“What you give away, you keep.” -Kurdish Proverb
Andrew Sullivan points to a particularly interesting facet of the ongoing Iraq debate, namely, what we are to do about the Kurds. The discussion continues here. Compared to most Iraqis, they like us. They may find themselves in a bad position if we leave them too soon, as they are not particularly popular with the Shi’ites, some of the other Sunnis, Iran, and Turkey. It would be unfortunate to abandon them to an unpleasant fate when the war inevitably winds down over the next year or two.
However, it’s worth noting that continuing to help the Kurds militarily is not entirely a rosy picture. Turkey and Iran both fear a Kurdish state would lay claim to traditional Kurdish lands within their borders. This fear is not entirely unfounded, I don’t think. Turkey is an important ally, one we would be ill-advised to turn against us. Moreover as long as the current loose cannon of an Iranian President is in power (until 2009), we need to tread lightly with Iran as well.
Nevertheless, I don’t think we can abandon the Kurds. Unfortunately, like everything else in the Middle East, there are no easy answers.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias discusses the issue here. He is more critical of a continued military presence in the Kurdish region than I.