Kurdistan – yet another long term British and US policy triumph


" … the Iraqi military announced that elite units had been "re-deployed" at the K1 base, about 5km (3 miles) north-west of the city of Kirkuk, and that other troops had taken control of the nearby Leylan area, the Baba Gurgur oilfield, and the headquarters of the North Oil Company.

The military also said troops had taken control of a military airport, police station, power plant and several industrial areas, as well as key bridges, roads, junctions.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council accused Baghdad of launching an "unprovoked attack" and said the Peshmerga would "continue to defend Kurdistan, its peoples and interests".

Peshmerga had destroyed five US-made Humvees used by the Popular Mobilisation, a paramilitary force dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias, it added."  BBC


Iraq was created as a by-product of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One (1914-1918).  The present territory of Iraq had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks for several hundred years.  At Versailles the British were given what is now Iraq as a "mandatory territory" with the intention that the area be made independent at some point in the future.  Britain decided to cobble together something called the "Kingdom of Iraq" in this mandatory area.  There was no Iraqi People when this state was created.  There was no group that thought of itself as Iraqi.  There were a number of distinct populations that had little in common;  Arab Sunni Muslims, Arab Shia Muslims,  Kurdish Sunni Muslims, Kurdish Shia Muslims, Kurdish Yaziidis, Turcomans, Assyrian Christians, Chaldean Christians and Jews.  None of these groups particularly liked each other.  Nor did they like the Hashemite prince that the British installed as their king.

Soon after Iraqi independence was granted in 1925 revolts against the central government's authority began.  Kurdish revolts, Arab Revolts, etc.  Kurdish and Arab revolts had actually begun before 1925 in the period of direct British rule.  The British had actually exiled the Barzani of the day to India.  The Kurds of NE Iraq have been more or less in some form of revolt since 1925.  There have been periods when either the Talabani or Barzani Kurds have formed temporary alliances with the Baghdad government usually in an effort to screw the other major Kurdish faction but in general the pattern of resistance to Arab rule has been persistent.

The history of the State of Iraq from 1925 until the destruction of the state by the US in 2003 was characterized by a continual effort by the various Baghdad government to create an Iraqi national identity that subsumed the various groups that had happened to be in what became Iraq's sovereign territory.  IMO the emergence of Iraqi Man was still a work in progress when US invasion halted the process.

A new Iraqi state emerged under US occupation and covert Iranian tutelage.  This state is dominated by Shia Arabs.  IMO if a choice must be made in the future between the US as a sponsor or Iran the Shia government will turn away from the US and face east.  The Borgists believe that the US should have refused to withdraw its forces from Iraq and that the US will be able to refuse a future Iraqi demand for US withdrawal.  It is a big mistake to think the US could do that.  A refusal would inevitably lead to another country wide guerrila rebellion against the US.

In the present circumstance the US has encouraged both the KRG and the Baghdad government to think that it is our one true love.  Since these two historic actors have mutually exclusive and deeply held goals and desires, that  was a very foolish thing for the US to do. 

Will there be a secessionist war?  Probably there will be such a war.  The oil in the north of Iraq certainly exacerbates the crisis since the new Kurdish state would need the income to survive. 

As Churchill said. "just one damned thing after another."  pl



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118 Responses to Kurdistan – yet another long term British and US policy triumph

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you. Clear, concise and pithy! I wish you were still “in the rotation” of the talking heads…

  2. Clueless Joe says:

    McCain warning Baghdad that there will be “severe consequences” if US-provided equipment and US-trained army keep on being used against the Kurds and not against ISIS will only push them further towards Iran and, to a lesser extent, Russia.
    In a way, Borgists should actually be glad this happens now, since this ties up a lot of Iraqi forces and PMU that could be sent West and might help SAA – if not directly, at least indirectly by destroying ISIS and helping SAA to take over the East.

  3. Rd says:

    “As Churchill said. “just one damned thing after another.””
    Looks like US FP is betting on the wrong horse again!!!, same for the Barzani clan. the question could be, would this be the end of Barzani?

  4. Most reports are saying the Iraqi Army and PMU are quickly gaining control of Kirkuk and the nearby oilfields. The PUK Peshmerga withdrew from these areas refusing to fight the Iraqi Army. The KDP Peshmerga are not putting up much of a fight. This all sounds very familiar. I wonder if the Green Berets are once again watching forces they trained squaring off against each other. I know how that feels.

  5. JamesT says:

    It seems to me this whole Iraqi Kurdistan thing blew up as the SAA and the SDF found themselves facing off east of the Euphrates. If the PMU were not occupied in Iraq I assume they would be in eastern Syria helping the SAA secure the Baghdad to Damascus highway and those oil fields east of the Euphrates. The referendum in Iraq seems timed perfectly to help the Kurds in Syria take more territory.

  6. A.Pols says:

    It’s a good summation of the last 100 years.
    Ah, Perfidious Albion!!
    It can be tough for divergent elements to make common cause voluntarily, but
    to be forced together by someone neither one likes is a dog that won’t hunt.
    Why are we led by people with “Halitosis of the intellect”?
    (Credit given to harold Ickes)

  7. The USG has chosen a side. US embassy spokesman quoted as saying: “We support the peaceful reassertion of federal authority, consistent with the Iraqi Constitution, in all disputed areas.” I’m sure the YPK in Rojava are hearing this loud and clear.

  8. outthere says:

    Why You Should Read These Military Classics
    They tell us much about service life and futile imperial adventures.
    By Andrew J. Bacevich • October 16, 2017
    There are, in my judgment, three great novels that explore American military life in the twentieth century. They are, in order of publication, Guard of Honor (1948) by James Gould Cozzens, From Here To Eternity (1951) by James Jones, and The Sand Pebbles (1962) by Richard McKenna.
    The first is a book about airmen, set at a stateside air base during World War II. The second is a soldier’s story, its setting Schofield Barracks in the territory of Hawaii on the eve of Pearl Harbor. In The Sand Pebbles, the focus is on sailors. It takes place in China during the 1920s when U.S. Navy gunboats patrolled the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

  9. turcopolier says:

    I have very little confidence in the USG being able to follow a clear policy in Iraq. pl

  10. DJK says:

    In 1920 the population of Iraq was under 3 million; now it’s about 37 million and growing fast. It’s a little unfair to blame Britain (I know, everyone does…) for not forseeing problems 100 years hence in a country of ten times the size.

  11. mike says:

    Colonel –
    It started long before 1925. There was a Kurdish uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th Century. There were several more in the following centuries against various dynasties, continuing up until the Second Mahmud Barzanji revolt in 1922. Those are only in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan and do not include the many other uprisings in Iran and Turkey.

  12. Bill Herschel says:

    This is wildly off-topic and must be treated as such.
    In the Times today we read about the U.S. going through a routine exercise to evacuate U.S. dependents in South Korea in the event of war. Apparently, the U.S. military is going out of its way to emphasize the routine nature of this exercise.
    In the financial news we have an entity called the Korea Fund.
    It is behaving as though there is absolutely no threat of war on the peninsula at all. None.

  13. turcopolier says:

    IMO it is quite fair to blame Britain as well as the US for this mess. It was the British who decided to structure the country the way it is. from this all else followed. pl

  14. Fredw says:

    “I have very little confidence in the USG being able to follow a clear policy in Iraq.”
    I’ll second that. I think it is up to the Kurds to work out a policy that leaves them strong at the end of this. I can imagine them winning such a war, but it is hard for me to see how they then make that work. Their oil has to go out somewhere to support their state, i.e. though Iraq, Iran, Turkey, or Syria. None of those neighbors is likely to be very friendly, but maybe they can work that out. On the other hand it seems a good bet that Iraqi government capabilities will begin to deteriorate almost immediately once ISIS is removed. The Kurds need a vision and a policy to keep as independent and as strong as possible. Their call.

  15. Linda says:

    Amen! It seems to me that we had very little thought (or none) about the consequences when we started training and deploying th3 peshmerga for Iraq or Turkey. This current situation was easy to see coming

  16. turcopolier says:

    Well, I had to start somewhere, but you are right. The Kurds have always been difficult. BTW, the Kurds typically do not revere Saladin whom they consider to have been very Arabicized. pl

  17. LeaNder says:

    Linda, you feel it had been wiser to simply let the Daesh forces take over both regions in Iraq and Syria?

  18. eakens says:

    The Kurds are morons for buying the snake oil they were being sold. They were running scared in Erbil. What makes them think they would have fared any better, without the Iranian help they cried out for to defend Erbil.

  19. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Difficult? Yes, like the Irish, the Scots and the Indian revolts and mutinies against the British. And I suppose the American colonials were thought of as difficult and ungrateful by George III.
    They are the new deplorables. Yet they stood standfast against Daesh several years ago when the Iraqi Army ran in panic.

  20. outthere says:

    A significant piece of modern history of Iraq not mentioned: the 1920 Iraqi Revolt.
    This revolt against British rule began as joint sunni and shia.
    And it had some serious success. It began with peaceful demonstrations and protests, which were dismissed by British officials. The British managed to crush the revolt by making a deal with the minority sunnis, which offered them leadership of Iraq and ruling status over majority shia, in return for turning against the revolt. The British under direction of Winston Churchill, bombed shia areas, including the use of “poison fas against uncivilized tribes”. The shia were crushed, the sunni were empowered, and Faysal was installed. This form of minority rule lasted until Bush/Cheney were forced by Sistani to hold fair elections.

  21. b says:

    I find it difficult to talk of “the Kurds”
    There are four Kurdish languages who are not mutually understandable. There are a dozen religions among Kurds though a majority are (Sufi) Sunni. They have been schooled and socialized in four different states. There are tribal conglomerates or clans like the Barzani and Talibani which have their own political parties and are led by patriarchal family mafias. There are members of the anarcho-marxist cult of Özalan while neighboring Salafi Kurds have joined ISIS to then kill the neighbouring Yezidi Kurds. None of these groups has any enlightened or democratic understanding of the world.
    The Kurds never got a state and will never get one because they are so hugely diverse and have little national unity. They will rather fight each other than accept some common leadership.
    Since the 1950s the Zionist have build up the Barzani Kurds as a counter-force to the Arabs. Israel was the only country that supported Barzani’s independence vote gimmick. It is the worst ally the Barzani-Kurds could have chosen as all surrounding countries hate Israel.

  22. Frank says:

    Good precis.

  23. Serge says:

    The organized ethic cleansing of dozens of Assyrian Christian villages in what is now kurdistan by Sunni and yazidi Kurds(what a twist!)didn’t occur in 2000s,it occurred in 1933

  24. The Beaver says:

    @ DJK
    Reading the diaries of Gertrude Bell may make you think otherwise !
    Especially this one:
    We shall, I trust, make it a great centre of Arab civilization and prosperity; they were bent on a Turco-Prussian steam roller which would have flattened out, if it could, all national qualities and characteristics. And now we’ve got to keep the other ideal well before us; that will be my job partly, I hope, and I never lose sight of it.

  25. outthere says:

    “The difference is that George W Bush was being urged towards the Iraq conflict by people in his administration who were neo-cons. They were civilians who were demanding military action. In the case of Trump we have people in the administration who are military but who are the moderates urging restraint. That is very interesting, isn’t it?” Blix reflected.

  26. turcopolier says:

    I don’t have a problem with any of that but I have to write for a more general audience. pl

  27. turcopolier says:

    I should have included that. It strengthen my case for the structural instability of Iraq. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    You left the Confederates out of your list but they too were crushed in the end. In the case of both our wars for independence foreign intervention was crucial. You either had it or you failed. pl

  29. Lemur says:

    One thing that puzzles me is the inconsistent position of the ‘woke’ anti-imperialist left on the Kurdish Question.
    Whereas they are always hopping mad about ‘Israeli neo-colonialism’, in the same breath they will adamantly support mini-metropoles like Baghdad, themselves the creation of Greater Metropoles (London, Paris). So a ‘brown’ imperialist group is backed against a (perceived) ‘white’ imperialist force. Pot kettle black. Sorry Kurds, Assyrians, Druze, et el. The vulgar anti-antisemitism of white leftists (who are all about anti-imperalism providing you do it their way) comes before your right to self-determination.
    The specious argument I’ve heard from the likes of SyrianGirl is that Israel wants weak and divided statelets in order to achieve regional hegemony. But arbitrarily defined post-colonial states like Iraq and Syria are already divided against themselves. It was always the USSR who turned these ‘countries’ into somewhat credible threats to Israel. Absent a powerful ‘big boy’ friend, their incoherent demographic composition rendered them vulnerable to destabilization. One of the reasons Iran wields real power that Israel fears is that its led by a dominant Persian-Shia majority. Were it not for the interventions of external powers with coherent majorities (Iran and Russia), the Syrian Arab Republic would have been wiped off the map. Some resistance. States like Egypt and Jordan remain united but are more or less on board with Israel. Thus, there is no necessary correlation between the preservation of the post-colonial division of the ME and the curbing of Zionist ambitions.
    If the dreaded division of the ME happened according to that map floating around which concentrates each ethno-religious groups into a single state, I would wager the result would be more powerful and independent states who might very well align against Israeli expansion. Good fences make good neighbors after all. Sure there would be a few teething problems (border wars) and a bit of ethnic cleansing, but a structure would emerge from the violence. Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. The other option is eternal breaking of eggs and no omelette.
    The final line of defence is that this scheme has been glossed by various Western think tanks. Apparently, this automatically imbues the idea with an inherent evil. ‘If America wants it must be bad!’ is the simple binary logic, born of reflexive hatred of their own countries. However, there is no conceptual reason why the ME can’t be rearranged in a way that benefits everybody. Had Britain, France, and America done so from the beginning (and stuck the Jewish homeland somewhere less explosive), the West would probably be widely admired in the Arab world today, as friendly liberators from Ottoman oppression and the civilization that gave each group a homeland where they could live by their own lights and realize their collective potential.
    Anyway, I don’t think my position is inconsistent with supporting Assad, because clearly a highly centralized secular governments is preferable to terrorists.

  30. Kooshy says:

    Once again the Barezanies are blaming the Talebanies for treason and withdrawal of forces from Kirkuk.

  31. Kooshy says:

    Very well and precisely said.

  32. Haralambos says:

    For linguists, the distinction between a language and a dialect has often been that a language is a collection of mutually-intelligible dialects. Many “languages” seem to defy this distinction. One or more linguists are credited with the distinction that a language is “a dialect with an army and a navy.” This seems to apply here and in several other “would-be countries.”

  33. Lemur says:

    When you deconstruct the Kurds like that, you sound remarkably like the Jews un-peopling the Palestinians.
    Its possible for an ethnic group to have a number of different expressions. In my country, New Zealand, natives (Maoris) are divided into distinct tribes, many of whom fought one another and aligned with or against the colonizing British. But that does not mean there isn’t a common Maori substrate that provides a basis of unity. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t a spiritual organic bond of “New Zealander” comprised of the top level identification of Anglo-Celts and Maoris.
    You could do this with anyone.
    >There is no uniform Scandinavian identity. They speak different languages and adhere to different cultures.
    >Therefore, it is incoherent for Scandinavians to seek sovereignty.
    Seems the issue here is denying fractal structures of identification.
    Even one expression of Kurdish identity is entitled to pursue statehood. Anthropologists believe the Kurds who went north toward Russia are now an entirely separate ethnic group. Perhaps the Kurds should receive four states each corresponding to a language group. If its expedient they combine, the Kurdish *citizen* will have to be created after the Kurdish state. Their differential experiences reflect the partial erasure of their identity because of their dispersion. Its telling your analysis freezes them at the point of maximum divergence and dilution. *But if Kurdish identity diverged and diluted, it can also reconverge and intensify.* Ethnicity is not some eternal Platonic form.
    Finally, groups of people who have cohered for centuries don’t fade in and out of existence based on whether leftwing Eurocentrists deem them ‘enlightened’ according to ideas less than a few centuries old – ideas that are the product of one particular conception of the world during one particular phase (rapidly fading) of one particular civilization.

  34. mike says:

    Colonel –
    You are right that foreign intervention was critical, and still is for independence movements anywhere. I always wondered why Louis Duportail and Bernardo Galvez never got the same tributes as that Lafayette, Pulaski, Steuben, deGrasse, and Rochambeau. There is a lot more to both Duportail and Galvez than what is in their Wikipedia entry. Galvez held the British in check in the west and the deep south. Duportail not only designed the siege works at Yorktown, he was the first Commandant of the US Corps of Engineers, was with Washington at Valley Forge, was the first to propose a US military academy and much of his texts were included in the first course of instruction. It is no accident that the insignia of the Corps of Engineers is the Castle at Verdun in honor of France’s Corps du Génie. Well worth the read is a good book I just finished on the subject “Brothers at Arms” by Ferreiro: https://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Arms-American-Independence-France/dp/1101910305/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508190626&sr=1-1&keywords=larrie+ferreiro
    Regarding Saladin. There may be Kurds who do not revere Saladin as you say. But I have seen Kurdish websites/twitterfeeds where Kurdish commenters bragged of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and his defeat of the crusaders and threw it in the face of Arabic/Turkish commenters that had called them the dogs of crusaders and Jews.

  35. mike says:

    Hear, hear!

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Jordan and Egypt are onboard with the Greenback.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That there is a substrate with a bsis of unity is not in dispute. What is in dispute, in Palestine or in Kurdish lands, or in Catalonia is if that basic unity is sufficient for statehood. The last 3000 years say “No”.

  38. elaine says:

    The BBC recently showed 1 lone Kurdish soldier in uniform trying his best to play
    traffic cop in the chaotic exodus of thousands of Kurds from the city as pockets
    of gunfire were heard incoming from the background. The reporter had to withdraw
    from the traffic jam in fear.
    The U.S coalition basically created the current Iraqi government & used the Kurds to fight ISIS & now we have no influence? Diplomatically are we just hamstrung? Treated
    like weenies unable to encourage any calm? While in other areas of Iraq & Syria
    the coalition allows ISIS, their families & human shields to escape in convoys.
    What is the end game plan for the Coalition? I’m confused.

  39. FourthAndLong says:

    Thanks. Thanks. Watching Sand Pebbles movie this evening. And book is free for Amazon Prime Kindle, so I’ve downloaded it. Excellent review convinced me.

  40. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    I’d add to your list of novels James Jones’s The Thin Red Line.

  41. outthere says:

    In this discussion of USA policy in Iraq, the elephant in the room is Saudi Arabia.
    In 1945, Roosevelt met with King Saud and promised USA military support, and also promised not to interfere with wahabi fundamentalism – in return for access to oil.
    In 1973, when USA was suffering from the oil embargo, so severely that Nixon was running out of oil to continue to war in Vietnam, Kissinger went to Saudi and begged for more oil. Saudi agreed to provide it secretly so that arab allies would not know. Then in 1974 USA was broke, and Nixon sent William Simon and Kissinger to Saudi Arabia to beg again. USA agreed to buy oil and provide military aid, and in return Saudi agreed to buy Treasuries to finance USA spending. Significantly, USA agreed to keep Saudi purchases secret, and illegally misreported Treasury sales ever since.
    So that is the basis for USA’s blind support for Saudi monarchy,
    no matter what Saudi does, including 911.
    And of course this blind support has to make Iran the fall guy for everything that happens in ME today.
    The 1945 meeting is shown in “Bitter Lake”, film by Adam Curtis, highly recommended, available on youtube.
    The 1974 meeting is described here:

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Turco-Persian stearoller being the Seluk Civilization.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And they were always defeated and their fiefdom rolled up. But not before leaving a large number of dead.
    They are not Diocletians.

  44. Serge says:

    IMO the current political attitude towards the whole thing is the short term perceived defeat of ISIS and a complete pullout, fully leaving Iraq to Iran come what may. Trump is fulfilling one of his promises in this at least. Our underestimation of ISIS is akin to obama’s I’m afraid, and the same thing we saw in 2014 will be repeated, perhaps worse depending on local political climate in this powderkeg

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Their current vision has nothing forvyoung people.

  46. turcopolier says:

    My uncle, John Henry Lang was in the ship’s company of both USS Palos and USS Panay. He liked the movie but said the US was unequivocally on the Side of the KMT. pl

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Pontics were a separate nation than Greeks. They were Hellenes, no doubt, but were not a state or country.

  48. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Two questions:
    1-re:”The specious argument I’ve heard from the likes of SyrianGirl is that Israel wants weak and divided statelets in order to achieve regional hegemony.” “Does “Yinon Plan” ring a bell? Do enlighten us.
    2-re: “However, there is no conceptual reason why the ME can’t be rearranged in a way that benefits everybody. Had Britain, France, and America done so from the beginning (and stuck the Jewish homeland somewhere less explosive), the West would probably be widely admired in the Arab world today, as friendly liberators from Ottoman oppression and the civilization that gave each group a homeland where they could live by their own lights and realize their collective potential.” Please grace us w/ a map-assume you have infinite power, know all parties, and take your best shot. We will then see if “lemur despotism” is better than any of those you despise.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  49. Croesus says:

    I have nothing to contribute to the analysis but thought you might like to hear this Kurdish – Persian music — Hawniyaz Aynur, Queen of Kurdish music, with Master of Persian music Kayhan Kalhor

  50. mike says:

    Apparently not all Arabs are against Kurdish independence. Southern Yemenis in Aden demonstrated Saturday for their own independence. In addition to waving the old flags of the Peoples-Democratic-Republic-of-Yemen, some in the mass demonstration held up Catalan and Kurdish flags.
    The north and the south merged only 27 years ago. As I recall the south decided decided it was a bad deal and tried to secede four years later, which ended up in a civil war. Before the merger weren’t they a client state of the Soviets? So maybe Putin is interested in sticking it to the Saudis, Emiratis, AQAP and Daesh’s Wilayah al-Yaman by helping in Yemen next? Would the Houthis in the north welcome the Russians also?

  51. Pacifica Advocate says:

    I don’t know what Linda thinks, but I think it would have been wiser to never have partnered up with Saudi Arabia in the first place.
    It was their people on those planes. It was their money that financed those people. If the US was going to invade any place, it should have been Saudi Arabia–not Afghanistan, not Iraq.

  52. Phil Cattar says:

    My Godfather/Great Uncle, who would be about 130 years old if he was alive,told me one claim to “fame” was that Salidin had come through the family’s village at one time…..Jezzine,Lebanon.

  53. Phil Cattar says:

    Being difficult and tough/brave are not mutually exclusive.It is certainly anecdotal but years ago there was a Syrian/Kurdish middleweight boxer named Mustafo Hamsho……………..He was incredibly tough and strong.Other world class fighters would comment on his toughness……………….

  54. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Thanks for that, outthere. Big fan of Adam Curtis, here. Will definitely be checking it out.

  55. Tel says:

    ISIS might now get some breathing room to regroup and fight another day… looks like defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory here.
    If the Americans take a step back and leave it hands off between the Iraqis and the Kurds then those two could well be evenly matched and grind each other, with no oil going anywhere. On the other hand, if the Americans take sides and settle this then which way should it be settled? Bashing the Kurds would make the US look not much better than Saddam all over again, but if the Americans support the Kurds then Iraq will be almost guaranteed to join forces with Iran (although maybe that’s inevitable at this stage).
    Ugly situation, best thing would be find a way to get Baghdad back to negotiations and give the Kurds some bones to feel good about. Seems unlikely.

  56. Tel says:

    “Since these two historic actors have mutually exclusive and deeply held goals and desires, that was a very foolish thing for the US to do.”
    Worked for a little while.
    Don’t start telling me about all the brilliant strategic plans that were coming out of Washington before this singular blunder.

  57. paul says:

    “Yet they stood standfast against Daesh several years ago when the Iraqi Army ran in panic.”
    actually when Daesh attacked they took the opportunity to seize undefended iraq government territory

  58. LeaNder says:

    b, SST members, I admittedly did not ever pay attention on Özalan. …
    Yes, I find the cult around him repellent too. But “anarcho”-maxists makes me wonder? …
    while neighboring Salafi Kurds have joined ISIS to then kill the neighbouring Yezidi Kurds.
    Haven’t heard about that. Links, hints? Context? Location?

  59. Anna says:

    Meanwhile, a person who exposed the CIA-Azerbajan connection in supplying ISIS with Ukrainian, Bulgarian and such arms was murdered by car bomb: https://www.rt.com/news/406963-assange-reward-caruana-galizia-death/
    She was the only truly courageous journalist in Malta and one of the most courageous persons in the European Union. For her courage and honesty she was branded a “terrorist” by the EU bureaucrats.

  60. Lemur – I agreed with you instinctively when I saw your comment. With of course the proviso that Kurdish mafia bosses shouldn’t be allowed to walk off with Arab oil fields, but nevertheless it seemed that your way – our way – of looking at the question was the only right way. Now I’m not so sure.
    This is key to how we in the West sees the Kurdish issue – “Even one expression of Kurdish identity is entitled to pursue statehood. ”
    That is the underlying Western assumption – that an ethno-nationalist group or subgroup should be organised as a separate national unit. How that could work in the ME, where it’s a patchwork of groups and sub-groups and those often quite distinct, I can’t imagine, but I would tentatively suggest that our underlying assumption that it ought to work, even that it’s the only way it can work, is erroneous.
    In Western Europe ethno-nationalism is not much to do with DNA or race. You can have within a nation a job lot of different groups, all with their own often fierce local loyalties, but all feeling that there is something above those local loyalties that they as members of their national units have in common. As the comment above yours may indicate, national “armies and navies” are important, primarily for survival, but also because there’s nothing like fighting the other lot to forge a sense of common identity. Just perhaps, we’re seeing that happening in Syria at present – the various tribes and confessions are finding that life is more secure if they hold to wider loyalties than the purely local. But for a certainty in Western Europe ethno-nationalism is in practice not a question of who you are, where you come from, or how long you’ve been there, but whether you feel you belong. If enough believe they belong then you have an ethno-nationalist group and in Western Europe, whether we admit it or not, we assume ethno-nationalist groups are better off as nations. That is how we think. As you put it – “Even one expression of Kurdish identity is entitled to pursue statehood.”
    This “belonging” way of looking at Western European ethno-nationalism is at variance with the usual “DNA test” way of looking at it but I believe it is more realistic and I also believe that it underlies our thinking in real life in the West as a whole.
    The functional test of a working ethno-nationalism in our model is whether it binds the population to the ruling elite; and the ruling elite to the population. Where there is not that two-way bond our sort of ethno-nationalist unit has to rely on repression to stay a unit or it fails.
    We see this in Ireland, where there was never a true ethno-nationalist unity with England although by the end of the nineteenth century custom was beginning to forge what might have become such a unit. But in truth the seeming unity was founded on repression – conquest and then subjection – and remained essentially founded on repression until the end. The Irish national myth was never the English national myth. There was little bond between the ruling elite and most of the population. Therefore it was natural – natural in the way we think – for the unit to fall apart even though in economic terms the Irish were doing quite well out of the association towards the end and would probably have done better in economic terms had they remained in it.
    The fissiparous tendencies in Western Europe at present are I believe to do with the fact that the bonds between the ruling elites and their populations are weak. Increasing numbers of people feel that the ruling elites are out for themselves and not for the nation. That resentment comes to the fore when there is, for many, less money around. Therefore when there’s an alternative national myth to fall back on, an alternative ethno-nationalism on offer, that alternative is seized upon almost by default. That may be just swapping one set of cronies for another, as I think might have been the case in Scotland recently had they voted the other way, but at least they’ll be “our” ruling elite and even if it’s an illusory hope there’s still the hope that the new lot will be in it for us as well as for themselves. Ethno-nationalism is so natural to us now that we always think in those terms.
    I think this is, however, a very European way of looking at ethno-nationalism and the formation of national units. It’s also quite recent in some instances. Even after the defeat of Napoleon, for example, the fate of the people of Saxony was not determined as a result of any Wilsonian consideration of where those people saw themselves as belonging. Ethno-nationalism wasn’t a factor. The property rights of the King of Saxony were the issue and his people were regarded, even spoken of I believe, as so many “head” of people who were included in those property rights like cattle. Long before then the link between ethno-nationalism and the national unit was evolving to become the main link, but it’s only today that that link is regarded by all of us in the West as the proper and if necessary legally enforceable determinant of who should be in what nation.
    I do not believe it is safe to assume that such current Western notions and intuitions can be transferred lock stock and barrel to the ME. I believe that to assume they can be is as dangerous as the assumption made after the Iraq war. It was assumed as a matter of course by many then that once we’d removed the tyrant, the “nation” of Iraq would fall naturally into what we’re used to in Western Europe. The parallel was explicitly drawn with 1945. We were locked into our own way of seeing the world and could conceive of no other.
    So here, our concepts of ethno-nationalism, – and those are the concepts we’re using when we look at the Kurds – our intuitive notion of how the relationship between the people and the ruling elite works, our hard and fast belief that the ethno-nationalist model is the natural model for a nation unit – all this gets in the way of recognising that the ME is a different place and they do things differently there. We are unconsciously parochial in our thinking. My automatic agreement with the seemingly self-evident truth you assert in your comment falters when I realise that although we know very well intuitively how our own society works, we can’t have that good an insight into how other societies do.
    In fact we in the West are now starting to grapple with the problem of how to run, not the ethno-nationalist model we’ve evolved over the centuries, but the “patchwork” model that’s been the norm in the ME for ever. WE are the beginners here. We’re not doing very well. We’re attempting to “integrate” our various minorities by repression or indoctrination, and insisting they should “become like us”. They must join our ethno-nationalist unit, like it or not. That’s pretty crude and will lead to trouble, but we have no other way of thinking. The ME’s been doing “patchwork” for millennia, not just a few decades. We should look at how they approach the job, not unconsciously attempt to impose our intuitions and our way of thinking on them.

  61. Poul says:

    You don’t even have to use Scandinavian as an example. Just use Denmark. The regional language differences have been strong. I simple cannot understand Jutlandic Danish if spoken traditionally. But the differences are rapidly disappearing due to radio & television. Standard Danish (created from the dialects spoken in Copenhagen and Malmø) has become the norm.
    An text example:
    English: I’m on the island in the creek
    standard Danish: Jeg er ude på øen i åen
    Southern Jutlandic: A æ u o æ ø i æ å

  62. JamesT says:

    I am currently reading Secret Affairs – Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam by Mark Curtis, and it is telling the history of the middle east through the lens of how Britain sought to contain secular nationalism by any means necessary. Anyway – Yemen keeps coming up again and again. Seems it has always been a chessboard for outside powers.
    I think the Houthis in the north are at least tacitly allied with R+6 and thus the more natural ally for the Russians.

  63. mike says:

    Croesus –
    Thanks for the musical link.
    Is that loose un-rosined horsehair on the bow of that stringed instrument?

  64. kooshy says:

    Mike you should tell us what you think it happened in Kirkuk yesterday, if i were you wouldn’t put much hope in Aden for being a big help getting Kurdistan it’ independence. Sounds like Barazani and his advisers from Israel, France’ Jean-Paul and our own think tanker in chief Khalilzad did not figure out this one out.

  65. shepherd says:

    Hellas was the Ancient Greek word for Greece. They did not call themselves “Greeks.” They all considered themselves Hellenes, though they were divided into four distinct ethnic groupings. There were large Hellenic populations on the islands and coast of what’s now Turkey and Syria, as well as smaller ones throughout the Mediterranean basin.
    The “Greeks” lived in independent or semi-independent city states that warred with one another on a regular basis. They typically kept their cities at a smaller scale, and one reason they are so spread out is that when a city-state reached a certain size, a select group of citizens would colonize another spot. The resulting city-state was independent with some ties to the parent.
    Greece and Pontus are geographical descriptions in the ancient world, not countries or nationalities. Pontus is the area to south of the Black Sea. I think what you’re referring to is Ionia, or the west coasts and adjacent islands of what’s now Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon.

  66. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    The last name of the kurdish fellow you and b are referring to is “Öcalan”. The following link contains is a reasonably truthful summary of his activities so far:
    If you read the following link you can see why the salafists might not care for Yezidis:
    Ishmael Zechariah

  67. mike says:

    Russia is refusing to shut down its consulate in Erbil. That despite the demands by Baghdad for all diplomatic missions in the KRG to shut down. The US consulate alos stays open. I have not heard about the French, British and Germans shutting theirs down. It appears the Turks are the only ones to knuckle under. Maybe the Iranians have shut down their consulate in Suleimani, but if so I would bet they are keeping open an unofficial diplomatic mission with the PUK.

  68. outthere says:

    Lawrence Davidson writes about Kurdistan, including some history back to Sykes Picot.
    can Iraq be reestablished as a viable state? Putting the question more informally, in 2003 a rather stupid American president — working under the influence of Zionists, witless neoconservatives, and Iraqi nationalists bearing false witness — knocked the Iraqi Humpty Dumpty off its precarious wall. Can it be put back together again? The answer is, well, maybe – but there seems to be only two ways to do this. One is a near-genocidal war waged by regional powers against the Kurds. Alternatively, Iraq might be resurrected if the Kurds are willing to settle for half a loaf in the form of being an autonomous part of a confederated state.
    . . .
    The Kurds are now closer to independent status than at any time since the near-miss days of World War I. Their best strategy is to make the best (if not the most) of that status within a confederated Iraq and end their interaction with Israel. This has to be better than a near-genocidal war in which they would be the victims.
    The Thwarted Dreams of Kurdistan
    October 17, 2017
    Davidson cites Jonathon Cook
    How Kurdish independence is central to Israel’s plans to reshape the region
    2 October 2017

  69. Thomas says:

    From your linked article:
    “Those urging Trump to scrap the deal include Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. He is at odds, however, with most Israeli experts in military intelligence, the Israeli Defence Forces, Mossad, the Foreign Ministry and the Atomic Energy Committee who all say that Iran has not violated a single clause.”
    Looks like someone is heading for a fall.

  70. outthere says:

    Remarkable long interview with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson:
    We will, as we did to Saddam Hussein. I know, I was there, I helped. We will manufacture Iran’s going for a nuclear weapon if we have to. If we feel that it is necessary to manufacture the intelligence, even if they are not going for one, we will do so, and we will go to war with Iran. That’s the purpose of the people like Nikki Hayley and John Bolton and others who now, said to say, have regained access to the Trump administration.
    . . .
    Let’s just look at this for a second. If anyone in terms of terrorism is sponsoring it from one end of the globe to the other, it’s the Saudis. If there’s anyone who was responsible for 9/11, and 3000 dead Americans, that was a state at that time, it’s Saudi Arabia. If there’s anyone who’s deeply responsible as an outside power for the civil war, the conflict as it were, in Syria, it’s Saudi Arabia.
    If there’s anyone responsible for destabilizing the Gulf Cooperation Council, it’s Saudi Arabia. If there’s anyone responsible for waging the most brutal war on the planet right now, with our support I’m sad to say, in Yemen, it’s Saudi Arabia. And yet, the United States can’t seem to break away from Saudi Arabia, but it can find in its heart of hearts, hatred for the Persians. This is inexplicable.
    Unless you understand how deeply lashed up with the Saudis are the Clintons, the Bushs, and almost any other wealthy family in the United States, how deeply lashed up we are with the Saudis because of our dependence for them for such a long time on black gold, oil, or how deeply lashed up we are with the Saudis for their buying of our armaments to the tune of billions and billions of dollars. Otherwise, you have no explanation for this relationship which is totally inimical to the national security future of the United States.
    . . .
    I see all this developing in much the same way I saw the Iraqi WMD situation developing in 2002, and early 2003, and I saw the war that occurred thereafter. That’s what these people want. We have to go all the way back to the philosophy of the neoconservatives at the very beginning, Bill Kristol, and Richard Perle and so forth.
    I saw evidence of this when I was in the Pentagon in 2001 and 2002. They want Syria, they want Iran, they want Iraq, they want the entire South West Asian area free of the kinds of leaders and the kind of regimes that they felt were inimical to the interests of Israel, and ultimately to the interests of the United States. They succeeded in Iraq, however you want to measure that success. Iran seems to own it now.
    They failed in Syria, but they haven’t given up there yet, and they feel, I think that if they do Iran, then the others will collapse of their own weight, especially now that Iran has managed to insinuate itself into both Syria and Iraq so significantly. So, it’s all kind of wrapped up in Iran now. They don’t have to think about Syria and Iraq, because if Iran goes, those two go.
    This is crazy. This is crazy what we’re allowing to happen. Now, we’re allowing it to happen through what can I say? A 10 year old brat, reality TV star, occupying the Oval Office and thinking that through what he’s doing basically for domestic politics, he’s protecting America. While these neocons are running circles around him.
    Whether he told Bolton to get out of the White House is irrelevant. They’re running circles around him, and we’re developing the same kind of scenario leading the war for this country, Iran, that we did for Iraq several years ago.
    lots more here:

  71. turcopolier says:

    I told Wilkerson at the time that he was selling out his country in support of his bromance with Powell. He just waved me off. He continues to exploit his perfidy. pl

  72. mike says:

    LeaNder –
    Ansar al-Islam was a group of Arab vets of the Afghan wars who recruited Iraqi Kurds and Arabs and took over a district next to the Iraqi/Iran border in the Kurdish mountains. They were taken out by a coalition of Kurdish and American Special Forces in 2003. There were approximately six to eight hundred. About 250 to 300 were killed, the remainder were captured or fled. Some to Iran or more probably some fled to Zarqawi, the godfather of Daesh.

  73. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    I’ll wait until the dust settles in Kirkuk before attempting to tell you what the Kurdish media is saying what happened.
    I put no hope in Aden being a help to Kurdistan. Did you really think that is what I was thinking with that comment??? Unbelievable. My communication skills are getting rusty. I only posted that remark because I saw the Catalan and Kurdish flags among the old DPRY Yemeni flags at the Yemeni independence demonstration. I wish the south Yemenis and Catalans and Kurds well and hope they all get some measure of independence. Biafrans too, they are demonstrating now for independence from Nigeria. That was another country whose borders were bungled by the British. Like in Kirkuk, oil played a big part in the reason the northern Nigerians crushed Biafra’s earlier bid for freedom, killing millions in the process back in the 1960s.
    Barzani has no advisers from Israel. You need to separate the legitimate aspirations of the Kurds from the Israeli agitprop that they are deliberately using to get inside the heads of Muslims to stir up hate and discontent and war.

  74. mike says:

    James T. –
    Thanks, I’ll try to get a copy. Was that British collusion with the radical Islamists during what they called the Aden Emergency in the mid 60s?

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you.
    I was writing of those poor souls that the Gather of Turks expelled to Greece; often referred to as Pontic Greeks.

  76. Annem says:

    Curious thing about this period. Those jihadis, Arab and Kurdish alike, in the period leading up to the US invasion. We had the chance to destroy them then, as the Kurds had hoped we would, but we did not. Some argument about “mandate” I believe, was the reason given but there they stayed and many made it out to participate in the anti-American battle for Iraq. Zarqawi may well have been up there himself at that time. The Kurds did add some new recruits but many had been in Afghanistan, as there was a militant Islamist faction among that group. Interestingly, the hard-core Arabs did not feel comfortable or necessarily trust the Kurds and lived and ate separately and then tried to impose their beliefs on the people of the area, even violently.

  77. charly says:

    Germans and Swiss Germans is another example. I have never any problems understanding Germans but Swiss just speak another German i don’t understand.

  78. LeaNder says:

    thanks, Ishmael, of course its Abdullah Öcalan and not (Alpay) Özalan. Stepped into b’s orthographic trap. 😉
    I am aware of Öcalan. And the Turkish/Kurdish struggle. A SST member linked to an expert analysis of a recent Öcalan document by an Austrian connected to the Ministry of Defense, if I recall correctly, a couple of years ago. Kurds here in Germany had translated the original document. But the closer I looked into the larger Kurdish scene the more perplexed I got. Heavy inner struggles too, suspicions, allegations. One side’s nobleman seemed to be the others devil. And I am not referring to the two Iraqi clans here. Well, yes that’s politics.
    But, they no doubt are quite active all over Europe not only in Greece and Germany. No wonder that even the Turkish services occasionally surface on our ground. Add to that a more recent scandal, supposedly recent Turkish refugees, have encountered informers (translators) while applying for asylum. Official statement, yes, one is aware of the problem, a few unreliable contractors have already been fired. Haven’t taken a closer look yet.
    But, oh dear. Historically for Turkey both the Syrian and the Iraqi Kurdish areas functioned as military/?terrorist? retreat over the decades. And now these recent WOT developments.
    Yazidi, ok technically Kurds and ethnically based on religion “another people”.

  79. Phil Cattar says:

    “A select group of citizens would colonize another spot”.That is interesting.Maybe the got the idea from the Phoenicians who did the same thing.The Lebanese city Tripoli(three cities) got it’s name because the Phoenicians wanted a city,trading post,in the north of the country.They got members of elite families from three of their cities to form Tripoli.They also did the same thing to start Carthage and all over the Med.

  80. Divadab says:

    Saladin was a Kurd. And his personal physician was Maimonides, whose Hebrew name was moishe Ben maimon – Rambam. Richard the Lion Heary asked him to be his physician and he refused.
    History is complicated and full of ironies.

  81. Grazhdanochka says:

    It is being reported that Issam Zakhreddin was just killed in Syria..
    Word is – Mine
    There would be no shortage of Land Mines in Theatre to make such incidents all to possible. But it is worth to note this would be second major Commander in as many Months of R+6 Forces in Dair-z-Zaur….
    Would be interested to Note if this was indeed Mine or Improvised Explosive or Remote Bomb..
    General Suheil al-Hassan and his Tigers it seems were issued while ago few examples from Russian Park of Italian IVECO LMV – Of primary benefit against Mines and Road Bombs but also relative high Profile

  82. LG says:

    It was Russian surgeons who operated on Ali Abdallah Saleh last week

  83. LondonBob says:

    The Scots are British. The Jacobites wished to restore the Catholic Stuarts to the throne, indeed even during the English Civil War it was more a case of who would rule the three kingdoms, and how, rather an interest in independence by any of the kingdoms, although perhaps there as an element of resistance to the increasing dominance of the English Kingdom.

  84. mike says:

    Babak Makkinejad –
    Thank you for the response.
    We have had this conversation before. While what you say is is true in the modern period, there are several points in history that contradict it. Some examples are the Kurdish Shaddadid, Marwanid, and Hazaraspid dynasties. And as Divadab points out below Saladin’s Ayyubid dynasty. Then there was the Rojaki Principality of Bitlis which lasted for well over six and a half centuries. Several Kurdish Emirates one of which, the House of Baban, ruled Kirkuk for 150 years. Much longer than the Iran’s Pahlavis, Qajars, Ashfarids, and Timurids lasted.
    And then there was your own Safavid Dynasty. Probably the greatest since the Achmaenids, that rescued Iran from 800 years of Arab and Mongol rule. Founded by Ismael I who was Kurdish on his father’s side.

  85. charly says:

    It is not like all the people of sub-ethnic group a live in territory A and sub-ethnic group live in territory B. It is more divided by class and profession and being different from the next village. So a fisherman in territory A to Z are x, traders y or z, upper-class u, entertainers v, day-labour w and farming villages a mosaic of r,s or t.

  86. JamesT says:

    The parts I’ve read in the book describe the Aden Emergency in the mid 60s as Britain allied with Saudi Arabia against Egyptian-backed rebels who proclaimed the liberation of Dhofar provence in southern Oman. Britain responded by bombing rebel villages and bribing local tribal leaders. In 1967 Britain was forced to withdraw by the Nasser backed National Liberation Front.
    “Increasing British reliance on the Saudis to maintain the pro western status quo, and to deter Nasserite infiltration of Arabia and the wider Middle East, coincided with [KSA’s mission to wahhabise Islam] that would have huge consequences for the eventual advance of global terrorism.”

  87. LeaNder says:

    Mike, admittedly I hesitated once the name Zarqawi surfaced.
    Reminds me of my worst times of bewilderment in the early post 9/11 universe. … you don’t want to follow my associations all the way down to neighbors… where b led me.
    But Scott Peterson sends the appropriate signals, the necessary mental demarcation lines. Considering it was 2003. Reporting from inside the fogs and mirrors. CSM was an anchor occasionally, especially in the sea of easy repetition and consent all around.
    Concerning Musab al-Zarqawi’s, the crowned early Iraqi king of Al Qaeda fame, took quite a while till he got on the US most wanted list, two month later he was dead. Who got the 25 million by the way? Do you know?
    I mean if we talk of neighbors, cooperators and informers? that may have triggered my response to b’s otherwise quite rhythmically written, meaning good to read, contribution to our debate here.

  88. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The mechanism of rule were different in the periods you refer to; often a local ruling house was left intact as long as he paid tribute in cash or in kind; sort of like the feudal system in Europe without any of its rules or advantages.
    But a Kurdish Kingdom, reminiscent of the historical kingdoms created by Georgians or Armenians, have never seen the light of day. Of this, I am certain.
    I also think no country has ever existed but born of war and violence; not even our Western Diocletian friends are exempt from this rule; all of the existing extant states between the Urals to the Atlantic Ocean are products of wars.
    This pernicious leap of logic – from some basic underlying cultural unity to the right to a state – has done more harm than good.
    When victors of World War I destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they made possible the destruction of European Jews.
    When they dismembered the Ottoman Empire, the planted the seed for all the subsequent wars among Arabs – the judgement of history is this: Turks were fit to rules, Arabs were not.
    When the victors of World War II created the State of Israel, they set the stage for all that we see – until US & EU became co-belligerent in the wars to preserve Israel.
    And so on and so forth.
    The latest catastrophe, created by US & EU, was the South Sudan.
    You guys in US or EU, singly or combined, do not have the power to create functioning states out of the thin tissue of “democratic rights” and “rights of nations to self-determination – you cannot – just like everyone else on this planet – cannot predict the future course of events and your state-building projects – where none had existed before – had always – always – been failures.
    And then you are in occupation of other peoples: NATO member Italy still rules over Occupied Tyrol, US still sits on top of stolen Cherokee Nation’s Lands, US & EU are still occupying Bosnia and Kosovo.
    May be the Turks can be persuaded to come back and take over their rule over their former Arab provinces; it will be superior to anything that obtains there now.
    May be the English can be hired to come and rule over large areas of India, Pakistan, Nigeria – Heaven knows that the English will not be doing any worse than the current fiefdoms run by this or that chief-minister in an ostensibly federal but really Asiatic system of rule.
    Incidentally, Iranians cannot be persuaded to take over Afghanistan – they do not want to share their oil money with anyone.

  89. JamesT says:

    (That last quote directly followed Curtis’ description of the British withdrawl from Aden.)

  90. mike says:

    Annem –
    Yes, Zarqawi was hosted by Ansar al-Islam in 2002.
    Meanwhile, Mullah Kekar the Emir of Ansar al-Islam, is in Norway. The Norwegians have locked him up several times but last I heard he was out of jail. The Kurdish PUK want him extradited to the KRG and reportedly once tried to assassinate him in Oslo. The Iraqis also want him extradited.

  91. mike says:

    james –
    Nothing I have said implies that Israel is A-OK. I cannot speak for Lemur.
    I do support US troops, but not all US policies.

  92. LG says:

    a good summary on the events in Kirkuk: What Events in Kirkuk Mean for Iraq

  93. mike says:

    Phil –
    Hamsho got 53 stitches to mend his face after his title match with Marvin Hagler. But he managed to bloody Hagler too. Sports Illustrated said “it looked as though he [Hamsho] would run out of blood before he ran out of heart.”
    Wiki says he is Syriac. But Mustafa is surely not a Syriac or Assyrian name, is it? Perhaps a mixed heritage?

  94. mike says:

    Leander –
    Zarqawi was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US in 2003.
    I don’t know if anyone got the reward. He was finally found by multiple efforts of Jordanian, Iraqi and US intel services, and by a six-week period of watching and waiting for him to appear at a supposed safe house in Baqubah. Some allege he was double-crossed by someone in al-Quaeda.

  95. mike says:

    Babak Makkinejad –
    Thanks again for responding.
    Many of those mechanisms of rule still exist, except that cash is not directly involved. And we no longer call them tributary states, the modern terms are by a different name: client states or satellite states. The new way to get tribute is the system of using globalization, corporatism, and cultural dominance instead of military threats.
    Regarding Cherokee Lands, you and I agree. It was a major felony perpetrated by the Feds and the state of Georgia. Other tribes also. And then when oil was discovered on their treaty land in Oklahoma during the early 20th century they were robbed again.
    Turks and English to re-invent their colonies? No thank you. Erdogan may be salivating to do that, but I somehow doubt that Theresa May or even Boris Johnson would be up for that.
    Afghanistan??? Not sure why you brought that up. Have I accused Iran of such an intent? I don’t think so.

  96. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Accurate, thanks.

  97. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater says to Mike,
    ‘Some measure of independence’? Catalonia already had that. It was called ‘Autonomy.’ That’s not what they want. They want complete independence. Their own navy, for example. They’ll claim the Ebro River for their own. They’ll get financing from Qatar and build the biggest mosque in the world in the old Monumental bull ring. Adios to the ‘Old Blood and Pus.’ Stars in their eyes.
    They must never have seen the films of Joris Ivens. Such as ‘Morir en Espana’. They have learned nothing. Unbelievable.
    Madrid is now in process of making plans for rescinding autonomy in Catalonia if the province declares independence.
    This is only hours from now!
    I think I know enough about Spain to know what is going to happen. It could get out of hand very quickly.
    I think that we will see the Spanish army in Barcelona soon, maybe this week, if Puigdemont doesn’t eat his words. And he’s a Spaniard. He won’t. He’s going to be arrested on sedition charges. A lot of Catalans are going to jail this week. Some are going to die.
    What do I think about all this? It’s what you get from the ancient blood mix of African and Visigothic DNA. Strong, unfettered emotion and cold, steely determination.
    It’s happening.
    It’s about time.

  98. (From the article linked to by LG above) ” Minorities need strong central government, because strong central governments are the only bodies who can afford to decentralize. They are secure enough to do so.”
    That “strong central government” doesn’t look like any strong central government we’re used to in the West. It sounds like autocratic government in which consensus is not primarily achieved through the ballot box but through the central government responding to and mediating local pressures directly.
    Might I ask – could this be termed the ME model? In the ME minorities seem to remain separate for centuries, in contrast to the Western national model in which minorities have been under strong pressure to integrate, both linguistically and culturally, within a generation or so.
    Given that in the ME these minorities that hold tenaciously to their identity are often geographically intertwined, and most are in any case too small to form self-sufficient national units especially when it comes to defence, is this “ME model” therefore the only model possible for the ME? That or perpetual chaos?
    I ask because in modern times, in the the more or less mono-cultural national units that became our model in the West, a rough and ready consensus has until now been achievable through the ballot box. That mechanism is not effective when there is are “patchwork” units such as we see in the ME because instead of consensus all that would be achieved is the tyranny of the largest minority.
    It’s irrelevant here that the Western democratic system no longer seems to serve us well in the West because it has been captured by this or that interest group. Functional or dysfunctional it’s the system we’re used to. It’s the system we think in terms of. Is it not a fundamental error to assume that this system of governance can be expected to work in the entirely different environment of the ME?

  99. LeaNder says:

    Zarqawi was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US in 2003.
    And the designation “Global Terrorist” justified “Operation Iraqi Freedom”?
    Semi-irony: Bringing down Saddam Hussein’s Statue was the appropriate symbolism to heal the American soul. Relieve them of the images of the 24/7 broadcasted symbolism of the attack on the WTC?
    My reference to the reward was ironical. But, yes I had something on the back of my mind in this context.

  100. mike says:

    LeaNder –
    September 2003, six months after the invasion.
    The statue toppling? Perhaps that made Bush & Cheney’s souls healthy. And their neocon buddies. Not the rest of us.

  101. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What is your definition of minority?
    In the Near East, for over 2 millennia, this was understood in a primarily religious sense. And the way to cease to be a minority was to join the dominant religion; e.g. pagan Romans converting to Christianity in order to escape the hardships imposed on them by the Eastern Roman state.
    Under Islam, with its more accepting attitude towards earlier revealatory religions, there has been 4 recognized religious minorities: the Majus, the Sabean, the Jew, and the Christian. Everyone else is a Pagan.
    I think until the Wars of Religion in Europe, the understanding of who was or was not a minority was very similar to the one under Eastern Roman Empire, Sassanian Persian, or Muslim Caliphate; i.e. a religious-based one.
    The Enlightenment Tradition does not recognize any minorities; there is no theoretical basis for the existence of a minority in that Tradition since distinctions of Culture, History, Religion, Language are irrelevant in the Light of Reason. In this, the Enlightenment Tradition incorporates completely the ideal of Islam and Christianity – replacing “Religion” with “Reason”.
    So, you need to tell me what it means to be a minority in the contemporary Western Dispensation.
    Are the Welsh and the Scots a minority? For when the English speak of them, the English are quite clear that they are distinct than the English men.
    Or are Blacks a minority? Solely based on the color of their skin? A Black barrister educated at Eaton and Oxbridge is a minority in UK?
    Or is it a matter of religion? Is a Jew always a minority in England? How about a Roman Catholic Englishman? Or a nominally Hindu news announcer who was born and raised in England? Or the West Indian who speaks with a tough-to-understand brough in Edinburgh?
    And likewise for France, or Germany, or Italy.
    All these countries are supposed to be based on Blood; anyone not belonging to the Blood is a minority and a foreigner.
    In the United States, their primary idea of who is or is not a minority seems to have been tightly tied to the idea of Northern European Protestantism. That is: if one ancestrally belonged to one of the recognized Protestant churches of Northern Europe, then one was mainstream, a member in Good Standing of the Majority.
    So the Irish & Italian Catholics are a minority, so are the African-Americans since they do not belong to the ancestral people of Northern Europe and their kind of Protestantism, all the way now to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and others. I submit to you that is still a religiously-based definition.

  102. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Confederates had the decency of going to war to press their claim to independence. Pro-independence Catalans are going to bitch and moan about the cruel unjust universe.

  103. LeaNder says:

    “Russia is refusing to shut down its consulate in Erbil.”
    your link does not quite prove that.
    What would be your special preference in the Iraqi Kurdish region and beyond, apart from Iraqi Kurdish independence? Kind of from some type of geopolitical extreme long/wide shot perspective? If I may use camera terms here.
    special preference = personal opinion.

  104. Anna says:

    Answer to your Q: “..the US Special Envoy for the US-led coalition Brett McGurk claimed during a meeting with the SDF-linked Raqqa Civil Council that the “Syrian regime will never have a foothold in Raqqa.”
    Syria has been looked upon as a colony of the US/Israel. The international law be damned. http://thesaker.is/syria-war-report-october-19-2017-u-s-blames-assad-for-hindering-its-anti-isis-efforts/

  105. mike says:

    Not likely.

  106. mike says:

    LeaNder –
    Here is the Russian consulate website with phone number. Call them if you need proof: http://www.RusGenCons-Erbil.mid.ru
    My opinion for what needs to be done in Bashur (Iraqi Kurdistan to you) for a start would be:
    For the Iraqi courts to stop issuing arrest warrants for Kurdish politicians because the courts deemed it an insult for Kurds to use free speech to call the PMU and the Iraqi military as invaders. Some Iraqi judges must be taking advice from Erdogan, he uses the same ‘insult’ law to lock up Turkish Kurds who dare to say they are oppressed.
    Also the destruction and looting of houses, businesses and political offices, and forced displacement of civilians, predominantly Kurds, in Tuz Khurmatu. That is per the United Nations. There have also been killings and similar incidents in Khanaqin but perhaps the UN has not yet heard of those. Maybe the Iraqi militias got the idea from the IDF in Palestine.
    Do your own homework LeaNder. Don’t they have something similar to google or bing where you are? I’m sure you can find the links, at least the one from the UN; and from BBC or Reuters or DW.com for the ‘insult’ arrest warrant.

  107. Phil Cattar says:

    Yes,I saw both of his fights with Hagler.I remember he was called the “Syrian Buzzsaw”.I remember the commentators of the first fight saying he had a heart as big as a washtub…………….He was fearless and came to fight..He gave Bobby Czyz ,who became a first tier boxer and a champ,his first defeat.I once met Czyz and watched him train in Tampa.He was a member of Mensa of all things………………….If you want to know the truth of how a boxer really thinks about his opponent ,pay attention to the FIRST thing out of their mouth at the end of fight interview.Bobby Czyz was amazed at Hamsho’s strength and toughness.I remember Czyz saying every punch Hamsho landed hurt big time……………..Hagler was too skilled and athletic for Hamsho…………..The second fight ended early because Hamsho twisted his ankle or knee and could not really fight a Hagler injured…………I thought he was just Syrian but some Middle Eastern friends told me he was a Kurd.I guess in reality we are all mixed………..Hope this is not too much info………….

  108. mike says:

    Thanks Phil –
    Never too much info. I remember Bobby Czyz. He had a bad family life as a child but he rose above it. Had a lot going for him: brains, luck, looks, married a model, and he could fight.

  109. Babak – Yours is a fascinating reply – a different take entirely:- “The Enlightenment Tradition does not recognize any minorities; there is no theoretical basis for the existence of a minority in that Tradition since distinctions of Culture, History, Religion, Language are irrelevant in the Light of Reason. In this, the Enlightenment Tradition incorporates completely the ideal of Islam and Christianity – replacing “Religion” with “Reason”.”
    I believe that that your summary there is key, though I would like to think that Christianity, at least in pre-modern times, did allow for such distinctions. In pre-modern times the boundaries are clear. When we are rendering up to God what is God’s then we are all souls before God without distinction of race or nation. When we are rendering up to Caesar what is Caesar’s there is room for the local. “My kingdom is not of this earth” is a hint that Christians often failed to take – particularly in some Protestant sects, they wanted the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and they wanted it now – but Christ, in setting out his universal vision, was always insistent on not regulating our temporal affairs. It is correct to say that Christ didn’t do politics. The spirit of the law was what counted, and how that was embodied in this or that letter of the law he left to us to find out.
    And perhaps the “Enlightenment Tradition” you excoriate did recognise one minority – the unenlightened. Those were the heretics and, failing conversion, they’ve been wanting to burn them ever since. For what you characterise as “The Enlightenment Tradition” feeds directly into the current Progressive view of society. You are describing the current ideological environment in the West.
    That “Progressive” ideological environment is now about the only one going. But there’s an odd phenomenon here. Although we must all of necessity live in this environment, and although some can conceive of no other, it’s not how most people operate. We may know no other words or terms than those the Progressives have instructed us in, but the most of us live by other beliefs and intuitions.
    When you say “.. you need to tell me what it means to be a minority in the contemporary Western Dispensation” you are requiring in effect a Western definition of identity; and I suppose of how that works in practice in the UK. I’ll have a go, at least for the UK, but I’m very much feeling my way. Feeling my way because how it actually is, or how most sense it is, is different from the prog template and it’s the prog template of the UK that we’re used to seeing set out.
    I think the intuited definition of identity that works in the West, right up to national identity, is this. That the members of the identity group feel that they are distinct; and that that distinctness is very much more important for them than what they have in common with other groups.
    The members of the group use the same code, the same shorthand, and therefore understand each other without the need for cumbersome and often misleading explanation. They can “read” each other, catch the nuances and qualifications, and therefore interact easily.
    “The men of my own stock,
    They may do ill or well,
    But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
    They are used to the lies I tell;
    And we do not need interpreters
    When we go to buy or sell.”
    Only in those circumstances can the members of the group do politics with each other. If they can’t understand each other, after all, how can they co-operate? Perhaps even more important, how can they disagree and yet resolve or paper over their differences? It’s because they must do that in a Western democracy that political units must be coterminous with the identity group.
    That poem is now sometimes used as an anthem of the White Supremacists but that’s not right. It’s a poet telling us what it means to have an identity, not a poet telling us one identity is superior to that of another. Elsewhere, because he is a faithful mirror to the society around him, and because the political and administrative classes that he usually wished to identify with were even more imperial-minded than now, Kipling does race superiority often enough; but here he’s just accurately telling us how it is to belong.
    Class, ethnic origin, skin colour, and religion may serve as crude subordinate identity markers but no more. The progs would like to act gender identity to that list but that’s not right either. Those of my friends who happen to be homosexual, for instance, use the same idioms as me, share the same cultural references and of course have the same needs – a roof over their heads and their country reasonably well run and properly defended. What they do in their bedrooms is none of my business. The politicians would like to make it all our business and if they succeed then there’s another crude subordinate identity marker manufactured. Divide et impera is, after all a useful political tool. I think that may work with the young. Most of them, in this age of prog conformity, don’t get to see real politics so the thrill of confrontational identity politics – Gay Pride marches and so on, particularly if there are a few skinheads around to have a scrap with – serves as a substitute. I don’t think, however, that all that cuts much ice with older people or with what’s left of the working class.
    But subordinate identity markers in England are generally fluid. The Chinese hospital consultant, using middle class idioms and able to sense shared inhibitions and frames of reference, is as English as the rest. The Chinese cockle pickers not so much, poor devils.
    National identities within the UK itself? I no longer understand those national identities as they are now viewed by the Scots and the Welsh. The spectacle of a heap of progs in Scotland and Wales going in for straight race-based ethno-nationalism is one I can’t get my head round. All right if it works, I suppose. The more old fashioned view is that the Scots and the Welsh have their distinct and separate national identities as their primary identity but a separate supra-identity, like the rest of us, as British. Used to sort of work, that notion, for the Scots and the Welsh. It still works for the regions. In my experience regional and local loyalties can still be fiercely held – I’m still not quite on the same wavelength as the white flight immigrants from London I see so many of these days, for example – but those regional and local loyalties are still subordinate to our view of ourselves as “English” and further subordinate, though perhaps uneasily or unrealistically these days, to our view of ourselves as “British”. NI we won’t talk about. The main thing there at present is to stop them shooting each other.
    Culturally of course, particularly in the sense of what is sometimes termed high culture, we’re European through and through, but in my possibly biased view it’s premature to hope that that shared cultural identity is sufficient to serve as the basis of a yet wider political unit than the political unit that is the UK at present.
    That’s us. Or it was us and, importantly in this context, is still how most think of ourselves. A fluid jumble that has somehow worked over the centuries as a reasonably if not wildly successful national unit. “Belonging”, therefore, in the sense of Kipling’s definition, in the sense of a shared understanding of each other, stretches, however insecurely, to cover the entire national unit we operate as the UK. As the American “belonging” does, if maybe increasingly insecurely, in the States. As their “belongings” do, though again insecurely, in the national units of Western Europe. Does that bear any resemblance to the ME, where a Kurd can rub shoulders with an Assyrian or a Sunni Arab and know, barring ethnic cleansing, that that divide at close quarters is how it’s going to be for his children? And that his local and very separate “belonging” over-rides his wider sense of nationhood? And what about the dramatic city-countryside divide in the ME, far greater than here or, I believe, in the States, for all the current emphasis there on the split between the coastal strips and flyover country?
    Can we expect the same system of government, and the same intuitively held concepts of government, to work in both environments? Your account tells us why it is different there. But how should government should work in those different circumstances? Am I correct in thinking that what we would regard as an autocratic central government, finding consensus directly with the various identity groups in the territory under its control, is the better model for the ME?

  110. mike says:

    James –
    Sounds like the kiss of death. The best way for you and I to communicate is to not respond to each other at all. I am implementing that policy on my end ex tempore.

  111. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am somewhat perplexed that you bring up the Cult of Progress – I thought it died in World War I and was eventually replaced by the Cult of Shoah after World War II among the Western Diocletian states.
    But I think the Cult of Progress is quite alive and well all over the non-Diocletian World – in Brazil, Russia, Iran, China, India. By itself it is not harmful, there is a very large scope indeed for improving things all over this planet – both in terms of material conditions of day-to-day living as well as in the political organization of these states and countries. This Cult has a hold on the sentiments of Man – and rightly so, I should think.
    What you describe in UK, I think, rather is a degeneration of Liberalism and its reduction to the old common usage of the term “liberal” – a person who lavishes his money here and there.
    The legal and political recognition of these minorities, enables the unscrupulous political leaders to lay an un-Just claim to state resources; un-Just in that neither their numbers nor their past history can reasonably be used as a justification – in a court of Law, if you will.
    The old English adage was: “For God and Queen” – which went to the heart of the theoretical basis of the United Kingdom: State of English Anglicans united in the person of the English Monarch.”
    To the extent that both the English Church and the Monarchy are weakened on the plane of ideas, the basis of existence of the United Kingdom erodes. I think this is another source of the problematic you face in UK – at the conceptual level.
    If I am correct in my surmises, then it follows that people who are not Anglicans will always be a minority in the United Kingdom, just like Sunni Muslims will always be a minority in Iran – the country of the Shia for the Shia and by the Shia.
    I think, on the other hand, the militantly secular French Republic does not quite have the same issues as UK, the Gauls would be more-or-less accepting of non-Catholics if they stick to the principles of secular public life of France and keep their religion under wraps and display allegiance to the contemporary French Culture – largely one of the Enlightenment.
    It is not my place to offer any solutions to UK or France or indeed any European country but I would caution against recognizing, in practice or in theory, any minorities – that only entrenches these divisions to no discernible public good purpose; just look at India and her subsidization of Shceduled Casts or the United States and her minority -infested politics.
    The application of No Minority Principle, in UK for example, would mean that everyone is British and subject to the same Laws and Regulations – in a non-discriminatory fashion.
    I think, over the long term – hundreds of years – intermarriage would or could resolve some or all of these issues – if permitted to operate. But minorities are often hostile to exogamy – I know it from personal experience. Among Kurds, for example, they would not let their daughters marry a non-Kurd – be it an Arab, a Christian, a Persian, a Turk etc.
    But even that prospect dims as so much of social life in the West is around consumption of alcohol.

  112. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The historical experience of people of the Middle East as well as Russia has been very different. For example, Harrowing and the Thirty-Year War are the only two instances of utter rapine and destruction that I can think of among the Western states while people of the Russian steppe as well as Central Asia and the Near East have gone through such experiences multiple times. I suspect that such historical experiences, like the proverbial death sentence, concentrates the mind very sharply on the centrality of Order to human survival.
    This is what informs, for example, the minds of the Doctors of Religion in Najaf and Qum – this fear that any whiff of permissiveness or Liberty and before they know it they will be witnessing the dissolution of the moral order that keeps the Human Beast in check and the return of Chaos.
    They are not completely wrong but I think their point of view is not sympathetically received by people who have lived with various forms of Liberty for millennia. Such people think that any body can live in Freedom – they are clueless, of course, but their political power on this planet makes them very dangerous persons indeed.
    I personally believe that unless and until Muslim Thinkers perform their own homework and burn the midnight oil and develop idea and ideals for the practice of Liberty within Islam we will never, ever see the emergence of a “Liberal Order” among the Muslim polities. Unfortunately, the concept and notion of “Liberty” is also intimately related to the ideas of “Personal Protection under Law” – you have to change so much or graft so much to the existing body of thought in Islam that it looks to me like the work of centuries.
    To be concrete, I will illustrate my point by something that I know is near and dear to the heart of all Diocletian – the Status of Women in Islam – (they like the Muslim oppressed Muslim women, but they are ready to bomb their men at the drop of a hat; go figure).
    Viz: among the punishments stipulated in Iranian Law against women who do not wear Hijab – mind you: the Law does not define what proper Hijab could be – is 42 lashes. It used to be 72 lashes but over the years it was reduced to 42.
    So, what the Law is saying is that an Iranian woman, for the privilege of being a Muslim, is subject to lashing if she exercises personal liberty in a manner that others do not deem sufficiently Islamic. And many many Iranian Muslims would agree with this position. In my opinion, for hundreds of Millions of Muslims, such types of laws would be the very essence of Islam as well as Islamic Rule.
    (In Turkey, the religious will tell you, not in so many words, that it is Hijab or Rape.)
    And if personal liberty at the level of how one dresses oneself is not an acceptable principle, then it is hopeless to think that the practice of Freedom and Liberty could be extended to other areas of life without a conceptual struggle to entrench it in Islam?
    I am going here by analogy with what Ayatollah Khomeini accomplished – he amalgamated the principle of Islam and those of republicanism and created a hybrid that is the longest living constitutional order among Muslim states – in spite of all that stupid Arab leaders and mis-guided Western leaders have thrown at her over the last 40 years.
    That is what would be needed, a man with his stature to now amalgamate the ideas of Liberty with those of Islam and defend that hybrid against those Muslims who wish to be living in tents.
    Specifically about the Kurds – one has to ask why do the rank-and-file put up with a man like Barzani? Or with Ocalan? What has the leadership of these men brought to Kurds but death and misery? Even the Catalan leaders have not been as venal as them.
    You have to ask the supporters of PKK: “Do you honestly believe that you can setup an autonomous Kurdish Socialist Region centered around Diyarbakr? Do you seriously believe that you can sustain your livelihoods with the dismal productivity of that region? Will you not starve to death?”
    So many Kurds, across 4 countries, have been listening for decades to the Songs of Sirens, wrecking themselves and others on the rocks – until every valley has an independent king – just like the world of Iliad.

  113. Babak – thank you for those illuminating replies.
    In my comment I was using the term “progressivism” exclusively as you define it in your third paragraph above: – ” A degeneration of Liberalism”.
    The Anglican Settlement is, as you imply, shot. One reason out of many for that is the difficulty of keeping any Church alive in a nation of atheists. I don’t see the UK as done for though. The chattering classes and the media are a lost cause and the politicians, as you know to your sorrow, a vicious mess, but they’re not the whole of it.
    You are, I think, arguing for, or at least acceptant of, a modified autocracy in the form of an accountable theocracy, if my reading of your Constitution is correct. I like this bit:-
    Article 49: The government has the responsibility of confiscating all wealth accumulated through … misuse of government contracts and transactions.
    We’ve got rules a little like that too. I hope your government has more success applying them than mine does.

  114. Babak Makkinejad says:

    News from Istanbul:
    Where freedom to dress oneself does not exist for women.

  115. Babak Makkinejad says:

    We are all lost in determining how much of the Enlightenment Tradition and how much of this or that Religious Tradition to cook with.

  116. Lord Curzon says:

    I just laughed so hard a little wee came out.

  117. Spot on, Babak, as ever. A fitting conclusion.

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