Iraq: making the most of a fiasco
- 29 Mar 2010
- Start time
- 7:30 PM
- The Hospitium
- Prof Ewan Anderson
IRAQ: making the most of the fiasco
by Prof Ewan Anderson, University of Exeter
The Iraq Inquiry has highlighted the extreme political chaos surrounding the war. With no post-conflict planning, the country rapidly descended into several civil wars featuring the main ethnic-religious groups: the Kurds, the Sunni Arabs and the Shia Arabs. During negotiations, the Kurds, autonomous for over a decade, were promised an agreement by the end of 2007 over what constituted Kurdistan. This never materialised and the boundary of Kurdistan remains a major issue of contention. The importance of the boundary for the future of Iraq and the problems associated with its delimitation will be discussed and a range of possible options will be examined.
By Rod Leonard
In keeping with the lecture title, the meeting venue had to be switched at the last minute from the Hospitium to the Bay Horse public house. Unfazed, Prof Anderson outlined the political intrigues that have plagued Iraq over the last 100 years, culminating in the virtual destruction of this ancient civilization in the two Gulf Wars. A particular problem is establishing agreed boundaries for the relatively rich, semi-autonomous Kurdish regions in the north of Iraq. There have been many failed attempts, with perhaps the most persuasive being based on the Tigris River and a mountain range in the south. The Kurds are distinguished from the warring Sunni and Shia Moslems in the south by ethnicity, language and religion. Other complicating factors include frequent warring amongst the Kurds themselves, the restitution of property confiscated from the Kurds, the presence of huge oil and gas reserves near Kirkuk, and vested interests of Turkey, Iran, and the Western powers. Prof Anderson is helping prepare an independent report for a bilateral commission, charged with resolving this Byzantine problem.
Professor Anderson is most grateful for the support given by The Leverhulme Trust for his research on the Kurdistan boundary.