Saving the Kurds

House of Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah.

Image via Wikipedia

If things go as currently planned, the U.S. military will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Regardless of the other issues facing Iraq as a nation, one that concerns the U.S. and most countries in the region is the matter of how to help the Arab peoples and the Kurds in the region find a modus vivendi.

In Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of US Troops, Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini, and Omar Al-Shahery point out that the modest pace of Iraqi reconstruction politics makes it unlikely that a domestic political solution will come in time. They make clear that the U.S. will need to maintain involvement in Northern Iraq to manage the issue until Iraq can craft a federalist system that will allow for a degree of Kurdish autonomy.

The authors advocate using a series of “Confidence Building Measures” (CBMs) to keep inter-communal tensions low enough in the interim to allow for a longer-term solution to come out of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein’s solution to the problem of Kurds within his borders was to kill as many as possible and thrust the rest on Turkey and Syria as refugees. The authors are trying to save Iraq’s current government from having to go down that path simply because nobody was paying attention after the last American dogface was flown out of the region. They understand that failure to do so will have a polarizing effect on the politics of the entire region for decades to come.

The Iraq Effect: The Middle East After the Iraq War

More compelling Chinese New Year reading.

In this excellent analysis, researchers have pieced together what remains the most important untold story out of Operation Iraqi Freedom: American arms and blood have opened the door for opportunities for Russia and China.

This study raises some critical questions about who should be policing the global system – America, or an international consortium.