Kurdistan: Iraq's Next Battleground?

Kurdish northern Iraq is largely a peaceful corner of a nation devastated by war, but its desire for independence could create even more instability

Kate Brooks / Polaris for TIME

A Kurdish family celebrates Nowruz, a holiday marking the Kurdish New Year and the start of spring. Since 2003, no U.S troops have been killed in Kurdish Iraq.

Like residents of Berlin during the airlift, inhabitants of Arbil--capital of the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq--get a little flutter in their hearts when they see a plane coming in to land. Built after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Arbil's international airport is a symbol to Kurds that their years of isolation as an oppressed ethnic minority are over and that the Kurdish region, unlike the rest of Iraq, is open for business. Passengers flying into Baghdad have to endure a corkscrew landing to avoid possible surface-to-air missiles. But a trip to Arbil is so safe that on my flight...

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