For an Iraq Cut in 3, Cast a Wary Glance at Kurdistan

…The top Kurdish politicians in Iraq officially are not pushing for an independent Kurdistan. They are all too aware that a Kurdish nation would draw intense hostility from Turkey, Iran and Syria, which all have Kurdish minorities chafing to raise their own flag. Kurds in those countries and in Iraq have long dreamed of uniting to form the nation of greater Kurdistan, encompassing up to 30 million people and stretching from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean to southern Iraq.“Both Turkey and Iran are not happy with what’s going on in Iraqi Kurdistan — having a special region, having a government, having a Parliament, and so on,” said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament. “That’s why they do those special operations, those bombings. It’s a blow against the Kurdish government in Kurdistan.”

“We have to be very careful, and we are very careful,” he added.

The type of cross-border disputes occurring in Kurdistan could spread across Iraq should the country splinter. Some Shiite leaders are working to create a nine-province autonomous Shiite region in the south, one that would include the oil fields around Basra. If this were to happen in the context of a large-scale civil war, Saudi Arabia and Syria, countries with Sunni Arab majorities, could openly back Sunni militias in Iraq against the Iranian-supported Shiite fief.

Yet whether Iraq’s neighbors like it or not, this country’s regions are heading toward greater autonomy, not less.

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