The Shia Kurdish Front in Iraq

The vote for an Iraqi prime minister and last week’s fighting reveal that the Shia Kurdish alliance is disintegrating. In the past, their fear of Saddam and the Baathists has united Shiites and Kurds. The axiom that the enemy of my enemy is my friend now induces the collaboration of Sunnis and Kurds in parliament.

A coalition of Sunni and Kurdish voting blocs had vetoed Ibrahim al-Jafaari. Publicly, Kurds and Sunnis blames al-Jafaari for being ineffective with respect to public safety. Beneath the surface, the opposition blames al-Jafaari for allowing the Badr militia to encorporate its death squads into the Iraqi interior ministry.

Moreover, the Stars and Stripes reports that Shiite private armies such as the Moqtar army and the Badr Brigade are positioning themselves to fight the Kurds. As Shiite fighters are infiltrating Kirkuk’s oil fields, Iran has begun shelling Iraqi Kurdish territory last week.

Both Iran and Turkey are concerned about their own Kurdish populations and increased separatist violence. I do not know whether Iran and the Iraqi Shia militias are coordinating their actions against Kurds. Since the Badr Brigade was stationed for two decades in Iran, however, it would be naive to assume that the militia and Iran will not coordinate their approach to their respective Kurdish problems at some level.

That threatens the stability of the Kurdish provinces, the only true success story in the wake of Saddam’s deposition.