OPINION

Postwar Iraq

The fall of Baghdad and the Kurdish move toward the rich Kirkuk and Mosul oil fields in northern Iraq raise the paramount geopolitical issue of safeguarding Iraq’s territorial integrity. In the course of Iraq’s military occupation, the US and British forces must fulfill their pledges and avert the country’s partition. Turkey has already made it clear that it considers the Kurdish move into these two oil fields a top security issue, and has hinted at responding by deploying a large number of Turkish troops into northern Iraq should Washington give Kurdish forces the green light to seize Mosul or Kirkuk. Now that the Iraq war is drawing to a close, the USA should have no problem with there being a massive Turkish military presence in northern Iraq, particularly if the White House has no intention of seeing an independent Kurdistan within Iraq. A Turkish intrusion into northern Iraq would have serious geostrategic repercussions, as well as on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. It would be in Greece’s best interests if Ankara refrained from such a move. At the same time, it is to be hoped that the White House has no plans to attack other states in the region, as some hawks in the US administration have hinted. Yesterday, John R. Bolton, the US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, accused Syria of pursuing a chemical and biological weapons program – a foretaste of grim developments. «There is one more thing Mr Bush could do to re-establish US credibility in its dealings with the region. He could signal that he does not intend to follow suggestions from administration hawks that Washington now turn its sights on Iraq’s neighbors, such as Syria and Iran,» the Financial Times said in their Tuesday editorial. The respected newspaper also called on Washington to push for UN involvement in postwar Iraq as soon as possible. This is clearly a crucial issue. If the UN takes charge of Iraq’s administration, it could at least prevent a breakdown of the country, taking the pressure off the already tense region. Should Iraq remain under the exclusive control of US troops, then its future is bound to be determined by the geostrategic and economic interests of Washington – a development with unpredictable consequences.