Observers around the world are glued to their TV and computer screens, barely able to keep pace with popular protests seizing one Middle Eastern country after another and changing the Arab world for good. Yet, largely ignored by Western media, the revolutionary wave of the “Arab Spring” has also reached the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq, where it could have the dangerous side effect of plunging the whole of Iraq back into sectarian violence at the very moment the last American troops are scheduled to leave. Unsurprisingly, the popular protests originated in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan’s most secular and liberal city, where […]

For many years, the United States has been the world’s most powerful nation. It remains the undisputed global leader in military power and still possesses vast economic and cultural influence. And while Washington’s ability to combine both hard and soft power to influence world events — what Joseph Nye calls “smart power” — has diminished somewhat, it is still in a far superior position relative to any other country. U.S. primacy, however, comes with opportunity costs. An alternate path might have delivered a comparable level of security at far less expense and risk. Even many who unabashedly celebrate our 20-year […]

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — Just a quick tour of the markets in any Kurdish city in northern Iraq is all that is needed to illustrate how far relations with Turkey, the once-hostile neighbor to the north, have come. Supermarket shelves are packed with Turkish goods, while new malls are flooded with Turkish brands. And many of the major business contracts, from airports to roads, go to Turkish companies. Turkey threatened Iraqi Kurdistan with an extensive military offensive just a couple of years ago, but the invasion that did occur was of a completely different nature. “I have to say that the […]