Friday, December 30, 2005

Kurdish independence


It really seems amazing that the media is still acting surprised by Kurdish plans to set up their own independent Kurdish country should things go “awry” with the fragile agreements in Iraq. The question is, why would they want to stay? They've got more riches, more security and more infrastructure than any other region in Iraq. It's only goodwill keeping them at the table, and undoubtedly lots of US pressure.

Kurdish leaders, by filling regular Iraqi army units with thousands of loyal militia members, have laid the groundwork to seize a large swath of northern Iraq and establish an independent Kurdistan, if -- as they expect -- the fragile threads now holding the nation together disintegrate.

With 10,000 former militia members in army divisions in the north, those leaders are prepared to send them south to take the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.

Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region -- arranged independently and without a customary U.S. military escort -- suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq by training and equipping a national army aren't working. Instead, some troops formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable.

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