Reading the tea leaves

Reading the tea leaves on whether the Bush Administration is considering a partition of Iraq:

[T]here are signs—slightly cryptic, but still worth noting—that the Bush Administration may be leaning towards partitioning Iraq. The main exhibit is an October 6 AP photograph of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani meeting in Irbil, the provincial seat. Rice and Barzani stood at a podium, flanked by a red, white, and green Kurdish tricolor flag. Neither the Iraqi flag, nor any other indication that the Secretary of State was in Iraq, was in view.

. . .

Given that in September, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a declaration that the Iraqi flag must be flown in all regions (Kurdish nationalists call the Iraqi flag “the flag of Ba’ath”), it’s hard to believe that Rice’s protocol people could let this one slip by accidentally. Imagine a foreign prime minister visiting America in 1861 and giving a speech while standing in front of a confederate flag—it’s hard to imagine a Secretary of State could have missed such symbolism—and the Kurdish press certainly didn’t.

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