Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Kurds in their way...

Now that war in Iraq seems to be all but inevitable the big questions now are, "how will the war pan out?" and "what happens once the war is over?"

In answer to the first question, I find myself hoping that the American bravado will be reflected on the battlefield, because at least if they do get into Baghdad in a week or so it will hugely reduce the number Iraqi casualties. Imagine the carnage that will occur if the greatest war machine the world has ever known has to carry out a sustained assault with all the weaponry it can bring to bear. I hope the Iraqis won't fight to the death but who knows what's going to happen...this time they will be defending their homeland against a foreign invader...this means more than Kuwait did.

Once Saddam's regime is toppled there is a lot more to consider than just who gets the oil (although this is an important consideration). The Americans have released their blueprint for a Post -Saddam Iraq...and it has not gone down well with the exiled opposition groups(see Iraqi opposition slams plan for military governor, Our hopes betrayed and US falls out with Iraqi opposition ).

The Americans would argue that they spent millions of dollars in the nineties supporting these groups and they were totally unable to get their shit together - the two Kurdish groups , although they have since kissed and made up, actually ended up fighting each other and they now each control large but seperate enclaves in Northern Iraq. No one really knows how much support these groups have since many of them have lived in exile for the last 30 years. The best bet for the Americans is actually to work with the remnants of Saddams regime. Whatever the Americans decide to do one would hope that they would have learnt from their experience in Afghanistan (which is a shambles) and Kosovo.

Anyway, the Americans have decided that they will have an initial period of military rule followed by the appointment of a prominant American as a civilian administrator...much of the existing beaurocracy will be retained although it will be purged of those deemed to be to close to Saddam. At the moment a Sunni elite rules over a Shi'ite majority and it looks like the Americans will preserve this....so much for democracy.

It is a pragmatic decision on the part of the Americans...even if they wanted to install a democratic government, there is no way that America's allies in the region want that meme getting out of the bag...after all the Arab street might be reminded of the repressive and non democratic circumstances they are living in. The big problem is what happens in Northern Iraq? The Turks don't want the Kurds to get any notion of Statehood (see Analysis: Turkish threat to Iraq democracy, Kurds brace for Turks ) as this idea could spread to the Kurdish minority in Turkey whose rebellion the Turks have just finished suppressing. Turkey is now preparing to deploy its army in Northern Iraq both to prevent the flow of arms and refugees north and to destroy the incipent Kurdish state that has grown there under the safety of the no fly zone.The Kurds in Iraq are angry and afraid and who can blame them? They've been shafted for years by Saddam and they are about to get shafted by their would be liberators.