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Monday, 10 August 2009

Kurdish faultline threatens to spark new war

The only thing keeping Arabs and Kurds from fighting is the glue of US occupation

It is called the "trigger line", a 300-mile long swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq where Arab and Kurdish soldiers confront each other, and which risks turning into a battlefield. As the world has focused on the US troop withdrawal from Iraq, and the intensifying war in Afghanistan, Arabs and Kurds in Iraq have been getting closer to an all out war over control of the oil-rich lands stretching from the borders of Syria in the west to Iran in the east.

The risk of armed conflict is acute because the zone in dispute is a mosaic of well-armed communities backed by regular forces. Kurdish and Arab soldiers here watch each other's movements with deepest suspicion in case the other side might attempt to establish new facts on the ground. It is to avert a new armed conflict breaking out between the powerful military forces on both sides that Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, travelled to Kurdistan for crisis talks last week with Kurdish leaders, Iraq's (Kurdish) President, Jalal Talabani, and the President of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani. Mr Maliki and Mr Barzani had not met for a year during which their exchanges have been barbed and aggressive. More