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Biden Seeks to Unite the Iraq He Once Tried to Divide

1:31 PM, Jul 3, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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One hopes the irony of today's protests to Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Iraq are not lost on the vice president himself. Biden is in Iraq to help further reconciliation between Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds just three years after pushing his his plan to divide Iraq into Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish states.

Biden was on a trip to Iraq to promote reconciliation between Iraq's fractious groups after six years of bloodshed. He met for breakfast on Friday with his son Beau Biden, who is serving there with the U.S. military.

Biden started his visit to Iraq on Thursday night, after U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq's towns and cities this week under the terms of a bilateral security pact that paves the way for a full U.S. withdrawal by 2012.

After Friday prayers, hundreds and possibly thousands of residents of Sadr City chanted "down, down USA" and burned U.S. flags in protest at Biden's visit. A smaller demonstration also took place in Kerbala, in the Shi'ite south.

Biden helped author a 2006 plan to split Iraq into self-ruled Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish enclaves. That plan angered many Iraqis, and was quietly shelved as violence ebbed.

"Biden has come here to divide Iraq according to his plan," said a message from Sadr read out by one Imam in a mosque.

In my travels to Iraq, I've spoken to many Iraqis -- Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds -- and asked what they thought of dividing the country per the Biden plan. While admitting that there are some problems between some groups, no Iraqi I ever spoke to believed that dividing Iraq into sectarian nations was a good idea.

The concept is so radical that even Muqtada al Sadr and his sectarian, Iranian-backed movement rallies to oppose it.