While doing research on other matters, I stumbled upon the following map, which dates just before World War I:
On the left, where one would expect it, is “Irak [sic] Arabi,” between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. But, if you look to the left, south of Teheran, you will see “Irak Ajemi” right in the centre of modern Iran. In the middle is Arabistan, the Arab region of Iran the British have been trying to destabilise. So what gives? Even in those times, the two Iraqs were parts of different nations, Arabi under the Ottoman Turks and Ajemi in Persia. The one thing the two places have in common are the holy Shi’ite cities in or around them: Arabi has Najaf, Samarra and Karbela (Karbala) and Ajemi Kum (Qom.)
The purpose of showing this map is to illustrate the basic truth about modern Iraq: it is an artificial creation, one concocted by the British after World War I. With the Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs, the Kurds, the Assyrians and all of the other groups, real nationhood as understood in the West is, to misuse a good Muslim term, a mirage. Only when a strong man is in charge is Iraq able to really hold together. That’s why the Iraqi government has found itself unable to get a grip on things: its people think in terms of tribe and sect first, nation far down the list.
Until our people in Washington themselves get a grip on this, the efforts of our valiant troops in Iraq will not have, to put it mildly, found their highest and best use.