growth, strength and prosperity? Maybe it is too early to ask some fundamental questions relating to the origin of monotheism (www.solami.com/a1.htm). Like: What if Zoroaster turned out to be identical with Abraham? What if our reading of the Holy Books had led us all astray, with new insights offering new light and horizons? What if Israelis and Palestinians were brethren who had yet to discover their common Egyptian ancestry? So maybe we must first seek a place of contagious tranquility, to lean back and think things over, and for enlightening peace of mind to be refound.
Traffic gridlock can be resolved only
if - instead of yelling, grandstanding and pushing - one driver puts in
the reverse gear. Those wishing to genuinely resolving the persistent
Israeli/Palestinian no-future gridlock may draw inspiration from that
simple fact. They may be helped with the pathway identified in the nine-star
puzzle (.../puzzle.htm). With enlightened Palestinians taking the
initiative and leadership, instead of following the majority which is understood
to have already thrown in the towel and joined the diaspora in nearby and
far-away countries. They might follow what Edward
de Bono, in the early eighties, reportedly suggested to Yuri
Andropov "to deprive your enemy of an enemy and your enemy disappears"
as the historically founded deep-draught advice which in fact led to the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, brought an end to the Cold War, but destabilised
an unprepared West in its core foundations and certainties. And which may
yet bring forth amazing social, economic and political developments never
achievable with military means. Are we thus going to witness a Babylon
II? With those tired of serving as punching bag, and willing to say
temporarily good-bye to their Israeli brethren, following the Mosul
Vilayet Council's long-standing invitation to set up a Palestine-in-exile
on a 49 year Hong Kong-type leased territory in the Diyala (.../palestineinexile.htm).
There, they could assist in the recovery of Iraq's lost generations, and
invest their capabilities not only in the reconstruction of Iraq. They
thus could bring their own internationally recognised institutions up to
international standards, while laying the foundations for and strengthening
the economic basis of their state. And, of course, preparing for their
ultimate return to their homeland, once conditions are seen to be right.
Meanwhile, Israel might undergo a social, economic and political transformation
all of its own, with property rights frozen or fully compensated, and those
Palestinians wishing to remain under Israeli administration participating
in the otherwise unrestricted development of its settlements and infrastructure
in all of the occupied areas.
4. The political catalysts for change - three prisoners and a "guest":
Marwan Barghouti, Sarwar Al-Hafeed, Abdullah Öcalan & Tariq Al-Hashimi
A trusted comrade-in-arms of the legendary Yasser Arafat, and one of the Palstinians' most respected leaders, Marwan Barghouti, has been arrested in 2002 by Israeli Defense Forces. He's been condemned on terrorist charges, while for others, like Israeli Uri Avnery, he may yet be allowed to become "Palestine's Mandela". All efforts by European lawmakers to visit him in jail have so far failed. And while he has been appraised by his lawyers of the above plans, it may take the initiative of more enlightened Israeli leaders to find out whether conditions are ripe yet, and whether Marwan is willing and capable to assume the mantle of a modern Moses and lead his fellow-Plestinians to mutually helpful new horizons.
Abdullah Öcalan, the founder and nominative leader of what Turkey and other states have called the Kurdish terror organisation PKK, was arrested in Kenya on Februar 15, 1999, brought to Turkey, condemned to death and - in accordance with Turkey's obligations as a co-founder of the Council of Europe - was later given a life sentence. In my extensive interview with Ekopolitik, I offered the following observations (www.solami.com/rebirth.htm#Oscalan):
"Being not married to any particular cause, creed or ethnic group may make some people uncertain, perhaps even uncomfortable. That may be the reason for Öscalan's alleged recent smearing of my name and work, even though I never had any contact with him. As an authoritarian leader with his cultural background, Öscalan may indeed not have had many opportunities to become accustomed to truly independent minds and persons. Yet, history has taught me not to rule out - and to give everybody the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise - that changing circumstances and the individual evolutionary process can transform anyone from being a part of the problem to becoming a part of the solution."Is Abdullah thus the carrier of practical and road-holding ideas which may help Turkey to effectively and lastingly resolve its "Kurdish question"? With his persistently high resonance factor among Turkish Kurds in particular, he would seem to have many cards to play - even from his prison island. And if his own religious background were not to stand in his way, he may even become a key partner for Turkey's eventual offer to extend the Lausanne Treaty's guarantees for non-Muslim minorities to Turkey's Kurdish Yezidi community. In as much as the leaders of the Yezidi community were themselves sufficiently visionary - and thus were willing to re-incorporate those wishing to reanimate their respective religious roots - that just might start to make a dent towards a mutually more secure, respectful and prosperous future - in Turkey and beyond its national borders.
Kurdish King Sheik Mahmoud's great-great-nephew Sarwar Salar Al-Hafeed became a medical doctor, working in Manchester UK, when he was kidnapped in bright daylight on May 30, 2006. So far, the British police has not been able to elucidate what some see as a political affaire. And his family was told only in July 2009 that he may be held in what then reportedly was a CIA-operated secret prison in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Sarwar had been instrumental in organising Massoud Barzani's commemoration for Sheik Mahmoud in Arbil on March 13-15, 2006 - without the personal participation of Jalal Talabani who preferred to organise his own self-aggrandizing commemoration six months later in Sulaimaniya. Both protagonists are understood to have or be able to obtain information on the fate of Sarwar. However, for reasons of their own, they have yet to be forthcoming. And they seem to prefer to wait until other knowledgeable persons may do so instead - or until other interested persons may call them to account. By the same token, it cannot even be excluded that either one is secretly preparing Sarwar somewhere to assume a more prominent role in regional matters - if and when that will suit their own agenda for the history books. Be that as it may, Sarwar's desparate berieved family would appreciate to learn more - from whoever has information.
Iraq's Sunni Vice-President
Tariq Al-Hashimi currently enjoys the protective hospitality of
Barzani. For Iraq's Shia Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki has accused the Vice-President of various
crimes which the latter denies and calls political persecution. This follows
the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq at the end of 2011. And it reflects
persistent controversies over power- and benefit-sharing, as well as religous
and internal and foreign policy issues. These include the implementation
of article 140 of Iraq's constitution (Kirkuk, Diyala, Kanakin, etc.),
oil law, KRG contracts with foreign oil companies, Sunny/Shia rifts, assassinations
and strong-arming, relations with Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.
After the fall of Saddam, the tripartite
plan of US Vice President Joe Biden - essentially an adaption of
the tribe-based Mosul Vilayet model
- drew interest particularly in the Basra and the Baghdad vilayets. An
intelligently devised sabbatical leave for Vice President Al-Hashimi
- be it in neighboring Turkey or on more neutral ground, e.g. in Switzerland
- would seem to offer all parties concerned significant time and space
for reflecting on current realities and exploring political opportunities
with friends abroad.
5. Water for oil
Turkey and Iran - not unlike Switzerland in the midst of Europe - are a "water-castle" of the Middle East, even the place where the four rivers encompassing the biblical Garden of Eden - Paraf (Euphrates), Hiddekel (Tigris), Gihon (Araxis or Aras) and the Uizon (Pishon) - are seen to have their origin (www.solami.com/a1.htm#rivers). Not unlike Switzerland, the guardians of the watercastle have special responsibilities, notably concerning the quality, quantity and timeliness of the water flowing to the riparian people living downstream. This has been reflected in international agreements involving various river basins all over the world. Law and hydraulic specialists have developed general principles for river basin developments, e.g the 1966 Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers, and the 2004 Berlin Rules on Water Resources which provide mutually helpful guideposts to negotiators of national authorities. Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Kuwait are thus seen to have much to discuss about with a long-term view to develop common understandings and mutually acceptable solutions in the increasingly crucial domain of water development. And again in the sense of the previously mentioned nine-star puzzle (.../puzzle.htm), nothing should prevent imaginative engineers, politicians and diplomats to add additional dimensions, such as oil and other mineral and energy resources, to their task. Which approach had been initiated by US President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Water for Peace Conference of May 1967 in Washington. And which may encourage notably Turkey and Iraq to envisage long-term agreements providing Iraq with secure water supplies and a voice in Turkey's upstream projects against a negotiated preferrential participation in the development of Iraq's petroleum resources.
6. Israel/Iran conflict
A key for many things is how a society, a state and its representatives perceives security, their role in history, the presence and the future, and how to fulfil it. Accordingly, with the onset of the nuclear age and the NPT symbolising methods and means the family of nations chose to deal with the peculiarities of this age, some fundamental observations concerning security and stability deserve mention (.../NPT.htm). The nuclear genie, of course, could not really be contained, and even less be pushed back into the proverbial bottle. In reality, deviding the world into haves and have-nots, into "responsible" and "irresponsible" governments foreseeably was counter-productive and ultimately prone to failure - on a high-risk level at that. Indeed, most such efforts to get a handle on the associated dangers and the involved forces were only driving them underground. Being out of sight, these forces and their activities have thus been even less controllable and more prone to giving rise to dangerous surprises. Yes, for the superficial politicians and diplomats of the day, they have had signed papers to show off with - essentially cheating themselves and the public at large. Yes, the number of formally recognised nuclear weapon powers was kept stable - but that didn't keep India, Pakistan and North Korea from stealthily going nuclear in reality. White Russia is supposed to have dismantled its nuclear arsenal, but has it in fact? Iraq, Syria, South Africa and others are understood to have pursued nuclear weapons programs clandestinely; some, like South Africa, are said to have volontarily given up the nuclear weapon option, while others had been discovered early on and given rise to external interventions. For public consumption then, the horizontal spread appears to have been contained somewhat - for the time being that is, and for those believing in the continued effectiveness of the system of sanction-imposed prohibitions and the threat of early detection of treaty violations which was devised by the League of Nations for getting a handle on the problems of drug production, trafficking and abuse.
For many years then, the world's security depended on the concept of mutual assured destruction (MAD), on the knowledge and intimate conviction of the superpower's political and military leaders that any conflict between them running out of control and eventually surpassing the nuclear threshold would result in a nuclear holocaust for both of them and the world at large. Vertical proliferation, i.e. weapons, delivery, launch & control, surveillance and communication systems seen to eventually entail a first-strike capability thus were - on both sides - considered as inadmissably destabilising - thus the numerous nuclear armament control treaties. Similarly, the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons and related capabilities became a key international objective for both superpowers in the form of said Non-Proliferation Treaty NPT (www.solami.com/NPT.htm). Despite of these treaties and their enforcement mechanisms, on September 26, 1983 the world was just 8 min away from the nuclear abyss. For on that day, the computers at a Soviet satellite surveillance station signalled four different US first-strike satellite launches. And it seems that the world was spared World War III only because Stanislav Petrov, the unsang hero and subsequently even punished Soviet commander of that station had not trusted the repeated computer alarms and - disobeying formal orders - stopped their transmission and translation into almost automatic 8 min counter-launch orders (.../summit.htm#arte). On this then-unbeknownst background, a Swiss lawmaker initiative worth mentioning was started on November 9, 1983 (.../edouardbrunner.htm#Reagan). It provided for the US and the USSR General Staff Chiefs to meet in Switzerland for developing a minimum personal trust to each other for overcoming eventual technical and other emergencies. It was sucessfully followed through, eventually leading to the historic Reagan-Gorbatchev meeting in Geneva (.../summit.htm).
Could a similar meeting somewhere between
the Iranian Chief of the General Staff and his Israeli counterpart be helpful
under current circumstances? Of course, as always, the real test of the
pudding is in its eating. And as for confidence-building measures, inspiration
might be drawn for a mutually agreeable solution to nuclear issues of mutual
concern by going back to the American-Swiss Treaty for building,
operating and dismantling - on foreign territory but under US sovereignty
- the US demonstration nuclear reactor at the UN Atoms-for-Peace Conference
in Geneva of 1955 (U.S./Swiss
Agreement for co-operation concerning civil uses of atomic energy,
18 July 1955, UN Treaty Series 1956, no.3388, p.311-322: .../Saphir.tif).
Iran's uranium enrichment facilities are generally agreed to be
compatible with the Nuclear
Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and the IAEA's NPT
safeguards agreement (INFCIRC
153) of 1972 (.../NPT.htm). Yet they are
considered-by-some-to-be inacceptable on national security grounds. Under
said American model, Iran's contested nuclear facilities might be
operated in Iran under the sovereignty of a mutually agreed third party
(see Swiss Parliamentary
Motion 06.3103 (.../parlament.htm#063103). As pointed out in a further
Swiss lawmaker initiative, other significant
instruments are available in the nuclear field (.../parlament.htm#083402).
And an eventually even more solidly and lastingly confidence-building measure
might be found in an extension or an adaption of the current Jordan-based
multinational nuclear research program SESAME where Israeli and Iranian
scientists are already at work (.../sesame.htm). Ultimately, a fully NPT-compatible
joint research and development effort on the most advanced micro-explosion
fusion front - as formally liberated from NPT-constraints at the 1975 NPT
review conference (1) - might offer for
all interested parties a pathway into a more collaborative and mutually
7. Opportunities for enlightened politicians and diplomats
a) The young generation of the Middle East is not content with many of current policies and leaders. In Northern Iraq, they have found a natural leader in the founder and head of the new Goran party, Mustafa Nawshirwan. And in as much as they know about the Mosul Vilayet project and its variation providing for the establishment of a pre-eminent Mosul Vilayet Senate (www.solami.com/senate.doc), they recognise it as a cooperative, consensus-oriented alternative to the current mutually alienating policies burdening their Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkomen and Yezidi communities (.../assyrians.htm ¦ .../icesc.htm#Yezidi). They are almost unanimously supporting it as a vehicle for their aspirations and as a source of inspiration and hope. Their main demands have been real change to transparent institutions and policies, facilitated travel & education abroad, and civil & economic liberties freeing them from state tutelage. And while they reject interested external support for discredited policies, institutions and primarily self-serving leaders, they welcome genuine support to get rid of what are seen to be no-future "small Saddams", cherry-pickers and false-flag hijackers of the Mosul Vilayet project.
b) Iraq's still valid Declaration of May 30, 1932 (.../a3a.htm#DECLARATION) provides for international minority protection and private property garantees and obligations, with special emphasis on the Mosul Vilayet (.../a3a.htm#obligations). It can serve as Iraq's fundamental law, providing for the resolution of many currently blocked issues. A simple UN General Assembly resolution - initiated by either Iraq or an interested UN member state, such as Turkey - is needed to activate its full potential to the benefit of all of Iraq's constituent communities (.../UNGA.htm#1946).
c) Iraq's central leaders may also find it useful to promote regional stability by supporting the Mosul Vilayet project, for it offers not only viable and generally supportable internal solutions, but also opportunities for good offices on many borderline (e.g. PKK) and external fronts (e.g. Iran/Israel).
d) Baghdad's control of Arbil is about as effective as Arbil's control of the Kandil mountains - KRG leaders' perennial promises to the contrary notwithstanding.
e) Israel's huge shale oil and gas reserves offer the opportunity for a strategic alliance notably between Iraq and Israel, with a possible mutually beneficial sovereignty swap on suitable fields (.../oil.htm). In this, too the Palestinian leadership - notably Hamas - could become a political catalyst.
In summary, let me quote again from my Ekopolitik interview of July 27, 2007 (.../rebirth.htm#vision):
"Let me begin with a personal vision for the Mosul Vilayet and its perennially down trodden inhabitants. What is now Northern Iraq has been a religious, cultural and economic crossroad area since Suleyman the Magnificent, Alexander the Great and the Pharaoh Akhenaton. God willing and due to hard work, vision and determination of its constituent communities and their leaders and neighbors, the Mosul Vilayet will be the core area from which the Middle East will be reshaped in line with its traditions and obliging inheritance and in accordance with the needs and legitimate aspirations of its peoples. To be sure, we are not talking about a resurrection of the Ottoman Empire, but I expect the Mosul Vilayet leaders to carefully build on still relevant roots - like the Ottoman land registry - and draw much inspiration from that experience as well. Accordingly, the Mosul Vilayet Council has been intended and is set to serve as vehicle for this vision to become reality. In fact all MVC members have formally pledged to contribute their part for the Mosul Vilayet to evolve into the secure, stabilizing and universally beneficial center properly reflecting its enlightening past.__________
In a nutshell, this is the wider dimension of the problems, of the opportunities at hand. For we are living now in the whole Middle East with wars. One very knowledgeable colleague, Richard Anderegg, has called them the "wars of Ottoman Empire succession." I'm inclined to recognize some of their currently again very influential roots to go back much further in history. I mean one can see in what's happening around us less in terms of residual waves of what's called the fights of the Diadochs, than as Akhenaton succession wars (.../a1.htm). That, of course, is a far wider perspective and requires opening up our minds and the angle of our lenses. But as we may see later, it may be worth it, if we are serious about unlocking the current Mid-Eastern gridlock.
So for now, lets content ourselves with the more recent history. As I mentioned before in various writings - and as I persistently come back to that when the opportunity presents itself - there are still open wounds from the break-up of the Ottoman Empire. They have only been plastered over, but never given a chance to be healed. Maybe that is because our leaders never found an opportunity to properly address the regional problems on a long term basis, with proper consideration of the peoples' background, their cultural specifity, and their fundamental needs and legitimate aspirations.
In this perspective it is worth noting the MVC’s Third Declaration of October 20, 1992, which states that in Ankara on May 15, 1992, the Mosul Vilayet Council "was formally brought into existence as the supreme secular authority of the Mosul Vilayet, wherein all indigenous Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and Turkomans have the right to be equitably represented by their own leaders."
Five hundred years ago Switzerland was in a state similar to that of Northern Iraq today. We were also having competing forces, not many admitted that others could also have a good idea. Each one was king himself. The culture of cooperation, of accepting the other as an equal to you, and of real power sharing, took hundreds of years for catching roots and eventually turning Switzerland into what it is today. In our case of Northern Iraq we are far from that, but maybe we can helpfully point to this example and, in the event, to assist those interested in accelerating the realization of this aim.
Seen from this - albeit inconclusive - vantage point, it would not appear to be helpful if the international community were to grant the Kurds their independence now. To begin with, it would ignore the lessons of history and, instead of promoting regional stability, it might in fact cause the opposite and turn out to be a huge disservice to both the Kurds, their brethren in One God, and their neighbors. They seem to need at least a generation for healing their wounds, reconciling themselves and developing the institutions for self-government and non-violent resolution of overlapping land claims in particular. Like the Mosul Vilayet's authochtone Arabs, Assyrians, Turkomen and Yezidis, they are keenly aware of the imperative need to overcome centrifugal forces among these constituent communities as an indispensable precondition for international recognition as a sovereign entity and a sovereign people. I told it to all my Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkomen and Yezidi friends that they should not count on anybody to solve these basic problems for them, and that the Mosul Vilayet concept is an externally supportable, but not the only one with which they may get to the point not of fake democracy but of genuine self-government based on an informed, cooperative and responsibility-assuming citizenry."
(1) "Bien que cela n'apparaisse pas dans la déclaration finale, il y a lieu de souligner tout spécialement, à propos de cet article [IV], que les Etats-Unis et le Royaume-Uni ont déclaré pendant la conférence que, selon leur interprétation de cet article, les micro-explosions, qui représentent éventuellement une technique d'avenir pour l'utilisation pacifique de la fusion nucléaire, ne tombaient pas sous le coup de l'interdiction prévue par le traité et que par conséquent, les matières nécessaires à ces explosions, et en particulier l'uranium fortement enrichi, pouvaient être mis à disposition sans que cela représente une violation du TNP. L'URSS ne s'est pas opposée à ces déclarations." (Rapport supplémentaire ad12083, Conseil Fédéral, 28 janvier 1976, FF 1976 723)