A reminder from the Kurdish region of Iraq: Without political progress, at least by his original measure G.W. is right - the surge will have been a failure.
Kurdish officials this fall took delivery of three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria, three U.S. military officials said, an acquisition that occurred outside the weapons procurement procedures of Iraq's central government.How well is "national reconciliation" coming along?
The large quantity of weapons and the timing of the shipment alarmed U.S. officials, who have grown concerned about the prospect of an armed confrontation between Iraqi Kurds and the government at a time when the Kurds are attempting to expand their control over parts of northern Iraq.
"Yes, the Kurds have this autonomous region and they're authorized to keep the pesh," one of the [U.S.] officials said, referring to the militia. "But arming themselves and bringing in weapons stealthily like that - if I were the Iraqi government, I'd be pretty concerned."And of course, the Kurds welcome us to stay:
While violence in Iraq has decreased markedly in recent months, political tension is rising as Iraqi leaders gear up for provincial and national elections scheduled to take place next year, and as they prepare for an era in which the U.S. military will have a smaller presence there.
Of the primary fault lines - which include tension between Sunnis and Shiites and rivalry among Shiite political parties - the rift between Kurds and the Arab-dominated Iraqi government has become a top concern in recent months. Senior government officials have engaged in a war of words, and Iraqi army and pesh merga units have come close to clashing.
"You could easily have a huge eruption of violence in the north," said Kenneth B. Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service in Washington. "Nothing having to do with the Kurds is resolved."
Central government officials recently bristled at Barzani's offer to allow U.S. troops to establish bases in the Kurdish autonomous region, saying the regional government had no authority to make such an overture, especially as Iraqi officials are calling for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops.The factions that want us in and the factions that want us out, it seems, are all trying to advance their own agendas. But reconciliation isn't very high on anybody else's list of priorities and... for that matter, may not even be on any list but ours.