With my colleague Sophia Jones, who is reporting from the Kurdish region of Iraq, we have an English-language scoop of an overlooked statement from last Friday made by a top Turkish official to a Kurdish outlet, which we’ve confirmed as authentic. That Turkey is now open to an independent Kurdistan on its border is a reversal of historic proportions and is likely to reshape the very borders in the region.
« The Kurds of Iraq can decide for themselves the name and type of the entity they are living in, » Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for the Justice and Development Party, told the Kurdish online news outlet Rudaw last week.
The Kurds have been effectively autonomous since 1991, when the U.S. established a no-fly zone over northern Iraq. Turkey, a strong U.S. ally, has long opposed the creation of an independent Kurdistan so that its own eastern region would not be swallowed into it. But Celik’s statement indicates that the country may be starting to view an autonomous Kurdistan as a viable option — a sort of bulwark against spreading extremism within a deeply unstable country.
« The Kurds, like any other nation, will have the right to decide their fate, » Celik told Rudaw, in a story that was picked up by CNN’s Turkish-language outlet. « Turkey has been supporting the Kurdistan region till now and will continue this support. »
Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan have recently forged a strong bond over oil, much to the chagrin of Iraq, which claims that Baghdad has sole authority over oil in Kurdistan. Turkey recently signed a 50-year energy deal with Iraqi Kurdistan’s semi-autonomous government to export Kurdish oil to the north, and Kurdistan has increased its exports this week despite the insurgency by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk — known as « the Kurdish Jerusalem » — has long been an obstacle to independence. The Kurds controlled it briefly in 1991 before Saddam Hussein drove them out amid a horrific chemical weapons attack. Last week,they re-took control of the disputed city when Iraqi forces fled ISIS, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to give up the city’s oil reserves. Kirkuk is capable of producing as much as half of all of Iraq’s oil exports, although Kirkuk’s pipeline is currently offline following militant attacks in the spring.
On Tuesday, Sherko Jawdat, the chairman of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Natural Resources Committee, told The Huffington Post that Iraqi Kurdistan is aiming to claim a quarter of Iraq’s total oil sales.
“Oil has become an important political card in the region and the whole world,” he said. “Oil is key to Kurdistan’s economic independence, which will eventually lead to political independence.”
Syria and Iran have long opposed the creation of an independent Kurdistan, but Turkey has been the most significant obstacle, as it previously threatened to invade the area if the Kurds declared independence. With Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki tied up in civil wars, neither seems to be in a position to stop the Kurds from becoming fully independent.
The United States has also taken a stand against an independent Kurdistan, largely in support of Turkey. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a leading foreign policy voice in conservative circles, was stunned to hear that a Turkish spokesman had opened the door to what the U.S. has so long opposed. « I’m surprised, » he told The Huffington Post. « But what about the Kurds in Syria? What about the Kurds in Turkey? »
He said he worries that it would only create more instability and that he never believed in what he called « the Biden plan, » or independent Kurdish, Sunni and Shia states. Vice President Joe Biden strongly pushed for partition during the early stages of the Iraq war.
« The Biden plan of partitioning Iraq never made sense to me because the Sunni areas are held by people kicked out by al Qaeda, » he said. « Just absorb what I said. From Aleppo to Baghdad, you’re gonna have a radical Islamic Sunni group that was too radical for al Qaeda.
« This is what I worry about if you let Iraq fracture: Iranians are going to own the south. ISIS is going to own everything in the Sunni area, and if the Kurds break away, you’ve got friction for a long time to come between the Turks and Kurds because there are Kurdish elements in Syria, Iran and Turkey. »
The Kurds, he suggested, would not settle for a state only in what is today Iraq. « If the Kurds break away, are you going to create a movement inside of Syria? Inside of Turkey and Iran to have a Kurdish state that encompasses those people? So this thing could spiral out of control and that could be another front, » he said.
Laura Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that she would « refer [HuffPost] to the Turks regarding their views on Iraq. »
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, was much more open to Kurdish independence, suggesting that regional players must decide what’s best. « That’s such a complex part of the world over there and it’s not up to the United States to answer questions like that, » he said. « It’s for those folks to answer. »
Ryan Grim reported from Washington. http://huff.to/1lBLLg4
NOW WHAT ABOUT THE KURDS OF TURKEY ? WILL ERDOGAN GIVE THEM A PIECE OF LAND ? IT IS EASY TO TELL WHAT TO DO AT THE NEIGHBOR’S HOME. WHAT ABOUT YOU MR. PM ? WHAT ABOUT ARMENIAN GENOCIDE’s COMPENSATION ?
AND WAS THIS THE BUSH PLAN IN IRAQ : DISMANTLING A COUNTRY ? REVERSING THE CLOCK IN IRAQ SENDING THIS NATION BACK TO DARK TIMES ? HOW AN INTERVENTION IN THE NAME OF ENLIGHTENING PEOPLE – BRINGING THEM DEMOCRACY AS A CODE TO LIVE TOGETHER PEACEFULLY – HAS MORPHED INTO THIS NIGHTMARE ?
OBAMA MUST COME TO THE BAR OF HISTORY AND BRING AN ANSWER. THIS TIME A CORRECT ONE.
YET TO BE HONNEST, AL MALIKI WAS THE MAN WHO PRESSED AMERICA TO LEAVE THE WAR STAGE IN IRAQ PREMATURELY. HE THEN PRETENDED EVERYTHING WAS IN CONTROL BY HIS GOVERNMENT WHEREAS IT WAS NOT THE TRUTH.
AT THE TIME PRESIDENT OBAMA PROPOSED A PRESENCE OF A FORCE KEEPER IN THE LONG RUN TO PREVENT THE KIND OF SCENARIO IRAQ IS PRESENTED WITH RIGHT NOW. PRESIDENT AL-MALIKI OPPOSED WHAT WAS SEEN AS AN ABUSIVE OCCUPATION AND INDEED IT WAS.
THE TWO LOGICS CONFLAGRATED INTO THIS QUESTION : HOW AN ALREADY FORCE LOOK UPON LIKE OCCUPYING CAN STAY ANY LONGER WITHOUT WORSENING THE SITUATION ?
AMERICAN FORCES WERE NOT THE WORST EVENTHOUGH THEIR INTERVENTION WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
WHAT GOT IRAQ INTO THIS DIVISION IS THE BAD RULE OF AL-MALIKI. HIS SECTARIANISM SENT A MESSAGE OF DIVISION WHERE UNITY WAS NEEDY. AT THE BEGINNING HE PROMISED TO CORRECT IT. YEARS AFTER, THE PROMISE REMAINS UNFULFILLED. AL-MALIKI IS A BRUTAL DICTATOR. HE IS THE FIRST TO BE HOLD INTO ACCOUNT FOR IRAQI FAILURE.
BUT AL-MALIKI WAS AN AMERICAN CREATURE. THAT IS WHY AMERICA MUST ALSO FACE ITS RESPONSABILITY FOR THE MESS CREATED SINCE 2003 INSIDE IRAQ.
>>>>> Welcome Back To Reality, Neocons. (The National Memo)
Ironically, which side will America embrasse in Syria, knowing that the U.S have been providing lethal assistance to President Assad’s opposition. This aid was made public by one of those Assad’s opponents and the US didn’t deny the assertion. One should avoid confusing Syria with Iraq. Syria is much more like Lybia, considering the violation of international law and morality, for the evil intrusion of foreigners inside those once prosperous nations comprising their imperfections – but which nation hasn’t its own – in order to topple their leaders fomenting and forging and opposition, equate to « acts of criminality ». This is and should never be neither acceptable, nor tolerable, no matter the regime in place.
Some are arguing « legal and unilateral ingerence like here » for humanitarian causes. The fact is, until the US entered Syria to perpetrate the ignoble act described above, there were no Syrian refugees at the Tuskish border or elsewhere.
The Guardian’s article, “Barack Obama sends troops back to Iraq as Isis insurgency worsens,” in title alone leads the general population to believe the third “Iraq War” has begun. The article claims:
The US is urgently deploying several hundred armed troops in and around Iraq and considering sending an additional contingent of special forces soldiers as Baghdad struggles to repel a rampant insurgency.
Upon carefully reading the article, however, it is revealed that these troops are only to aid in the security of the US embassy in Baghdad. Buried 11 paragraphs down, amid suggestions, speculation, and conjecture, is the true nature of the latest deployment:
Obama said in his notification to Congress that the military personnel being sent to Iraq would provide support and security for the American embassy in Baghdad, but was “equipped for combat”.
All troops participating in such missions to protect and possibly evacuate US embassies anywhere on Earth are “equipped for combat.” This hyperbole at best is sensationalism, and at worst, intentional disinformation meant to further undermine the stability of Baghdad’s government, by implying that it both seeks and depends on US military forces for its continued survival.
Image: US troops aren’t going “to Iraq.” They are going to bolster security at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Attempts to portray the routine move as an “intervention” is a ploy to undermine the credibility and sovereignty of the Iraqi government.
It has been previously reported that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a creation of the United States and its regional allies, with the CIA itself monitoring, arming, and funding the terrorist organization along the Turkish-Syrian border for the past 3 years. The ISIS’ incursion into northern Iraq was portended by their very public redeployment to eastern Syria in March 2014 where they then prepared for the invasion of Iraq.
Since invading, they have committed themselves to overt, sectarian bloodshed in an attempt to trigger reprisals across Iraq along sectarian lines and create a wider sectarian conflict. The relatively small ISIS force can and will be overwhelmed by Iraqi security forces if the psychological and strategic impact of its blitzkrieg-style tactics can be exposed and blunted. In the meantime, during this closing window of opportunity, the US in particular is struggling to undermine both the sociopolitical stability of Iraq itself, and the credibility of the government in Baghdad. Ironically, to do this, the US is posing as Baghdad’s ally.