Breaking up: Not so hard to do?

| Fri Apr. 8, 2005 11:25 AM PDT

Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, has written yet another piece warning about the impending breakup in Iraq. It's hard to think that he's completely off-base about all this. The Kurdish leaders in Baghdad, including Kurdish president Jalal Talabani, may talk about unity and cooperating with the Iraqi government, but back up north their constituents are demanding a far more strident stance. Last December, 1.7 million Kurds signed a petition for independence that was then handed over to the UN.

Down in southern Iraq, meanwhile, conservative Shiite local governments have indicated that they would seek much greater autonomy if Baghdad couldn't deliver on making Islamic law, not to mention Islamic family law, the strict law of the land. And the interim constitution allows any three provinces to band together and veto the final constitution, if and when it gets written, making regional demands for autonomy much more credible. That doesn't mean a break-up is engraved in stone, but it's a possibility to watch out for.

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