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In January of 2006 I drove to a meeting with the Kurdish minister of pesh merga — the Kurdish quasi-guerilla/quasi-conventional force — an amiable elderly gentleman, Hahmid Effendi, who told me that he wanted the U.S. to sell the Kurds weaponry. Effendi was courteous enough not to bullshit me: the weapons would guard against a potential attack from the U.S-allied Iraqi government, for which Effendi nominally worked (sort of), as much as it would be to deter attack from Iran or Syria or (U.S.-allied) Turkey. The pesh had rifles and such, he said, but not tanks, not wheeled armored vehicles, not helicopters. Would the U.S. ever sell the Kurds this weaponry? he asked. After all, who knows what will happen with Iraq, and we are such close friends with the Americans…

The U.S. answer has been, predictably, no. But that’s not stopped the Kurds from amassing what it needs for its generational plan to secure independence from Iraq. According to the Washington Post, the Kurds have bought unspecified "small arms and ammunition" from Bulgaria, a NATO ally. The piece suggests that the Kurds went around the U.S. and the Baghdad government (duh) to purchase the weapons. If so, it raises the question of what other additions the Kurds have made to their military deterrent and offensive capability without the U.S.’s knowledge.

I’ve been crying wolf so long about the prospect for war in northern Iraq that it hardly seems necessary to reiterate that call. But no one should doubt how serious the Kurds are about independence. They have patience, money, oil reserves, dedication, national consensus… It’s a matter of time. They’d rather do it peacefully, but they’re not particular.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman