February 02, 2005

Did The Kurds Win Big?

One more thing on post-election Iraq. Can anyone doubt that the Kurds have made out like bandits in all of this? For one, as I posted on MoJo earlier today, any governing coalition led by some subset of the Shi'ites will need to rely on Kurdish support, which means that their demands will get ample hearing. For two, the Kurdish leaders are all far more experienced at the process of political maneuvering than anyone else. Ahmed Chalabi may have the con man game down pat, but what does he know about logrolling? Ditto Abdul Aziz-Hakim, or Ghazi al-Yawer, or even Iyad Allawi.

So while the rest of the Iraqi government is skittering around trying to hash out simply procedural rules, and figuring out what to compromise on, the Kurds can present a rather united front. They know exactly what they want—autonomy with strong claims to Kirkuk—and they have the army to back themselves up. Plus, the Kurdish people want independence. Kurdish leaders are skittish about this, but the pressure at home will no doubt force them to demand as much as possible. Barzani and Talabani will make Tom DeLay look unfocused and aimless.

Insofar as the Kurds have been screwed for decades and will now get more than a fair shake, this is all a good thing. Insofar as overly strong Kurdish victories on Kirkuk and the question of autonomy will only fuel resentment and possibly provoke a civil war (or a larger Middle Eastern conflict with Turkey or Syria), this is a bad thing. Insofar as Kurdistan will now be governed by two corrupt and wholly despicable ruling parties that will only see their hands strengthened by national legislative victories, this is a terrible thing. Does that all balance out? I dunno.
-- Brad Plumer 2:34 AM || ||