Author|Books|Articles/Lectures|Foreign Translations  Ecomonitors Latest News |New Release

"Blueprint For Preventing Iraq's Descent Into Chaos"

Present day Iraq was a British construct after the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War II. In less than a century after its formation the British along with their American allies are in the forefront for the deconstruction of Iraq. The trifurcation of Iraq, should it come about, will not be very different from the three original Ottoman provinces that were amalgamated in 1922 and placed under a Hashemite King. While Iraq itself may have been unified comparatively recently by the British, Baghdad, its capital, has a much longer history that has been woven into the myths and legends of the Middle East for over a millennium. In fact, no other city of the Arab world embodies so distinctly the Arabian flavour than Baghdad. From AD 786-809, under fabled Haroon al-Rashid - who established relations with China’s Tang Dynasty and the emperor Charlemagne - Baghdad gave the world astronomy, alchemy, hydraulics, diplomacy, fiscal administration and the postal service. Up to the early 12th century it remained the most important intellectual center in the world. Baghdad had been under siege by the Assyrians and later by Cyrus the Great from Persia. However, it was only in 1258 that Baghdad was sacked for the first time by the Mongols riding under the command of Hulagu, the grandson of Genghis Khan. Legend has it that he erected a pyramid of 700,000 skulls out of his victims. In 1401, another foreign invader, the Turco-Mongol Tamerlane ("Timur the Lame"), devastated Baghdad yet again. Then for six centuries Baghdad managed to survive relatively peacefully till the “shock and awe” visited upon its inhabitants by the 2003 invasion of the Anglo-American combine.
In the most recent invasion a figure of over half a million deaths is already being mentioned for the Iraqis since the March 2003 invasion. This figure could go up considerably if the deaths of young children caused due to malnutrition and lack of medicines were to be taken into account since the 1991 invasion of Iraq. In the latter case one or two million deaths had been reported. During the shock and awe bombing of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, most notably Fallujah, Depleted Uranium (DU) was freely used. The use of DU could lead to very large number of casualties for the coming generations exposed to it either directly or indirectly. That is not all. The manner in which Iraq is sought to be vacated by the occupying forces could lead to further sectarian killings on a much larger scale than is presently the case. Iraq and the Iraqis have suffered enough. Surely, a way can be found to prevent Iraq from descending into a condition of semi-permanent chaos. In the ensuing paragraphs a plan of action for preventing a cataclysmic break up of Iraq is spelled out.

The Action Plan

The Action Plan comprises three distinct components as under:
- Status of the city of Baghdad
- Restructuring Iraqi Armed Forces
- Functioning of the Federal Structure
Each of these aspects is amplified below.

The Status Of The City Of Baghdad

The key to the stabilization of Iraq is the stabilization of the city of Baghdad; the key to the re-development of Iraq is the redevelopment of Baghdad.
First the outline plan:
- Baghdad to be declared a separate city-state.
- Security of Baghdad
- Law and order in Baghdad
- Administering Baghdad city-state
- Infrastructure development of Baghdad
- Restoring Civic Services in Baghdad
- Turning Baghdad into the cultural and education center of the Arab World.

Baghdad to be Declared Separate City-State

Baghdad should be declared a separate city-state with a clearly delineated perimeter. Its status could be akin to the Vatican Status in concert with the pattern of administration followed for Chandigarh, the city design by the French architect, Le Corbusier in the early 1950s. After the trifurcation of Punjab shortly after the Independence of India, both the States of Punjab and Haryana laid claim to Chandigarh as the capital of their respective states. Without going into details the present status of Chandigarh is that it is centrally administered as a Union Territory with both the Punjab and Haryana state governments locating their governing complexes in the city. As of now the model functions satisfactorily with the people of Chandigarh happy to be administered under a central government dispensation. Neither Punjab nor Haryana have had any difficulty in carrying out the governing functions of their respective states from Chandigarh.

Security of Baghdad

The security of Baghdad should be handed over for an initial ten-year period to a military force provided by the Egyptian government. The Government of Egypt would designate an Egyptian Army Corps for exclusive deployment in the city of Baghdad. To cater for expenses associated with the task Egypt would be paid US $ 2 billion per annum for all expenses related to the security functions performed by the Corps in Baghdad. Every two years a review could be undertaken for assessing the operating expenses involved and the amount augmented if necessary. Similarly, the Corps could be beefed up by the Egyptian Government based on ground conditions. Payment to the latter would initially be dispensed by the US government.
The Corps Commander, whose credentials would be vetted by the US and the Iraq government would be given total freedom to restore law and order for the first two years. The Egyptian Corps would function in a manner similar to the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) that the US government negotiates for its troops deployed on overseas duties.
The Egyptian Corps Commander would be supervised by a Supervisory Committee comprising designated representatives from the following: The US ambassador in Iraq; Head of the UK Forces in Iraq; Representative of the Iraqi Government; Representative of the UN Secretary General; Representative of the World Health Organisation. Under clear guidelines framed by the Supervisory Council the Egyptian Force Commander would have a free hand to restore normalcy in Baghdad. For carrying out this task he could impose martial law in designated segments of the city for given periods of time in order to rid the city of weapons of all types held by individuals, militias or organizations operating outside the law or against the rules for holding or carrying of weapons promulgated by the Egyptian Force Commander. The Egyptian Forces deployed for the purpose would have the freedom to launch any type of operations for ridding the city of clandestine weapons or individuals or groupings attempting to take the law into their own hands. For security and restoration of law and order in Baghdad the Egyptian Force would be the sole force deployed for the purpose. The Iraqi Army would be based in camps situated outside the periphery of the city in designated areas. The Army Headquarters would remain in Baghdad. The US Army would be responsible for providing security cordon around the periphery of Baghdad city-state and for manning all entry and exit points along designated routes. All entities, including the US Government locations, the Iraq Government complexes, foreign embassies, Iraq armed forces headquarters and the like would be permitted to deploy security elements for protection of their respective complexes in situ as well as for protection of VVIPs, designated dignitaries or individuals. All other protection within the city would be provided by the Egyptian forces. The latter would have the authority to shoot or apprehend elements carrying weapons or causing disorder. All militias would be given notice by the Egyptian force commander to exit the capital within a given time frame, after which they would be liable to be summarily apprehended and incarcerated or executed. Zero tolerance in this regard would be the order of the day. In executing his task the Egyptian force commander will not be hampered by any of the other entities holding power in Iraq.

Maintenance of Law and Order & Administration in Baghdad City-State

Security and day-to-day law and order are complementary functions. To begin with security as well as law and order would be handled by the Egyptian forces. They would take help from the existing police forces. Suspect elements would be weeded out and replaced by carefully selected personnel. The local police could be supplemented by the military police personnel of both the US and Egyptian forces. Once a semblance of security for the citizens of Baghdad has been ensured the strengthened local police, augmented by carefully selected fresh inductees, would gradually assume routine law and order functions. Stringent selection procedures would be established for recruiting local magistrates, superior judiciary for the city-state and other administrative elements. All persons selected would remain secular and function as per international norms prevalent in well-established democracies. Where necessary civil servants and magistrates could be hired internationally for fixed tenures with Baghdadi understudies. Gradually the citizens of Baghdad would assume all responsibilities for self-governance, including local elections under neutral supervisory authorities. Here again, persons showing signs of sectarianism would be excluded.
For the first three years the costs of running the administration of Baghdad would be borne by the Central government and international donors. Thereafter, as trade, commerce and services pick up local taxes would be levied till the time Baghdad becomes financially self-sustaining.

Infrastructure Development & Restoring Civic Services in Baghdad

Going by the size of the population affected, the people of Baghdad have suffered the most since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. For the average Iraqi living conditions, which were appalling in the earlier stages have remained abysmal in spite of the billions of dollars that have been sunk in. To put it mildly the money was misspent. Along with the stabilization of the security situation in the city the immediate priorities would be: restoration of electricity, water supplies and health and hygiene. Other development projects would be taken up for turning the city into a modern metropolis with first-rate transportation. International tenders could be floated under the aegis of a neutral body with impeccable credentials. Many of these services could be built on BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) basis. They would provide employment to local Iraqis from the city. Middle class and wealthy Iraqis who have moved out to other countries would be invited back to help in the re-building and re-vitalization of the Baghdad city-state, which, in less than ten years could become one of the finest cities of the Middle East - a modern day version of the fabled dream city of the great Caliph Haroun-Al-Rashid.

Turning Baghdad into the Cultural & Education Centre of the Arab World

Universities and entities from around the world would be invited to set up modern educational, cultural and recreational facilities. Initially these would be developed for the Baghdadis. Later on they would be thrown open to all Iraqis and students selected from the rest of the Arab World. It would be the endeavour of all concerned to ensure that the education provided remains modern and secular. Friendly governments could also chip in to set up high tech facilities in the city. At the end of the day the aim would be to develop Baghdad into the most admired and vibrant capital in the Arab World.

Restructuring Iraqi Armed Forces

The broad outlines for restructuring of the Iraqi Armed Forces include, inter alia:
- The army to be divided into three commands: The Southern Command comprising Shiite divisions formed into one or two corps; Central Command comprising Sunni troops for the Sunni dominated central region; The Northern Command for deployment exclusively in the Kurdish region consisting of Kurdish troops.
- Simultaneously a composite command could be envisaged of carefully selected troops from all denominations. After suitable training they would become the nucleus of specialist units.
-The army headquarters located in Baghdad would comprise senior officers and personnel selected for their national and secular outlook and proven competence.
-In the first phase the three Commands would be responsible for security in their respective geographic commands. They would also be responsible for guarding the borders of Iraq in their designated sectors.
- Academies and officers’ training schools would be set up for joint training in facilities set up in Baghdad. All officers selected for training, basic as well as advanced, would be carefully vetted.
-Training facilities for non-commissioned officers and other ranks would be set up under respective regional commands.
- Medical, nursing and other specialized services would operate directly under Army headquarters and allocated to commands on as required basis.
Other details for professionalising the army have not been included in this short paper. These can be spelt out a later stage.

Functioning Of The Federal Structure

The broad parameters of the proposed trifurcation of Iraq along federal lines have been discussed in various forums. Much of the mayhem has resulted from irresoluteness that has crept in because of the vacillation in Washington, much of it brought about due to the run up to the November 2006 elections in the USA. Now that these are behind them, both parties – Republicans and Democrats - can get together purposefully to move forward to retrieve the situation in Iraq. There can hardly be two opinions at this point in time that the US policies in Iraq have generally failed. However, notwithstanding the many wrong turns that were taken earlier on, the US Army in Iraq is not an army that has been defeated or severely mauled. When a foreign country is invaded the casualties are expected to run into the tens of thousands in the first phase of capture itself. The American Army was lucky. Iraq was not seriously contested. Therefore, some years down the line a few thousand US casualties do not represent a critical situation from the military point of view. The greater problem is the demoralization resulting from the wrangling in Washington – irrespective of whether it is justified or not. The moment a clear, unmistakable plan of action is decided in Washington and conveyed to Iraq and the world the fog of uncertainty would lift and a situation considered hopeless to many would reveal facets that indicate brighter possibilities for stabilizing the situation.
One possibility would be to go along with the practically non-functioning present dispensation and improve its functioning by quelling sectarian conflict in Baghdad after declaring it a city-state and thereafter bringing about normalization by curtailing sectarian strife, and then spreading it outward in concentric circles. With persistence and clear enunciation of intent, regardless of opposition from various sectarian and extra-territorial interests in the region, a degree of normalization would automatically ensue. The present state of uncertainty would be dispelled after the plan, so adopted, is given bi-partisan support in Washington.
Before going into other aspects there has to be a consensus in Washington that the type of re-construction projects entrusted to firms like Halliburton would be a closed chapter. Hereafter, all funds allocated for Iraq would have to be overseen by a respected oversight committee comprising members from both parties. The reconstruction activity would require to be monitored all the way down the line to the execution of the projects on the ground – in good condition and without cost and time overruns. Half the unrest in Iraq and the anti-American feeling stems from mismanaged projects, diversion of funds and not meeting expectations made with great fanfare in Washington and Baghdad after an easy victory.
It should not be too difficult to ensure pipeline security and greater output from production sites once the revised plans are announced and implementation undertaken with quiet purposefulness and professionalism. A development tax should be levied at the wellhead on each barrel of oil. Its utilization and distribution between the federating units has to be clearly spelled out. Here again, if funds are properly utilized and results begin to appear on the ground sectarian strife would automatically come down and the animus against the US troops gradually simmer down.
The American government has to firmly indicate its stance on the question of US troops in Iraq. Naturally several factors having a regional bearing would impinge on a decision of this nature. A suggested framework could be as under:
- In the longer-term the US is committed to a complete withdrawal once normalcy is restored. A caveat relating to the Kurdish region could be put in.
- It would withdraw approximately 50,000 military personnel within 18 months of the revised plan taking off on the ground.
- Thereafter, further reduction every six months to a year depending upon the competence achieved by the restructured Iraq Army.
It is important that the revised plan is circulated in-house in the Pentagon, the State Department, the Defence Department (the Pentagon should be free to give its own comments that may be at variance), the CIA and other selected committees and entities. Once a general consensus is obtained the plan should be communicated to all concerned and faithfully executed down the line. The sniping in Washington should then come down, if not cease.

Concluding Remarks

The USA has messed up things in Iraq. It was a wrong decision that was taken for all the wrong reasons. There was a large element of deception that has eroded the credibility of the US Administration – internally among the American people and externally among the allies. The start point for retrieving the situation in Iraq is to acknowledge the mistakes and then forget the past. Witch hunting and recrimination will not serve any purpose. Lessons would have been learned in Washington to ensure that such deception is never again allowed to influence major commitment of US forces abroad. The situation in Iraq is certainly grim. It is, however, far from being irretrievable. Fresh initiatives along the lines indicated, with sensible modifications and mid-term corrections, whenever required, should allow Iraq to get up on its feet again

New Delhi
November 17, 2006
© Vinod Saighal


Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy FAQ       site development and maintained by activa softech