Saturday, April 11, 2009

Northern Iraq awaits bloodshed after US army pullout

One word: "Blood."

That’s how Abu Ahmed, a Kurdish father of six, envisions the future in this ethnically diverse northern province after U.S. troops are gone and allegiances older than Iraq’s new government take hold.

He said this with no drama, and some regret. Ahmed said he sometimes gathers with his Arab and Turkmen friends to reminisce about good times in the past. "We went out together, smoked together, drank together," he said. But how ethnic tensions here will influence this oil-rich province’s future is now on the minds of many.

Six years into the Iraq war, more questions than answers remain.

There’s the oft-delayed referendum on the province’s future status as a semi-autonomous region, or one tied to the Kurdish Regional Government to the north, or Baghdad to the south.

There’s the scheduling of elections and power-sharing agreements between the different Kurdish, Arab, Christian and Turkmen populaces.

And attached to all that is the question of just who should be counted as a provincial resident in the wake of an influx of Kurds after 2003.

Read further on Stars and Stripes.

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