Saturday, October 28, 2006

Our real ally in Iraq - Kurdistan

Want to know about the real ally we have in Iraq, the one superb example of western style democracy we've managed to establish there? Welcome to Kurdistan.

Here in a Wall Street OpinionJournal featured article by Judith Miller, you can read an interview with the president of Kurdistan, Iraq's success story.

Here's a sample:

`ERBIL, Iraq--Unlike Baghdad, 200 miles away, the air here does not echo with the sound of gunfire, car bombs and helicopters. Residents of this city of a million people picnic by day in pristine new parks and sip tea with friends and relatives at night. American forces are not "occupiers" or the "enemy," but "liberators." Mentioning President Bush evokes smiles--and not of derision. American forces were "most welcome" when stationed here at the start of the invasion of Iraq, says Massoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan in the north. Not a single U.S. soldier was killed in his region, he adds proudly, "not even in a traffic accident." Would U.S. forces be welcome back now? "Most certainly," he declared this week in an interview in his newly minted marble (and heavily chandeliered) palace. The more American soldiers the better, a top aide confirms. The secret of Kurdistan's relative success so far--and of America's enduring popularity here--is the officially unacknowledged fact that the three provinces of the Kurdish north are already quasi-independent. {...) The U.S., Mr. Barzani believes, should leave it to the Iraqis to decide if they want "one or two or three regions." Then, he adds: "But it already exists. The division is there as a practical matter.' Even the most fleeting visitor cannot but notice that Kurdistan is almost a full-fledged state. Kurds no longer speak Arabic, but various dialects of Kurdish, in offices and schools throughout the 74,000 square miles that comprise their provinces. They fly their own flag, provide their own services, raise their own army--the legendarily disciplined Pesh Merga, or "Those Who Face Death"--and have gradually consolidated their de facto state. Divided between two parties--Mr. Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, his clan's power base in north Kurdistan, and the southern-based Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by Jalal Talabani, now president of Iraq (or "President of the Green Zone," as Kurds here call the post)--Kurdistan is booming with construction, new businesses and ambitious dreams of self-rule. Kurdish aspirations for autonomy, however, clearly require Turkish and Iranian acquiescence, or a persuasive reason for Turkey not to attack. Hence the desire for the redeployment of some American forces to Kurdistan. "The presence of American forces here would be a deterrent to intervention by the neighboring countries," Mr. Barzani says, with characteristic bluntness'.
In other words, the Kurds would be a bulwark and an ally against Iran and Syria.

So far, as the article relates, the Bush Administration continues to fail to recognize this golden opportunity. They're concerned that an independent Kurdistan would end with a Sunni jihad state in the Green Zone, and Iranian control of the Shiite South. As President Bush said inhis press conference last week, he's agin' proposals to carve Iraq into three virtually autonomous regions as `destabilizing' and exacerbating Sunni-on-Sunni and Sunni-on-Shiite tensions. "The Kurds will then create problems for Turkey and Syria," President Bush said.

Guess what,Mr. President? Things are ALREADY DESTABILIZED...except in Kurdistan. And Iran ALREADY controls the Shiites whose government is on record as refusing to allow US bases there to be used against their friends in Iran! As for `creating problems for Turkey and Syria - who gives a rip? The Turks are no longer our allies, Syria never was, and a strong, US backed Kurdistan, with ties to the oppressed minorities in Syria, Turkey and especially Iran could be the start of a US encouraged resistance and regime change in those countries.

A strong Kurdistan would give us a secure base in the region within easy flying distance from Iran and Syria, and a common border with our ally Jordan. And the Pesh Merga, the best fighting force in the country next to the US would effectively double our troop strength in one stroke.

Yet the congressionally created Iraq Study Group, headed by former Republican Secretary of State James Baker and Democratic co-chairman Lee Hamilton, which is studying policy alternatives for Iraq, didn't even bother to go to Kurdistan or consult with Barzani.

The Kurds are the people we should be allied with. They're a democratic, oil producing nation with a fine military who would be loyal, strong allies in the War on Jihad, and it's amazing to me - and saddening - that we refuse to take advantage of that fact.

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