It was the British Empire, of course, who in 1916 first partitioned off and created the current state of what we have come to call Iraq, out of the old Ottoman Empire of the Turks.
1916.05.16 secret Sykes-Picot Agreement anticipated the partition of the Ottoman empire into British and French spheres of influence with the villayets of Basra and Baghdad going to Britain, and Mosul and Syria to France, but Britain did the fighting and came away with the spoils, taking over Mosul as well as Basra and Baghdad
1919.01.10 Britain formed state of Iraq from aMesopotamian villayets of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.
1920.04.25 League of Nations established British Mandate over Iraq.
Check out the following link, for a review of some of the major elements of this aspect of Iraqi history:
The point being, toying with the lives and territories of other peoples in this way, as a method of carving out and fulfilling imperial ambitions, and nowhere more so than in the Middle East, has a long history. And from the beginning of this current US Empire invasion of Iraq, I can recall back to some of the discussions occurring in the blogosphere here and in the US at that time, amongst neoconservative opinion writers certainly, but also many so-called liberals who as well supported the war, the idea of partitioning Iraq was already then put forward as one of the ways of controlling the situation and territory there for the "liberating" US forces.
And by the by, this notion and claim of imperialism arriving in Baghdad as liberators is not new either. I haven't really even looked for an Ottoman Empire claim about "liberating" the people of Mesopotamia. but certainly it is readily there out of the mouths of the later British Empire.
This is the Proclamation to the People of the Wilayat of Baghdad that British General Maude of their Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force issued when his forces took Baghdad.
People of Baghdad, remember the 26 generations you have suffered under strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions. This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment. Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors, but as liberators.
Certainly many echoes of the present in there as well, of the current US Empire "liberation" of Iraq, with an eye to self "profit" from their dissensions, when they gaze covetously upon those self-same oil fields that the British did.
But the real question being, of course, is the current US Empire desire to partition Iraq as a control means, which lurks beneath the surface of current imperial and patriot insurgent conflict reality, likely to serve the new and rising Empire from the West, and its "allies", any better than it did the older and now sun set Empire of the British?
And there is some indicator of the answer to that in recent history as well actually, I think, in the outcome history of the partitioning of old Palestine.
Did that solve Europe's "Jewish" problem in the end, and secure that area of the Middle East for the post WW2 ambitions of western imperialism, culminating after the collapse of the old British Empire, which was one of the eventual consequences of the last war, and the rise of the new US Empire.?
In a word, "No."
The consequence problems of that partitioning exercise are still with us. And in my view of it, looking at that and the relatively long history of Iraq since the demise of the old British Empire, where there are not only lingering regional tribal divisions but also now a fairly extensive shared "national experience" of intermingled blood, relations, and economic shared history and interests which are also there, and have been the primary driving element of the insurgency against the US thus far.
No doubt there have been the religious nutters as well, but hell there are those in the US no less, except called "Christians" there. And even the leading force of the majority Shia, the cleric Muqtada el Sadr, who poses the greatest armed threat to the US Empire, is a self-proclaimed nationalist, sworn to the defence of the entire territorial integrity of Iraq, and of whom it has long been rumoured in US intelligence reports even, that he has negotiated alliances with the Sunni part of the insurgency. And even not all Kurds stand with the partitioning of Iraq, many of whom have long come to live and work across the whole of Iraq, and are known in some numbers at least, to be a part of the insurgency against the US.
So it is not a simple question this matter of partitioning Iraq, for the US Empire ambition, as even is it for Canada, with our internal stressors between Anglo-Canadians, Quebecois and Aboriginal Natives. There are significant elements which work to drive us apart, no doubt, but there has also time and again been demonstrated a long shared history, evolved shared interests, blood lines and economic interests (which the dominance of trade with the US works against), and a fear, certainly at the level of "the people" of being "absorbed" into the US Empire. And of which similar elements there are also in Iraq.
All modern nations contain all the contradictory and fractious elements of the complex and often violent histories which brought them finally into being.
Though there is likely a price that Kurdistan is going to have to pay at the end of this conflict, for its "official" collaboration with the US Empire, I fear. But even there, it has other enemies as well. Turkey has stated that it will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan if the US is compelled to withdraw from Iraq. So for them it is not simple either, and Iraq may come to again be looked upon as a whole lot less threatening to it, in a choice of lesser evils, at least as some kind of loose "federal or confederal" survival means, as Saddam had at least already provided them.
Clearly, any attempt to partition Iraq by the US Empire, in my view, however much it is tempted to try it, is likely destined to fail, on the basis of the available objective evidence. For the modern day Iraqis certainly, outside of the religious nutters, and Iraq under Saddam was a modern secular dominant society, looking out upon the modern world, smaller is not better. In the end it only makes a state more, not less vulnerable, to Big Power interferences.
Which is, of course, precisely the US Empire interest in the concept of partitioning Iraq. But for which still, the risk is no less great, nay perhaps even more, than their present difficulties. Which is all that stays their hand from that course, which was again apparently rejected just today ,in the top level White House meetings going on between the US President, his advisers and military Generals from Iraq.. That fear.