by MONITOR
THERE is a certain euphoria about how things are going in Iraq that needs to be resisted. It is true that the recent provincial elections passed off without any major problem and that the orderly withdrawal of, first, British and then US forces should give Iraqis a sense of confidence in their ability to manage their own affairs. However in an area of Iraq that has been the most peaceful since the invasion of 2003 problems are beginning to show as Iraqi independence becomes a reality. The region is the Kurdish area bordering Turkey and Syria in the north of Iraq. During the bitter religious conflicts between Shias and Sunnis in central and southern Iraq, the Kurds lived relatively quietly but with the American withdrawal on the horizon they are beginning to worry about the quasi- independent future they want. The Kurdish Regional Government has been established and at times there has been talk of independence from the government in Baghdad. Not unimportantly, there is oil. The danger is that if the Arab Iraqis who dominate the government decide to impose their authority too strictly on the Kurds another internal conflict could break out. One outcome might be a declaration of independence and the creation of a Kurdish state - a development that would worry Turkey which has its own Kurdish problem. It is not impossible that US forces might have to remain to impose peace in an area of Iraq that until now has been relatively trouble-free.