McClatchy is reporting that the Iranian government has now launched a series of airstrikes and artillery barrages along the Northern Iraq border, in autonomous Kurdistan. Those attacks are coupled with a small scale troop incursion in the Kurdish-Iranian mountains.
Iran cites a threat from a small group of Kurdish terrorists who operate loosely along the Iran-Northern Iraq border, which -- regardless of its accuracy -- is a laughable accusation coming from the world's single largest exporter of terrorism.
Kurdistan is a faithful, almost fervent, U.S. ally who wants nothing more than to create a prosperous Western style, capitalistic democracy. Visiting two weeks ago, I was struck by the magnitude of their recovery from the brutal Baathist reign. High-rises and new apartment buildings are abundant, as are new schools and universities, and a sparkling new airport -- one built to exacting U.S.-European standards, which boasts the 4th longest commercial runway in the world-- that will be available later this summer. This phoenix-like ascent comes a mere 7 years after the region, strangled by the Baathist regime's denial of basic services like power and water, looked more medieval than 21st century.
Kurdistan is not without its problems, of course. Under all the new construction and schools and citizens smartly dressed in the latest European attire were the same problems faced by any fledgling new nations -- corruption, issues with media freedom, the occasional electoral irregularity, and so on.
Despite these imperfections, Kurdistan represents everything that the United States had hoped for when it entered Iraq. A people swollen with optimism, grateful for their freedom and liberation, and ready to stand as a responsible, successful member of the international community. As such, Iran recognizes that a successful, prosperous Kurdistan is a direct threat to their dictatorial regime and thus is seeking to disrupt, destabilize, and dismantle that progress both overtly and covertly.
The United States still holds the reins of security and stability in Iraq, and, by default, Kurdistan. They should guard this jewel of the Middle East jealously.