|IRAQI KURDISTAN by J. B. Russell|
|Everyday thousands of tanker trucks transport crude oil from Iraq to Turkey, much of it part of a large black market. In order to traverse Iraqi Kurdistan the trucks pay a "tax" to the Kurdish authorities. Although the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), fought each other during the mid 1990s, they seems to have now settled their differences to cooperate in the building of their nascent nation.||
Many Iraqi Kurds refer to the past few years as Kurdistans "golden age". Nevertheless, the situation for the Kurds is tenuous. Iraqi forces are amassed just over the frontline between Iraq proper and Iraqi Kurdistan, only a few kilometers from the regions main cities. An Islamic extremist group, Ansar al-Islam, continues to control a mountainous enclave along the Iranian border near the town of Halabja, from where they launch daily attacks on Kurdish territory.