US Senate calls for Iraq’s partition

EUX.TV, September 26, 2007

Washington (dpa) – US lawmakers voted Wednesday to split Iraq into a loose federation of sectarian-based regions and urged President George W Bush to press Iraqi leaders to agree.

More than 20 Republicans joined Democrats to pass the non-binding measure in the Senate, 75-23, showing frustration in both parties about Bush’s war policy and lagging national reconciliation in Iraq.

Supporters of Iraqi partition believe it would let Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions settle their differences and make it easier for US troops eventually to return home.

But the measure, attached to the 2008 defence budget, runs against US administration policy to keep Iraq united and would likely face a veto if it reached Bush’s desk.

The proposal to breaking up Iraq into decentralized regions came from Senator Joseph Biden, who heads the chamber’s foreign relations committee and is running for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Biden has long championed the federal plan, saying it would give Iraq’s main groups “breathing room in their own regions” and speed up a US troop withdrawal.

But partition would raise concern in neighbouring Turkey, which is fighting a Kurdish separatist movement and would be wary of broader autonomy for Iraqi Kurds across the border.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia would likely fear a further rise in Iranian influence over Iraq if Iraqi Shiites controlled their own mini-state.

A key Republican supporter and presidential candidate, Senator Sam Brownback, has urged Bush to send a high-level envoy to Iraq “to get these people in a room to cut the deal to get different states, where you have the power mostly residing in the states.”

Biden’s amendment calls for the US government to work for a “political settlement based on the creation of federal regions within a united Iraq.”

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