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These areas, security officials say, were inaccessible to Iraqi forces well before the rise of ISIS, and remain so today. After the US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda militants and other Sunni armed groups dug a warren of tunnels in those areas to serve as hideouts and weapons caches. Such areas are the ancestral homes of Sunni tribes often perceived to be cooperating with ISIS extremists by Iraqi paramilitary forces, who have now taken control of the surrounding zones.

Driven from their homes by years of fighting and violence, members of these tribes now live in sprawling camps and many are refusing to return home for fear of "revenge" attacks, said Amnesty International. According to her, "the IDPs who are not going home" are doing so because "they fear An April report by Amnesty revealed that women and children perceived of having links to ISIS and living in IDP camps were denied aid and prevented from returning to their homes.

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Women were also "subjected to rape and sexual exploitation" by security forces, administrators of camps and local officials, Amnesty said at the time. Ms Salihy said there is concern for the children of these women, describing the youngsters as like "ticking bombs". In fact, key officials of the administration have a history of indifference to, and ignorance of, the subject of Kurdish nationalism. Nor were neoconservative ideologues—who had the most-elaborate visions of a liberal, democratic Iraq—interested in the Kurdish cause, or even particularly knowledgeable about its history.

Guide: What's happening in Iraq? - CBBC Newsround

After the event, Podhoretz seemed authentically bewildered. The list includes, notably, the likelihood that the Kurds will achieve their independence and that Iraq will go the way of Gaul and be divided into three parts—but it also includes much more than that. The precariousness of such states as Lebanon and Pakistan, of course, predates the invasion of Iraq. It used to be that the most far-reaching and inventive question one could ask about the Middle East was this: How many states, one or two—Israel or a Palestinian state, or both—will one day exist on the slip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River?

Today, that question seems trivial when compared with this one: How many states will there one day be between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates River? And why stop at the western bank of the Euphrates? Why not go all the way to the Indus River? Long-term instability could lead to the breakup of many of these states. All states are man-made. But some are more man-made than others.

It was Winston Churchill a bust of whom Bush keeps in the Oval Office who, in the aftermath of World War I, roped together three provinces of the defeated and dissolved Ottoman Empire, adopted the name Iraq, and bequeathed it to a luckless branch of the Hashemite tribe of west Arabia. Churchill would eventually call the forced inclusion of the Kurds in Iraq one of his worst mistakes—but by then, there was nothing he could do about it.

The Middle East's cold war, explained

The British, together with the French, gave the world the modern Middle East. In addition to manufacturing the country now called Iraq, the grand Middle East settlement shrank Turkey by the middle of the s to the size of the Anatolian peninsula; granted what are now Syria and Lebanon to the French; and kept Egypt under British control. The British also broke Palestine in two, calling its eastern portion Trans-Jordan and installing a Hashemite prince, Abdullah, as its ruler, and at the same time promising Western Palestine to the Jews, while implying to the Arabs there that it was their land, too.

Of course, the current turbulence in the Middle East is attributable also to factors beyond the miscalculations of both the hubristic, seat-of-the-pants Bush administration and the hubristic, seat-of-the-pants French and British empires. Among other things, there is the crisis within Islam, a religion whose doctrinal triumphalism—Muslims believe the Koran to be the final, authoritative word of God—is undermined daily by the global balance of power, with predictable and terrible consequences see: the life of Mohammed Atta et al.

The region is being transformed; that transformation is just turning out to be a different, and possibly far broader, one than imagined. Envisioning what the Middle East might look like five or 10 or 50 years from now is by definition a speculative exercise. At the State Department and on the National Security Council, there is a poverty of imagination to borrow a phrase from the debate about the causes of chronic intelligence failure about the shifting map of the region.

Formulating a foreign policy after Iraq will require coming to terms with a reshaped Middle East, and thinking about it in new ways. In an effort to understand the shape of things to come in the Middle East, I spent several weeks speaking with more than 25 experts and traveling to Iraq, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel. Many of the conversations were colored, naturally, by the ideological predispositions of those I talked with.

Why Is Trump Sending More Troops and Firepower to the Middle East? That's Classified

The realists quake at instability, which threatens as they see it the only real American interest in the Middle East, the uninterrupted flow of Arab oil. Pro-Palestinian academics blame Israel, and its friends in Washington, for trying to force the collapse of the Arab state system. The liberal interventionists lament the poor execution of the Iraq War, and wish that the Bush administration had gone about exporting democracy to the Middle East with more subtlety and less hypocrisy.

Many experts I spoke to ventured that it would be foolish to predict what will happen in the Middle East next Tuesday, let alone in , or in —but that it would also be foolish not to be actively thinking about, and preparing for, what might come next. S o what might, in fact, come next? The most important first-order consequence of the Iraq invasion, envisioned by many of those I spoke to, is the possibility of a regional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites for theological and political supremacy in the Middle East.

Jordan, which is an indispensably important American ally, is a Sunni country, but its population is also majority-Palestinian, and many of those Palestinians support the Islamist Hamas movement, one of whose main sponsors is Shiite Iran. There are likely second-order consequences, as well. Rampant Kurdish nationalism, unleashed by the invasion, may spill over into the Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iran. An American decision to confront Iran could have an enduring impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process—a tenuous undertaking to begin with—because the chief enemies of compromise are the Iranian-backed terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Then there are third-order consequences: in the next 20 years, new states could emerge as old ones shrink, fracture, or disappear. Khuzestan, a mostly Arab province of majority-Persian Iran, could become independent.

The plan to remake the Middle East.

Lebanon, whose existence is perpetually inexplicable, could become partly absorbed by Syria, whose future is also uncertain. Syria, out of a population of 20 million, has roughly 2 million Kurds, who are mostly indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to the government in Damascus.

And the next decades might see the birth of one or two Palestinian states—and, perhaps, the end of Israel as a Jewish state, a fervent dream of much of the Muslim world. In so doing, he undermined the idea of Pakistan as a naturally unitary state. You faced larger problems than we ever have. Musharraf also made passing reference to the Afghan-Pakistan border, the so-called Durand Line. It was named after the English official who in forced the Afghans to accept it as their border with British India, even though it sliced through the territory of a large ethnic group, the truculent Pashtuns, who dominate Afghan politics and warmaking and who have always disliked and, accordingly, disrespected the line.

Musharraf warned about the hazards of even thinking about the line. It is best to leave borders alone. All of this is very confusing, of course. Many Americans including, until not so long ago, President Bush do not know the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni, let alone between a Sindhi and a Punjabi.


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Peters is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and intelligence expert who writes frequent critiques of U. He wrote of his map,. Peters drew onto his map an independent Kurdistan and an abridged Turkey; he shrank Iran handing over Khuzestan to an as-yet-imaginary Arab-Shiite state he carved out of what is now southern Iraq ; he placed Jordan and Yemen on a steroid regimen; and he dismembered Saudi Arabia because he sees it as a primary enemy of Muslim modernization. It was an act of knowing whimsy, he said.

The answer is no. That's not the kind of thing that leads a country like the United States to commit the kind of military forces that we're committing to this effort—right now, to try to make our diplomacy work, but ultimately, perhaps, if the diplomacy doesn't work, to take military action. There's no way. What we would be using military power for, if we have to, would be the goals the President has talked about, particularly the elimination of the chemical and biological weapons, and preventing Iraq from getting nuclear weapons.

Once you contemplate using military force for that purpose, and you're thinking about what do you do afterward, that's when you can think that if we do things right, and if we help the Iraqis, and if the Iraqis show an ability to create a humane representative government for themselves—will that have beneficial spillover effects on the politics of the whole region? The answer, I think, is yes.

I asked Feith about the prospects for a few specific countries besides Iraq. Might there be regime change in Iran, for example? Not every government that falls around the world is connected to the war on terrorism. There were governments falling for millennia—before the United States came along, before the war on terrorism. There are all kinds of reasons that governments fall.

And it is clear that the Iranian government is very unpopular. And the clerics in the regime are corrupt. And the population is very young throughout the country. I forget the exact numbers, but I think more than half the people in the country were born after the Khomeini revolution. So there are people who believe that the Iranian government is not going to have a tenure that goes out into the indefinite future, because they're very unpopular with their people. Would he be willing to say anything about the future of the government of Syria, which may be the world's leading haven for terrorist organizations, since it openly plays host to Islamic Jihad, in Damascus, and Hezbollah, in Lebanon?

He smiled. Stephen Cambone, who has an E Ring office that is somewhat smaller than Feith's, is big and athletic-looking, and he speaks more guardedly than Feith does—almost in code, rather than in Feith's full, elegant sentences. When I asked him how an American victory in Iraq might affect other Middle Eastern countries, he said, "The leadership in the countries in that region is changing. You've seen changes in Syria, you've seen them in Jordan; there will, over some period of time, be changes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and other places.

The Palestinians.

The way in which Iraq affects the calculations of those governments and their populations. He mentioned the "transshipment of oil, and illicit flows, and trade coming in that you try to avoid sanctions against," which produce an "undercutting, or undermining, of what would otherwise be the standard and ordinary relationships among states which would otherwise have their relationship based on mutual interest. Jordan is also dependent on Iraqi oil, which means that its government has to tolerate Saddam's political wooing of the country's Palestinian majority.

If Iraqi oil came with different ideological strings attached, these governments might feel freer to resist Islamic radicalism openly. Will there be further regime changes in the Middle East? So should a conflict, and I underline should , if , maybe — There is a prospect that things, yeah, I think things could change in many of those places.

Now, things could also go badly. One should not discount, for all that one can imagine good things happening, the prospect that things that would not be helpful or positive could occur, too"—especially, he added, if the United States and its allies do not manage the postwar period adeptly. Is the hope of effecting secondary changes part of the motivation for war?

Cambone thought for a long moment. I don't know how to answer that. That is all part and parcel of how one thinks through the problem. It is understandable that people in positions like Feith's and Cambone's have to speak very carefully. One can, however, get a sense from other sources of at least one version of a remade Middle East. Lately, Washington hawk-watchers have been passing around a document called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which was written in , by an eight-member committee, as advice for Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister.

The head of the committee was Richard Perle, who is probably Washington's leading vocal advocate of regime change in Iraq; another committee member was Douglas Feith. Although Wurmser certainly doesn't lack moral fervor, he is a strategic thinker who wants to realign the power relationships in the region. For Wurmser, the larger enemy is the ideology of Pan-Arabism, which he presents as the Middle East's version of the various forms of totalitarianism that swept across Europe in the twentieth century.

The true choice in the region is between "the traditional Arab elite and revolutionary Arab nationalists. Bringing down Saddam, Wurmser predicts, would have the happy effect of destabilizing both Syria and Iran.