Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani says ‘the time is here‘ for self-determination.
Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave his strongest-ever indication on Monday that his region would seek formal independence from the rest of Iraq.
“Iraq is obviously falling apart,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview. “And it’s obvious that the federal or central government has lost control over everything. Everything is collapsing – the army, the troops, the police.”
“We did not cause the collapse of Iraq. It is others who did. And we cannot remain hostages for the unknown,” he said through an interpreter.
“The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.”
Iraqi Kurds Deliver Oil to Israel
In a move that draws criticism from the U.S. State Department, Iraqi Kurds Deliver Oil to Israel.
Oil piped from Iraqi Kurdistan has been successfully delivered directly by the region’s semiautonomous government for the first time, despite opposition from the U.S. and the Iraqi central government.
The Kurdish Regional Government said late Friday that one million barrels of its oil piped through the Turkish port of Ceyhan “was safely delivered to the buyers.” The KRG declined to say who the buyers were.
The oil is currently being unloaded at an Israeli port, according to officials at the terminal.
The U.S. State Department confirmed the delivery, criticizing the semiautonomous region’s unilateral sale without Baghdad’s approval and warning buyers of its oil.
Criticism is Not Intervention
Criticism is not intervention. Nor is pressure. Nor is sending 300 military advisors to Iraq. Nor is sending the U.S. Secretary of State to Iraq in an attempt to stop the Kurds from “Going It Alone”.
How do I know these things?
US secretary of state says “Troop Deployment to Iraq is Not Intervention“.
US secretary of state John Kerry has urged Kurdish leaders to stand with Baghdad and insisted that the imminent deployment of American military forces is “not intervention” in Iraq’s affairs.
As fighting continued for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery at Baiji, Kerry flew to the Kurdish region on an emergency trip through the Middle East amid fears that Iraq faces disintegration under the onslaught by Islamist militants – the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) – backed by disgruntled Sunni tribes.
In an interview with American journalist Andrea Mitchell, Kerry diminished the deployment of up to 300 irregular forces, expected to come largely from US army special forces.
“Well, that’s not intervention,” Kerry said.
Kerry characterized the so-called “advisory” mission – “planning, advising, some training and assisting” – as something short of intervention, since “we are not here in a combat role. We are not here to fight. And the president has no intention – none whatsoever – of returning American combat troops in Iraq to go back to where we were.”
Ninety of those troops, organized into four teams, arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to begin establishing a “joint operations center” with the Iraqi military, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said. They join 30 “advisers” already there on secondment from the US embassy.
Something Short of Intervention
Please note the new definition of intervention requires sending combat troops. Clearly that opens up all sorts of possibilities for U.S. “non-intervention” all over the world.
Kurds Mull Going It Alone
Bloomberg reports Kurds Mull Going It Alone.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with leaders in Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, today to make his case for national unity to the ethnic minority that may hold the only winning hand in the country’s sectarian turmoil.
Kerry held talks with Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and other Kurdish leaders, bringing the same plea for cooperation he delivered yesterday to Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad.
Kerry told CNN in an interview after a 50-minute meeting that Barzani “made it clear that he wants to participate in the process, that he wants to help choose the next government” of Iraq. Kerry didn’t say Barzani disavowed Kurdish aspirations for independence.
A decision to go forward with independence would affect not only the future of about 17 percent of Iraq’s population of 33 million, but also whether the nation of Iraq dissolves into a loose federation or disappears. Either outcome would be a tectonic shift in regional politics with implications for neighbors Turkey, Iran and Syria, which also have Kurdish minorities.
The U.S. has said it wants Iraq to maintain its territorial integrity and seek a peaceful outcome through a new government that respects the interests of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The Obama administration would strongly oppose Kurdish independence now as “another nail in the coffin of the Baghdad government,” said Morton Abramowitz, a senior fellow in Washington at the Century Foundation and a former U.S. diplomat.
Turkey’s Best Ally: The Kurds
New York Times contributing writer Mustafa Akyol says Turkey’s Best Ally: The Kurds.
When the Iraqi city of Mosul was captured on June 10 by the armed militias of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, many world leaders were shocked and concerned. Turkey’s leaders were more alarmed than most; ISIS militants stormed the Turkish consulate in Mosul and kidnapped 100 Turkish citizens, some of them diplomats.
Back in Turkey, a heated media debate abruptly came to a halt after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his usual authoritarian tone, asked the media “to follow this issue silently.” Two days later, an Ankara court issued a gag order, banning all sorts of news and commentary on the events in Mosul. The reason, the court explained, was first “to protect the safety of the hostages” but also to prevent “news that depicts the state in weakness.”
But Turks need to discuss their state’s weaknesses, and the mistakes made in the multiple crises along the country’s southeastern borders.
By focusing so singularly on toppling Mr. Assad, and turning a blind eye for quite some time to the anti-Assad extremists, it unwittingly helped create a monster.
Yet still there is one bright spot in the region — and it is a direct result of Mr. Davutoglu’s “zero problems” vision: Iraqi Kurdistan, which is now Turkey’s best ally in Iraq, if not the whole region.
This is deeply ironic, of course, because for decades Turkey was paranoid about Kurds and their political ambitions — both at home and abroad. The Erdogan-Davutoglu team, along with President Abdullah Gul, gradually turned this bitterness with the Kurds into reconciliation and eventually an alliance.
The alliance between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan has grown over the past five years, as Turkey invested heavily in the partly autonomous Iraqi region, opened a consulate in its capital Erbil, and Mr. Erdogan even befriended its leader, Masoud Barzani.
The relationship was further cemented earlier this month, when Ankara signed a 50-year deal with Iraqi Kurdistan’s leaders, allowing them to export Kurdish oil to the world via a pipeline that runs through Turkey. The deal, which was opposed by Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, indicates that Turkey now sees Iraqi Kurdistan as a strategic partner, and cares very little about the territorial integrity of Iraq that it used to obsess about.
It’s no wonder, then, that a spokesman for Mr. Erdogan’s party recently announced that Turkey would support Iraqi Kurds’ bid for self-determination. “The Kurds of Iraq can decide for themselves the name and type of the entity they are living in,” he said — a clear departure from traditional Turkish policy.
U.S. Wrong at Every Turn
On any critical foreign policy issue, especially in the Mideast, one should consider the likelihood the U.S. is wrong. In this case, it is clear that Mustafa Akyol knows what he is talking about, and Kerry doesn’t.
Iraq has changed. There is no way to reinstall Sadaam Hussein and undo U.S. idiocies in the region. It would be best for all involved for the US to get the hell out of the way and let the Kurds deal with this as they see best.
Having totally messed up every step of the way, no one should welcome U.S. intervention no matter how Kerry labels it.
Iraq was once three pieces.
With Turkey no longer in opposition, Iraq will soon be split in pieces again. Contrary to Obama administration beliefs, the splitting up of Iraq is likely the best outcome now. The sooner this all happens the better.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock