Kurdistan Expansion Threatens US Pullout Plans

Are Iraq's Kurds and Arabs on a Collision Course?

Bloomberg is reporting today that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been raising its flags and deploying its military in areas outside of their official borders. One Kurdish military officer explained that “Saddam kicked out Kurds, Arabs came in. Kurds are back, Arabs fled. If the Iraqi army comes, they will stab us in the back and expel Kurds again.” The situation may imperil the nation’s relative quiet and may threaten America’s already tenuous pullout plans.

Since assisting with the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, the KRG has enjoyed a large measure of autonomy. It runs its own military and has negotiated oil deals (though the later was a matter of serious contention for the national government).

And while Kurdistan has largely been spared (with a few notable exceptions) the sectarian violence that has torn the rest of the nation apart, the region has been a matter of considerable controversy. In addition to the aforementioned oil disputes, Kurdish officials acquired a large number of arms in September, and have clashed bitterly with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over his “Support Councils.” The battle over disputed territories between a US-backed national government and a US-backed autonomous regional government, both with separate, significant militaries and major differences of opinion on who owns what is yet another powder-keg threatening to resume the civil warfare which has kept an enormous number of American soldiers bogged down in the nation since the invasion.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.