No Compromise, No Way…

"The moment of reckoning has arrived in post-Ba’athist Iraq and none of the major players shows a trace of the will to compromise that would be necessary to construct a genuine nation-state, in which diverse social groups have an overriding commitment to live together.

Even if civil war is averted in the short term and a government is formed, that government will not be a genuine national-unity administration, but an arena of conflict between contending power groups."  M. Weinstein


Yup. Deja Vu all over again.  "Compromise,"  "Nation State," all of those things that we have been discussing here are highlighted by Weinstein.  Yes.  We are entering a stage at which everyone in the world except the president will know that we will be unable to accomplish his goal of making Iraq into West Texas.  Does that mean that our presence there will end soon.  No, It does not mean that.  There will be a long and messy step by step process of disengagement with Iran watching us for a chance to do some hurtful thing every step of the way.  Lang


"The central interests of the Kurds are to maintain their effective independence and to gain control of Kirkuk and its surrounding region, which has large energy reserves and had been split off from the Kurdish provinces under Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime. The Kurds complain that the transitional government, in which the Shi’ites had the preponderant influence, did not facilitate the resettlement of Kurds who had been displaced from Kirkuk under Ba’athist rule, and that it failed to put into effect provisions of the Iraqi constitution and its subsidiary Law of Administration that require a census in and a referendum on the status of Kirkuk.

Already in late January the governor of Kirkuk, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa, had threatened to suspend oil exports to the rest of Iraq if the central government did not allocate funds for taking the census and holding the referendum. "  Weinstein


The Kurds want Kirkuk.  The Talabani Kurds, some of whom are Shia live in eastern Kurdistan near the Iranian border.  Talabani, although a Sunni, has always been on friendly terms with whatever Iranian government was in power.  Jalal Talabani is familiar with thr rule that "you should go home with him who brought you to the dance."  The Barzanis in the west do not have that history and I continue to maintain that a deal is in the works between Ankara and Barzani over what we now like to call an "end state."  Lang

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17 Responses to No Compromise, No Way…

  1. canuck says:

    Dare I to say that Canadians might be helpful?
    Their model of federation is to share resources in the form of transfer payments. Ownership is decentralized, but federally there is a sharing agreement of revenues. The revenues from the oil absolutely must be shared by the three interests groups. Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis must come to an agreement that doesn’t favour one or the other. A per capita share of the income might work? In order to accommodate that, an iron-clad accounting system is needed. Since Chalabai has control of the Ministry of Oil, he would have to replaced, because he has a long history of corruption.
    If economic agreement is reached, the rest possibly could fall into place. It would be a place to start.
    There is dissension in Canada as to whether that actually works! There is currently a power struggle to weaken the central government by the newly elected ‘minority’ Conservative government.

  2. Eric says:

    I could ask whether the Corleones are with the Barzanis or the Talabanis, but I won’t.

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The Mafia culture of Sicily and southern Italy seems to me to be clearly related to the occupation of Sicily by the Moors for several centuries. pl

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Your model is predicated on good will, eh? pl

  5. jonst says:

    Nothing but questions. Sorry. If you have the time and the inclination;
    1. Is the Turk military an active player in any dealings? Or are they keeping their distance waiting to pounce if they don’t like what they see in any final deal? As in “pounce” on the civilian Turk govt?
    2. Would the Americans have an active military role…never mind how big or how small, in Western Kurdistan?
    Speaking of Sicily…anyone ever read this book about the place? Strange but I thought really good book. Called Midnight in Sicily.

  6. john says:

    Kurdish national aspirations have been marginalized for a long time, and they are close to realizing de facto independence. Further, I think our foreign policy officials would happily recognize the Kurds if and when the rest of Iraq implodes. Our presence in ‘Kurdistan’ represents a confluence of interests. The US salvages something out of the Iraq enterprise because the US, through supporting the Kurds, can help negotiate oil transit fees for the Turks (helps their economy), and serves as a reminder to the new Iraq(s) and Iran that Uncle Sam is still in the neighborhood.
    I may be a romantic but I have been rooting for the Kurds since Operation Provide Comfort in 1991. I just can’t imagine any Kurdish political leader foregoing this opportunity.
    As an aside, the issue of dividing up the state revenues in Iraq brings up a thought. Who is going to get caught holding the bag for the Iraqi national debt? The Shiis? This may prove exciting a few years down the road for Russia, France, Germany, and the US.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Do we hold any of their debt? If so, where? In the private sector?
    I have romantic attachments also. None of them are to the Kurds. What would you estimate would be the cost in money of a permanent US garrison/air base in Kurdistan? What sized force are you talking about? pl

  8. Seymour says:

    I think it’s time for you to resurect your previous posting about the concept of “compromise” in the Arabic language.

  9. John Howley says:

    The relative absence of wishful thinking in the analyses of Weinstein and his colleagues at has always impressed me.
    It is often implied (not by Weinstein!) that the “three-state” solution is some sort of default or easy way out. It’s not. Look at the map. Kirkuk, with its much oil and many Arabs, is coveted by Kurds but currently lies SOUTH of the borderline of Kurdish provinces.
    Kurds won’t leave without Kirkuk. Arabs won’t let them leave with Kirkuk.
    Even under federation, the provincial boundary is a difficulty, always put off for the sake of short-term harmony.
    Another difficulty would be unscrambling Baghdad where 30-40 percent of total pop live. Who gets Baghdad?
    Surely there’s a discussion of this in the post-war planning studies?

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Surely there’s a discussion of this in the post-war planning studies?”
    Come now!!
    Baghdad will be left to “the strongest.” pl

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:


  12. wtofd says:

    Eric, “Chalabi’s a pimp. He never could’ve out-fought Talibani. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzani all along.
    PL, do you see cooperation b/w Ankara and Teheran in dividing the spoils?

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    2-Who knows – a policy decision, not necessarily based on reality. pl

  14. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Don’t think so. That is a real boundary there between two major groups. pl

  15. john says:

    You asked: “Do we hold any of their debt? If so, where? In the private sector?
    I have romantic attachments also. None of them are to the Kurds. What would you estimate would be the cost in money of a permanent US garrison/air base in Kurdistan? What sized force are you talking about?” pl
    Wow, that was fast. I must have struck a nerve. Yes, the venerable firm of JP Morgan is holding dollar-denominated notes for 20 cents on the dollar which mature in 2028. The USG forgave about $4 billion by January 2006.
    As for your second question about the cost and composition of a force in Kurdistan, I have no idea what it might cost other than to say it is already captured in the $5.6 billion per week currently being spent in Iraq. The Air Force is running the Kirkuk AB, but I have no personal knowledge of its condition or suitability for significant (BDE) ground forces. The size of the force is a good question as is whether it is permanent or not. My personal feeling is Iraq has not bottomed out yet, and the Kurds are going to be sorely tempted or forced into going their own way. Your commentaries have explored many of the possible scenarios.
    Playing worse case: Iraq implodes, all three groups go for the jugular, and Turkey decides to cut off overflight/passage privileges to US forces. What happens then?
    Your comment about Barzani and the Turks brought the Mehabad Republic to mind. The Barzanis are wheelers and dealers.

  16. John Howley says:

    A timely piece in Time…The Race to Tap The Next Gusher:
    Kurdistan is rich in oil resources, and the Kurds are READY TO DEAL. But U.S. firms have been aced out by a small Norwegian outfit
    By VIVIENNE WALT / TAWKE,9171,1161240,00.html

  17. Paul says:

    Maybe it is time to recognize that Iraq will do just what the other Arab governments predictated – break up into three distinct parts, and if these are independent or consumed by a neighbor, then so be it. At least then, we would have a clearer idea of with what we deal.
    I am not advocating that US forces cut and run, but we are continuing to try and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Let’s face it, Iraq as we know it today is a construct of the west dating back to the 1920’s.
    The problem is that we have 130K+ US troops in the midst.

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