The Compass

« Merkel's Coalition Takes a Hit | Blog Home Page | The Ugly End of Exceptionalism? »

A Kurdish Model for Iraq

Max Boot has a good piece on CBS about the success of Iraq's Kurdish region relative to the rest of the country. He writes:

The Kurdish model suggests what Iraq can become in a few years-but only if it continues to improve in fighting crime and terrorism, reducing corruption, and developing the rule of law. Much of this is outside American control, but we can have a major impact on the security situation.

I wonder about this. Haven't the Kurds been successful because they're governing over fellow Kurds, who had a high degree of solidarity even before U.S. troops deposed Saddam? The Kurdish region isn't a miniature Iraq, populated with large numbers of Shiites and Sunni Arabs. As Boot himself writes, there have been problems with respect to non-Kurds:

The record is hardly perfect. Heavy-handed Kurdish attempts to extend their influence across northern Iraq have caused a backlash among Arabs and created an opening for extremist groups. In some areas they have been guilty of anti-Arab ethnic cleansing in an attempt to make up for anti-Kurdish campaigns under Saddam Hussein.

This would seem to suggest the opposite of what Boot contends, that Iraq can't become one big Kurdistan, because the heterogeneity of ethnic and sectarian groups would put too many strains on the government.