September 6, 2007


Does independence beckon?: Iraq's Kurds have never had it so good. But they still have a long way to go before securing a safe and stable, let alone democratic, future (The Economist, 9/06/07)

DURING a recent voyage around Iraqi Kurdistan, not a single sign or hint that the place is officially part of a federal Iraq was in evidence. Landing at Erbil International Airport (as the Kurds call it, invariably also noting that it has one of the longest runways in the world), you see no shadow of an Iraqi, as opposed to Kurdish, presence. You show your passport or offer your bags for inspection to officers bearing bright Kurdish insignia on crisp uniforms.

In the past month, virtually no insurgent violence has been recorded in Iraqi Kurdistan, bar a shocking but isolated spate of suicide-bombings that killed more than 400 members of the Yazidi sect in two villages near Sinjar, on the fringe of the area controlled by the Kurds. Otherwise, the last big attacks were in May—one in Erbil, the Kurds' capital, the other in a town of mixed population, Makhmour, on the contested western edge of the region, killing at least 30 people.

In the rest of Iraq, by contrast, nearly a thousand civilians and insurgents have been killed in the same period, along with more than 70 American soldiers. There are no American forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, bar a handful guarding a small American diplomatic compound outside Erbil. The only sizeable foreign military presence is a South Korean force of around 1,200, which spends much of its time helping with construction and IT. In short, Iraqi Kurdistan is a haven of peace in a sea of turmoil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 6, 2007 4:56 PM
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