Sunday, June 29, 2014

Finally, Independent Kurdistan- Re-Re-Drawing The Map Of The Middle East


You may have read this weekend that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Israel has had "discreet" intelligence relations with the Kurds for 5 decades and has more recently been selling oil to Israel directly (via a pipeline through Turkey to a Kurdish tanker in the Mediterannean).
Baghdad has threatened legal action against anyone who buys the Kurdish cargoes, and the US and several European countries have warned firms not to accept them.

Israel, however, does not have any contracts with Baghdad, so it would face limited consequences for buying or transshipping oil from Ceyhan [in Turkey]. It also has maintained quiet ties with Kurdish leaders, viewing a future Kurdish state as a useful ally on the periphery of the Arab world.

"The KRG is coy about dealing with Israel because of the controversy and the emotion that Israel brings about in the Muslim world," said Shwan Zulal, a Kurdish energy analyst. "But if Israel is willing to be supportive, and other countries are not, the Kurds will deal with them."

There could soon be even more oil flowing through Ceyhan. The KRG seized control of Kirkuk earlier this month amid the chaos caused by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's offensive in Iraq. Oil fields in Kirkuk account for half of Iraq's exports, and Kurdish leaders are talking about diverting their new-found supplies through the northern pipeline.
Netanyahu said the Kurds are "a nation of fighters and have proved political commitment and are worthy of independence." He's hardly the first to think so but not many people in the West talk about it since it sends Turkey in paroxysms of paranoia and because the U.S. still has some kind of amorphous delusion it can will the fictional country known as Iraq to stay together, something Kerry himself questioned years ago.
[President Shimon] Peres told Obama he believes Iraq will not survive as a unified state without "massive military intervention," a course he doesn't recommend, adding that the Kurds have established a de-facto independent democracy of their own, backed by Turkey. In his talk with Kerry, [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman said that "Iraq is collapsing before our eyes, and the establishment of an independent Kurdish state is a done deal."
A little background might help. This whole part of the world was part of the Ottoman Empire until that long-crumbling entity was dealt a coup de grâce after it picked the wrong side in World War I. The Treaty of Sèvres and the Treaty of Lausanne, dictated by the British, Italians and French left the Anatolian heartland to the Turks but helped create independent countries now known as Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Hejaz (the forerunner of Saudi Arabia), Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt, Sudan and Libya. And then there was Kurdistan.

The Kurdish people were split in two by the Persian and Ottoman (Turkish) empires. Kurdistan almost became was the reality of an independent nation state after World War I but with the ending of the Empire and the ascension of Kemal Atatürk, the Kurds' hopes were dashed. Most of "Kurdistan" became part of modern Turkey, with other areas encompassed by Iran, Iraq and Syria. The Kurds tried again after World War II, with even less success. In 1992, though, after the first U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Kurds were given a substantial degree of autonomy, although Turkey was adamant that they not be granted independence, fearing it would rally the millions of disgruntled Kurds in eastern Anatolia.

More recently, the Kurds in Syria have seized effective governmental control during that country's civil war and with the big moves made by ISIS this month, they have all but declared independence in Iraq, their relationship with the U.S. being the only thing that's kep them from doing so. Although the two biggest Syrian cities that would be part of Kurdistan-- Al-Hasakah and Qamishli-- each has less than 200,000 inhabitants, Kermanshah in Iran has over 800,000 inhabitants and Turkish Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan both have several large cities-- Erbil (about 1.3 million) and Sulaymaniyah (1.2 million), Dohuk (900,000), and Kirkuk (851,000) in Iraq and Diyarbakır (843,460), Urfa (526,247), Van (370,190), and Batman (348,963) in Turkey. Between 15and 18% of the Turkish population-- around 12 million people-- are Kurds, although Kurdish sources say the number of Kurds in Turkey is over 20 million). There are 7 million Kurds in Iran. Iraqi Kurdistan has 4,691,000 people, although there are significant numbers of Kurds living in Baghdad and Mosul as well. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria and make up over 10% of the country's population-- over 2 million people. Other countries with large Kurdish diasporas include Russian, Germany, Israel, France, Sweden, Lebanon, Jordan, Holland and Belgium.

What's changed facts on the ground now is that Kurdish military forces have repelled the same ISIS forces that the Iraqi military fled from. They've established a de facto independent country that Turkey has been signaling it might accept.
Turkey's ruling party has indicated that it is ready to accept an independent Kurdish state in what is currently northern Iraq following the charge of Islamist militants through the country's northern regions.

"In the past an independent Kurdish state was a reason for war [for Turkey] but no one has the right to say this now," Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, told the Financial Times.

"In Turkey, even the word 'Kurdistan' makes people nervous, but their name is Kurdistan," he added.

"If Iraq is divided and it is inevitable, they are our brothers . . . Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq is not good and it looks like it is going to be divided."

A Kurdish state is viewed in Ankara as a possible buffer against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which has shown the threat the group poses to regional security following the capture of Mosul and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

More than 80 Turkish citizens - specifically diplomats, special forces and truck drivers - are being held hostage in Mosul, Iraq's second city, and Turkey shares borders with both Iraq (300km long) and Syria (approximately 900km long) where Isis is waging violent insurgencies.

Celik blamed both Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the US for the instability in neighbouring Iraq.

 "They didn't bring peace, stability, unity, they just left chaos, widows, orphans. They created a Shia bloc to the south of our country."

The spokesman admits that an independent Kurdish state was not Turkey's "number one choice" but they would live with it if northern Iraqi Kurds broke away from Baghdad.

"The Turks don't want to encourage independence and caution against hasty moves, but if it happens they will live with it," one foreign diplomat told the Financial Times.

"As they see it, if it happens the Kurds will be in their sphere of influence and under their control."

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey no longer harbours ambitions of independence. This is believed to have eased Turkish fears surrounding the formation of a greater Kurdistan and possible erosion of its territorial integrity.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the factually enlightening post and analysis. Reading it made me think of how the U.S. brokered and sponsored both Iraq and Iran in their war against each other in the 1980s. It seems that's what our Iraq adventure was ultimately about. Sure we wanted Iraqi oil if we could have it. But the oilmen-in-chiefs during the W. Bush years didn't really care if it went to the U.S. or European oil interests. They were simply interested in ultimately creating chaos. That's why the destroyed the Iraqi way of life and set the various old Ottoman constituencies against each other (The U.S. ruling oiligarchs knew very well that would happen). Now, with an independent Kurdistan as the exception, the Sunnis and Shias are/will be at each other's throats again as during the 1980s, with Iran and Saudi Arabia squaring off indirectly in Iraq, with Iran providing military and other support, including forces and equipment, to try to roll back the ISIS in Iraq, or at least hold onto Baghdad and southern Iraq, as well as strategic refinery cities and such. The real anarchists - the bad kind - are the U.S. oiligarchs and other U.S. and western imperialists, who've played this game for centuries and know how to achieve their malignant goals: Divide the 'enemy' and let them exhaust themselves and their resources fighting each other. Then go in and pick up the spoils again as usual, after selling both sides the weapons to beat up each other.

- Larry Piltz

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The corollary to my above comment is that the U.S. will appear to Iran as being an ally, as the U.S. provides weapons and other support to the Shia government of Iraq, while at the same time the U.S. continues its BFF cozying up to Saudia Arabia, it's ultimate ally in the region if not world, all for the goal of straining and reducing Iran's capabilities and ability to go an independent course, ostensibly forcing them into the direction of the West.

- Larry

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Ivan Alexander Smith Romero said...

It should say "Turkish Kurdistan" rather than "Turkey Kurdistan" on the map

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go home Larry, you're drunk.


Post a Comment

<< Home