Monday, November 05, 2007

Zogby Urges Return to Iraq Study Group Recommendations

Dr. James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC, believes that the war in Iraq is far from over - and may soon get worse. He says it could and should have been foreseen. All the warning signs were there. In Northern Iraq, the file of historical grievances of the Kurdish people has been opened and it won't close anytime soon.

Over the past decade, Iraq's Kurds have prospered under a US-protected umbrella. With the collapse of the regime in Baghdad, Kurdish hopes of expanding their autonomy grew, and with it, their ambition as well. The Kurdish Provisional Authority (KPA) has become, for all intents and purposes, a state within a failing state. With its own flag and military, and its own Washington representation, the KPA is moving inexorably towards independence.

When Dr. Zogby refers to the KPA's "own Washington representation," this story (from the WaPo) is a good part of what he's talking about. I have written [in 2005, in 2006, in 2007] about my deep concerns about the conflict of ethics and interest when well-paid K-Street lobbyists become de-facto U.S. diplomats in war-torn regions. It's akin to letting Blackwater fight our nation's wars. It's against every democratic principle intended by the Founding Fathers to keep our Republic from falling into a state of corruption and oligarchy.

Dr. Zogby revisits the Iraq Study Group recommendations, surely making neoconservatives shiver as he invokes the name of their Straussian devil known as the U.N. This idea acknowledges an interdependent world, but threatens the hijack-hold the neocons still have on U.S. foreign policy, thanks to the Presient's delusions of one-day historic greatness, and the intellectual shortcomings and raw partisan ambitions of the Bush administration and the U.S. Republican party:

With Turkey and Iran both bombing Kurdish positions within the KPA and threatening an even greater response if the insurgent groups are not controlled, the US sees the possibility that its one Iraqi success story may give way to the opening of a new front in what will become an even more complicated war.

This all should have been understood before the war began, but was not. And that is why one of the principal recommendations of the Iraq Study Group is as valid today as when it was written. And that is the necessity of creating a regional security pact to bring together all the component groups inside Iraq, along with Iraq's neighbours, under the auspices of the UN, so that problems of this sort are not tackled piece meal. Iraq's neighbours have a direct stake in the stability and unity of Iraq and are better made partners towards that goal than a collection of allies and rivals.

There is a new framework from which the UN could be instrumental in resolving the Kurdish question. Recently passed (without a 'YES' vote from the United States) was the Human Rights Council Resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [pdf]. It's a declaration that could give indigenous peoples like the Kurds a valuable tool even though, still imperfect, the agreement’s non-binding nature leaves indigenous peoples to rely upon the political will of nation states as each respective state creates a framework for working with their indigenous populations. A great leader would take Dr. Zogby's advice and go back to the Iraq Study Group recommendations and implement the new UN Declaration framework in a way that would bring an end to U.S. occupationand bring peace to the region and fairness to the Kurds by involving and placing responsibility with all of Iraq's neighbors.