[The Times, U.K.]



NRC Handelsblad, The Netherlands

Iraq's Full Sovereignty Must Now Be Restored


"But in the coming years, Iraq's fragile cohesion could oblige the Americans to spring into action. A civil war in a country with enormous energy resources would be an international nightmare."




Translated By Meta Mertens


June 30, 2009


The Netherlands - NRC Handelsblad - Original Article (Dutch)

Iraqi soldiers on parade to mark the withdrawal of U.S. forced from Iraq's cities and towns, June 30.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.S. forces leave the cities of Iraq, June 30, 00:02:37RealVideo

As Prime Minister Maliki described it earlier, today is the end of the “occupation of Iraq.” Tomorrow, the American military will not longer patrol Baghdad or other Iraqi cities. After midnight tonight, their military duties will be taken over by Iraqi units.


This must be the beginning of the full recovery of Iraq's sovereignty. By August 31, 2010, the last American fighting units will have left the country. The last minute of the final day of patrol in Baghdad claimed the lives of four American soldiers. If all else goes according plan, they will be remembered as the last victims of a war of liberation that turned into a guerilla occupation.


Just last week, Prime Minister Maliki christened June 30th a day of “great victory” comparable to the “Great Iraqi Revolution” of 1920.


That revolt, of both Shiites and Sunnis, was aimed at their British rulers. It grew into a kind of guerilla war, particularly with the Kurds , who attempted to realize their aspirations for nationhood - withdrawing only after an extraordinarily violent response from the British. Ninety years later, the Kurds are again playing a crucial role, deciding whether this plan for withdrawal will result in a stable and sovereign Iraq.


[Guardian Unlimited, U.K.]


The Sunni minority that has traditionally dominated Iraq isn't likely to factor in, and now stands in the shadow of the Shiite majority. Over the past few weeks, the number killed in violent attacks has risen - and that violence will not diminish. Elections must be held within the next six months, so the struggle for power and therefore sources of revenue will escalate at every level. The stakes can only grow. Today, Iraq began auctioning leases for eight enormous oil and gas fields. It is hoped that due to these transactions, cash flows into the political arena will rise spectacularly.


The power struggle over oil and gas extends to Kurdistan. To be specific, the position of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is contested by all parties - and to such an extent that a violent conflict cannot be ruled out. The Kurds, who have far-reaching autonomy in their own area, claim Kirkuk. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government doesn't want to give up Kirkuk's oil fields, so has stationed troops there.


That's dangerous, because the key issues since 2003 have yet to be resolved: whether the nation's energy resources belong to the state or regions; or if the state should take on a federal structure and how the boundary lines would be drawn in that case. This has yet to be unequivocally and constitutionally determined.





Thanks to the "surge" and the beginning of the American withdrawal, the country appears to have a minimum of peace. But even after six years - not by any stretch of the imagination - is there is a coherent national political entity.


One way or another, that fragile cohesion could oblige the Americans to spring into action in the coming years. A civil war in a country with enormous energy resources would be an international nightmare. Maliki's analogy to 1920 is fitting in that sense. A “Great Revolution” may end up having counterproductive effects.










































































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 2, 2:55am]