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A Referendum For Kurdistan?

The assassination of the President of Iraq's Governing Council makes it crystal clear that the US is failing to create the minimal law-and-order needed for any sort of orderly transfer of power to take place by June 30th. Barely two months ago, the signing of a constitutional document by a US-appointed group of un-elected Iraqi officials was heralded as if it were the re-enactment of America's constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

But by now it is clear that this is a worthless piece of paper. No imposed constitution, however elegant it may be, will be very helpful to Coalition forces when confronted with the type of mayhem seen in towns like Fallujah or Najjaf.

In the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, however, the situation is completely different: in the last ten years, under the protection of the Allies' no-fly zone, and even more so since the toppling of Saddam, the Kurdish regional government has been able to establish and sustain a relatively orderly administration. It has overcome tribal and party differences and created a de facto functioning government, with an impressive record on development issues such as education, irrigation, and construction - and, above all, with no violence.

Confronted with the debacle in the rest of (Arab) Iraq, the question has to be asked why the US-led coalition should not hold a referendum in the Kurdish region, asking the population how they would like to be ruled. After all, the Kurds have, by any internationally accepted standards, a right to self-determination.