It’s a measure of where Iraq is at these days, that it doesn’t seem like a big news week when all that’s happened is the revelation that the US is arming Sunni Arab militia who are willing to fight al-Qaeda groups inside the country, at the same time as the Speaker of the Parliament is ordered to take a holiday after getting his bodyguards to beat up a stroppy MP.

This is happening as the Government becomes increasingly panicked about a possible full-scale invasion by Turkey or part of the northern Kurdish region, with renewed attacks by the PKK causing exactly the sort of frictions that the country doesn’t want – with the Government allegedly organising anti-PKK rallies in Diyarkibar, the de facto capital for the Kurds within Turkey.

Now the Iranians are getting into the act, shelling PKK positions within Iraq – since Iran has no less enthusiasm for the idea of a Kurdistan lying across all three borders. Such chaos demands quiet and patient disentanglement of regional powers – which is why former Democrat now Independent Senator Joe Lieberman is arguing for the bombing of Iran.

In light of all this, what is one to make of reports that the US wants to maintain a permanent presence in Iraq – and that the model for this strategy is its presence in South Korea? You know – that place where nine different radical Buddhist groups are committing suicide bombings of Starbucks.

Never mind. Unity is possible. The US is pretty furious with Turkey for its cross-border attacks – principally since it marks a de facto judgement by an ally that Iraq is not a functioning state. America’s position is shared by Moqtada al-Sadr. Perhaps the country will at last be unified in the great US-Turkish war of 2009…

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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