Monday, October 22, 2007

We Created Another Monster

There is a growing storm brewing in Iraq that no one seems to want to talk about. Although it may be a long ways off, it is brewing none the less. The storm I speak of is the Kurdish issue in Iraq and how it will affect its neighbors, specifically Turkey.

There is growing rhetoric and posturing on both sides concerning this volatile issue that has been simmering for a while now. It began when the US, after the first gulf war created a semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. For over 10 years the Kurds have had the run of northern Iraq under the protection of the US and have been held out by this administration as a model of democracy. In our usual benevolent way we have armed and financially backed the Kurds allowing them to have free rein in that region. Now granted this region has been a model of stability for Iraq, however considering the other regions in Iraq this is not really hard to do. It’s sort of like being the valedictorian of the “special class”. Your parents are proud, but you’re not going to get a call from Harvard. By allowing the Kurds to progress autonomous of the rest of Iraq, we have created a separate entity that does not seem to have much federalist or Iraqi nationalist fervor.

Fouad Masoun, a Kurdish legislator and deputy chairman of the parliament's constitution review committee, said: "There are some revisions which are necessary, but there are also demands by certain parties we reject, such as returning Iraq to a centralized government or reducing the powers of the Kurdistan region and other regions.

The Kurds do have nationalistic plans, but for the Kurdistan Republic and thus the tension with Turkey. For those that don’t know, Turkey has a large minority population of Kurds who have been trying to become autonomous. The idea of having a nation of Kurdistan on its border has always been unacceptable to Turkey. The issue has continued to complicate our relationship with Turkey whom we consider an ally in the region. Turkey does not want its Kurdish population to get any ideas of becoming autonomous, which is becoming more and more difficult as the Iraqi Kurds get more autonomy. Should the Iraqi Kurds complete their plan to annex the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a serious diplomatic crisis would ensue. So far, the administration has been able to placate the Kurds through cash and concessions. Should the situation in Iraq continue to deteriorate the Kurds being the strongest and most organized force in Iraq could basically take the city and the oil revenues that it represents. If this were to happen the war would immediately escalate into a regional conflict that Washington could no longer manage.

The Kurds are doing their best to carve out enough oil revenue to fund their nationalistic plans. They have continued to resist having Iraq’s huge oil reserves under the authority of the central government which would go a long way to insure that Iraq remains unified. The Kurds have made their intentions known that they would prefer to have Iraq divided. They also are in favor of independent PSA’s for the oil reserves with foreign oil companies taking control and negotiated at the regional level, again to keep the oil revenues in their hands.

Currently we have a war of words and rhetoric between the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks, but history tells us this will not continue for much longer. Rather than spending some of the “political capital” he may still have, the President and this administration are hoping that this crisis will just go away. You know the same strategy they are prescribing for that whole “global warming” thing.

Mark it down people, we have not heard the end of this confrontation and as long as it is ignored it will continue to fester and spread. This is another of those worsening situations that invading Iraq has fostered. This will be no “Young Frankenstein” I’m afraid.

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