On Saturday, the Kurds vote on a new parliament and president. While polls show that President Massoud Barzani and the two largest Kurdish parliamentary parties will be re-elected, the dynamic of this election is making Kurdish leaders nervous. Historically, Kurdish elections turned on the KRG’s power struggle with the national government. But in this election, the Iraqi Kurds seem to be more preoccupied with local governance issues such as KRG corruption. This may be prompting KRG officials to foment tension with Baghdad in the hope that the perception of external threats will strengthen their position at the polls. [emphasis mine]
He uses this analysis to argue for increasing not decreasing U.S. troop presence in Kurdistan. I don’t buy that, but I also don’t buy the logic underlying it. If Kurdish voters are mostly concerned about corruption in their own government, then their votes are most likely going to be in response to corruption in their own government. Kurdish politicians can try to foment all the tension they’d like (over the next three days), but that’s not likely to assuage their constituencies’ concerns about corruption.
Senor seems to be doing a little fomenting himself here. If there’s tension between Kurdistan and Baghdad, then he can argue for a greater U.S. military troop presence (and conveniently oppose the president’s agenda). And there’s nothing to reduce tension like an enduring occupation force.