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January 24, 2005

UMBC Middle East Experts Recommend Postponing Iraqi Vote, Partitioning Country

The following experts on the Middle East and terrorism from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) are available to news media for commentary on the Iraqi elections scheduled for Jan. 30.

Reporters may contact the experts directly (email & phone numbers are listed with their profiles below) or contact UMBC News: Chip Rose, 410-455-5793,, or 443-690-0307 (after hours).

Louis J. Cantori, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
Cellphone: 410-491-7003

Dr. Cantori is an expert on Middle East politics and policy, having lived almost seven years collectively in the region. He is the author, co-author or editor of four books and over 40 articles on the Middle East and other subjects. A former U.S. Marine, Cantori has taught at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps University. He has founded or is heavily involved with various groups concerned with Middle East policy and democracy.

Point of View:
"Without a smarter vision of Iraq's future, the Jan. 30 election will be meaningless," Cantori said in his Jan. 13 USA Today editorial.

"Iraq cannot become a beacon of Middle Eastern democracy without full, democratic participation in its elections," Cantori wrote. "This must include Sunni Muslims, who make up 20 percent of the population and the heart of the insurgency."

In the same editorial, Cantori noted news reports that put the insurgency at more than 200,000 fighters strong, and recommended that the U.S. immediately begin low-level negotiations with the Sunnis, followed by setting a date for a staged withdrawal, possibly January 2007.

Mark Croatti, M.A.
Instructor of Political Science

Prof. Croatti teaches courses in political science and government at UMBC, The George Washington University, the United States Naval Academy and The Johns Hopkins University. He has lectured on foreign affairs at Georgetown University and served as a consultant to the International Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His most recent class taught at UMBC was POLI409B "Politics of Iraq: Oil, Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Point of View:
"Arabs and Kurds in general, and Shiites and Sunnis in particular, have been fighting each other in one form or another for over a thousand years," said Croatti. "Just because the British created a country called Iraq in 1921 does not mean that the U.S. is obligated to uphold the integrity of its boundaries.

"The Kurds need a state of their own and the Sunnis and Shiites should not be forced to live together if they don't want to. Partition is a realistic alternative to the ongoing violence, and should be considered before holding an election or writing a new constitution."

Posted by OIT at January 24, 2005 12:00 AM