Critics argue that support for the KRG would be dangerous and destabilizing. It would undermine Iraqi integrity and show that the United States tacitly supports the breakup of Iraq. Such criticism is overheated and unfounded. Whether increased support for Kurdish development and international trade in energy resources leads eventually to increased independence is beside the point. Washington possesses a rare opportunity to enact a policy in which its interests and its values align. Support for the Kurds in northern Iraq would undermine Maliki—and by extension Iran and Syria—and benefit the KRG, Turkey, and other regional partners. No less importantly, supporting the Kurds would demonstrate that the United States truly stands on the side of those striving for democracy against antiliberalism and authoritarianism.
Dov Friedman spent 2011-2012 on a fellowship as a foreign policy research associate at the SETA Foundation in Ankara. You can follow him on Twitter at @DovSFriedman.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/James Gordon. CC BY 2.0.