sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Kurdish Independence

Kurdish Flag
At the conclusion of the Iraq War, I suggested that the US force Iraq into a partition arrangement to separate the nation into three regions once we'd won the war:
  • Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) - as a Kurdish homeland.
  • Central Iraq - For the Sunnis
  • Southern Iraq - For the Shiites
Now I hear the wheels turning in your head, "Who are YOU to suggest such a dramatic move?" If you're saying that, you have a lot in common with the mandarins in the Bush Administration who said the same thing.

Back then President Bush, SECDEF Rumsfeld, etc. envisioned one Iraq, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Then the matter was mismanaged at a Biblically bad level and the whole place went to pot, Barack took over the USGOV and encouraged Iran to take over Iraq, which they did by proxy, and ISIS was a reaction to the Shiites moving in. It was all predictable and quite frankly, a trained chimp (essentially me) could have seen that train coming down the tracks.

Partition (it was explained to me) would have screwed up the boundaries of a sovereign country. Yes, the British set up those boundaries, but when I pointed that out, the mandarins moved on to their second objection. "If you did that, the Sunnis in Baghdad wouldn't have any oil." That is true. The oil is all located in the North (Kurdistan) and in the South, Shiite country with the Iranians would (and did) essentially annex. My reaction: tisk-tisk-tisk. So what? They can find something else to do for a living other than hanging out while some other nation pumps oil for them and hands them the royalties. After all WE WILL WIN THE WAR.

(a pause for the cause as American tanks rattled through the streets of Baghdad)

We won the war and we lost the war, and now we're back in the war cleaning things up at the cost of another trillion more or less. But the self-partition of Kurdistan is going forward and with President Trump in charge, I think that it might work for them. On 7 June, Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, announced that the date for a referendum on Kurdish independence is set for 25 September 2017.

Kurdish TV Rudaw reported that the date was set after a meeting of the Kurdish political parties, chaired by Barzani. Turkey, Syria and Iran denounced the announcement, as one would expect.

Hoshiyar Zebari, a former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Barzani, said the decision to hold the vote on 25 September was irreversible.
"We crossed the Rubicon with that decision, there is no going back," he told Reuters. A referendum is a democratic process, no democratic country can oppose having a referendum; we are not talking about independence; we are talking about the referendum."
Over the past three years, Iraqi Kurdish leaders have openly stated their intention to conduct a regional referendum on independence. They have insisted that the referendum’s purpose is to assess the opinions of the Kurdish people, not to justify secession...ok. Except that everyone knows that it means secession. But they say that they intend to use the inevitable vote in favor of independence to exert pressure on the government in Baghdad to get the best deal they can for Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Iraqis are splitting hairs in asserting that a referendum on Kurdish independence is not about Kurdish independence. No serious policy maker in Turkey, Syria, Iraq or Iran can afford to take that assertion seriously.

The Kurds have played a disproportionately large role in containing and defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and especially in Syria. In Iraq, their leaders are using the referendum to prepare their demand for political compensation now that Mosul, the last Islamic State strong point, has been liberated.

The Syrian Kurds also may be expected to press their demands for a federal Kurdish state in northern Syria after the liberation of Raqqa. Their leaders have moved ahead with preparations for regional autonomy while the fighting continues and over the objections of the Syrian government.

The recent decision by the Trump Administration to arm the Kurds with modern defensive weapons including high quality anti-tank weapons (which could conceivably be used against our NATO ally, Turkey, when they invade Kurdistan), has not been well received outside Kurdistan. The Iraqis, who read the tea leaves, know that the US is bankrolling them and they can play ball by giving up Northern Iraq or they can experience regime change...

Kurdish oil has to reach market and the current deal would call for it to be piped through Iraq (for a fee), which means that the Iraqis still make out ok in the situation. And while I claim that Iraq is a satrap for Iran, they have become 'uppity' toward Iran recently even though they're Shiite-run. The idea that they could profit disproportionately more without Iran taking a cut appeals to them.

22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Donald Trump wasn't President a long time ago.

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    2. True Dat! It's one of those obvious oil and vinegar diplomatic solutions to an oil and vinegar situations.

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  2. The Kurds take a dim view of ISIS. I like that.

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    1. They've been stalwart allies. Then again they are acting in accordance with their best interests in a region that wants them all dead.

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  3. Best of luck to the Kurds. Next, a big fat country for the Christians, and maybe one for the Yazidis. Or maybe not. I don't think the US needs to be in the business of guaranteeing their safety in the midst of a seething, swarming bloodthirsty mass of barbaric muslims.

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    1. I think that we have an interest in arming the Kurds and helping them to defend their turf. Once the oil flows, they can buy their own bullets and butter. At present their cash crop is opium and has been for 3,000 years or so... They're a thorn in the side of Iran, Syria and Turkey, and they are an overflight problem for us if Iraq shuts them down...an island in a sea of misery. Israel has an ocean boundary that the Kurds lack.

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  4. About time. Maybe we move our base from Turkey to Kurdistan?

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    1. There's an air base near Mosul that the 101st jumped in on in the Iraq war. The base became a staging area for US logistics and the push south toward Baghdad. I don't know that condition of the base or the runway, but that would be a place to start.

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    2. I agree. We need to get out of Turkey and I think Kurdistan would be the best choice.

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  5. I seem to recall that at the end of Gulf War I that the Kurds were pretty damn close to being able to overthrow Saddam, and most likely would have if we'd backed them with things as simple as weapons.

    For some arcane reason Bush The Elder didn't think it was prudent, and we left the Kurds twisting in the wind.

    I'm almost surprised they'd have anything to do with us, but then having lived in the Middle East for some time I suppose I should know (or remember enough) not to let anything that happens there "surprise" me.....

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    1. The issue is the Turks, who kill Kurds for fun and profit. The Bush family was tied to our NATO ally - which has gone full fundamentalist Muslim now. Things have changed and there is a window that can be used to give the Kurds a foothold. I hope that it will happen.

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    2. Ahhhh....I understand now. I wasn't as politically astute back then as I am now. It's not much, but it's a start...

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  6. Aren't the Syrian Kurds a different group/tribe than the Iraqi Kurds? I hear them described as socialists or under socialist control while the Iraqi Kurds aren't. FWIW.

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    1. They are, but Greater Kurdistan can have an Iraqi component, a Syrian component and an Iranian component... Iran is well aware of the issue. They all speak Kurdish. Yes, I know that Kurdish is not a unified language but a dialect continuum, however it is unique to the Kurds and it tends to unite them. And given that everyone wants them dead, they can hang together or hang separately.

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    2. LL,
      Are the Kurdish dialects similar like Spanish, Italian and Portuguese?

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  7. Since our government has a long history of stabbing the Kurds in the back, they must keep in mind when you sup with the devil, better use a long spoon.

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    1. Our government stabs everyone in the back including its best and brightest. At least we can be said to be consistent.

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  8. LL,

    Sadly for the region it all comes down to LCD, lowest common denominator, money/power. Under the guise of "religious fervor" or chasing women, the self interest of those in charge to stay in charge is the problem and the Sunnis having less oil will be the undoing. The Shia and Kurds will be happy but the Sunnis will be the turd in the ointment.

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    1. The "Great Sunni Hope" in that part of the world was ISIS and it's about to lose its last stronghold as the US Military and the Syrian Kurds are reducing it to rubble.

      As you suggest, money and power are always the causal element - but things in that part of the world are always even more complicated.

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  9. LL,

    There are true believers over there, but they benefit at some level. Whether they are suicide vest wearing worker bees or the hierarchy of the clergy. I would think that to rise to the top you have to be a bit smarter and realize that the only way to stay on top is to shove the tripe of islam down the throats of the males who benefit by subjugating the females and non-mooselimbs. The losers are the non-mooselimbs, the less ardent mooselimb and the women. But the catch 22 keeps the male "believers" "believing" as it is in their best interest. qui bono

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