Friday, December 16, 2005

Mixed bag in Kurdistan

DefenseTech has a report on Election Day in Erbil. The election seems to have been hitchless, barring some election fraud:

He told me this morning that he witnessed two types of fraud: family voting, where fathers dictate their childrens' votes; and multiple voting. The former is an inevitable artifact of a patriarchal society. The latter is no surprise in the Middle East, and easy to perpetrate, what with the red-dye-and-finger method of preventing it.
Something about this reminds me that Taliban-style abuse of women could also be argued as an "inevitable artifact of a patriachal society," yet that's not what happens in patriarchal societies in America or Europe, and neither do fathers here dictate their wives' or childrens' votes. The fact that we have low expectations for Iraqi democracy doesn't justify vote fraud, especially since we don't want people electing an even more patriarchal government.

Anyway, what worried me in the report was this news about the state of Kurdistan.
But cracks are showing. More Kurds and demanding that their control extend south to oil-rich Kirkuk, which would alienate the Arabs that form 60 percent of the central government. Others want formal independence, which would piss off pretty much everybody, especially Turkey which has its own Kurd problem. And while the KDP and PUK have stayed tight, they have a new Kurdish rival now, the radical Islamic League of Kurdistan. While most Kurds are Muslims, few are radical, and the ILK threatens to upset the moderate progressive atmosphere. Recent weeks have seen riots at ILK headquarters. Everyone is blaming everyone else.
Democracy is about compromise. The Kurdish KDP/PUK coalition was built on compromise. The people blowing things up don't want to compromise. They think there's a good chance that they can win it all if they keep trying. The emergence of that attitude in Kurdish politics is a step backward.

Kurdistan was always the most stable part of Iraq, even before the invasion. The No-Fly zone had freed them of the threat of Saddam's military, and they had their own semi-autonomous government. If Turkey weren't scared to hell of an independent Kurdistan, they'd have declared their own independence the instant our troops hit Baghdad, and they would have had oil wealth to support themselves, it would have been great.
Now, as "the insurgency in north-central Iraq enters its third year, the Marines root out foreign fighters in the western desert and southern Iraq becomes increasingly aligned to Islamist Iran," in DefenseTech's words, the Kurds are getting restless. And that's bad, because Kurdistan was the model America could point to.