Monday, December 22, 2003

Juan Cole: Wrangling over the future of Kurdistan.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani, a member of the Interim Governing Council, announced Sunday that the Kurds would not be satisfied with provincial federalism in Iraq. It was not enough that each of the 18 provinces retained certain privileges not granted to Baghdad. He wants the Kurdish regions to be constituted as a super-province, and wants it then incorporated into Iraq only as part of a loose, perhaps Switzerland-like, canton-based federalism. (AFP, ash-Sharq al-Awsat).
In response, the leaders of the 500,000 Turkmen in Iraq announced that they would oppose the incorporation of the oil city of Kirkuk into any such Kurdish super-province. (ash-Sharq al-Awsat)
The potential for ethnic strife over this issue is enormous. The Shiite al-Da`wa Party has in the past rejected this Kurdish formula for very loose federalism in favor of strong central government. Turkish officials in the past have also said that they will intervene militarily in Iraq to prevent Kurdish autonomy.

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