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Sen. Biden: Iraq should be divided into 3 regions

By Reuters

05/01/06 -- WASHINGTON (
Reuters) - Iraq should be divided into three largely autonomous regions -- Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab -- with a weaker central government in Baghdad, Sen. Joseph Biden said on Monday.

In an op-ed article in The New York Times, Biden, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee's top Democrat, said the Bush administration's effort to establish a strong central government in Baghdad had been a failure, doomed by ethnic rivalry that had spawned widespread sectarian violence.

"It is increasingly clear that President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. Rather, he hopes to prevent defeat and pass the problem along to his successor," said Biden and co-author Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Iraq's Sunnis, the driving force behind the insurgency, would welcome the partition plan rather than be dominated by a Shiite-controlled central government, Biden said.

He said the division of Iraq would follow the example of Bosnia a decade ago when that war-torn country was partitioned into ethnic federations under the U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords.

Biden billed his plan as a "third option" beyond the "false choice" of continuing the Bush administration policy of nurturing a unity government in Iraq or withdrawing U.S. troops immediately.

As part of the plan, the United States should withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by 2008, except for a small force to combat terrorism, Biden said.

Under Biden's proposal, the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security. The central government would control border defense, foreign affairs and oil revenues.

Reuters 2006.

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