November 25, 2015
Everyone seems to agrees that the ISIS state must be destroyed, though there is a myriad of opinions as to how this can be accomplished, most of them in the nature of wishful thinking. This much is clear: negotiation with homicidal maniacs is not an option. I don’t like John Bolton, mainly because of his outsized beak and talons, but good ideas –– in this case that of creating a Sunni state –– may come from unexpected quarters.
Mr. Bolton’s recent Times op ed piece deals with the vacuum that would be created if ISIS is destroyed. Going back to the “old,” i.e. pre-ISIS, Syria and Iraq amounts to turning back the clock, which would immediately begin to wind forward and repeat the same sorry story. Fortunately, maybe, through strenuous and enlightened negotiation, the sane, though in some cases sociopathic, players, can work out a solution to their own benefit and that of the world.
Here is how it might work:
Non-maniacal Sunnis, oppressed and marginalized as Iraqis under the Shiite regime in Baghdad, get their own state –– Sunnistan, as Mr. Bolton would call it. Kurdistan, already a de facto state, becomes a sovereign nation; Kurdish authorities both in and out of Turkey renounce Kurdish separatist ambitions in that country, which, in turn, guarantees the human rights of Kurds within its borders and promises to refrain from harassing them outside its borders.
Distasteful as it is, but probably unavoidable, Mr. Assad, defanged, is assured of safe exile and exemption from prosecution in an enclave in his own former kingdom, and, almost equally distasteful, and in any case unavoidable, Russia keeps its air and naval bases on the Syrian coast. Iran is assured of continuing suzerainty over the diminished, but now secure, Baghdad-controlled Iraqi rump.
Such a deal could provide a template for filling other post terrorist organization vacuums, beginning with Boku Haram.