“The North” by The Virginian

With Maliki focused on Anbar and protecting his Shia flank in the run up to elections, and given the likelihood of a continued significant role of the Kurds in shaping national politics in the election's aftermath, it would seem that Erbil is keen to press its tactical advantage at least from an external optics / atmospherics perspective.  Much may be riding on whether Maliki is able to come through his 3rd election with the premiership intact, or whether the Shia decide on the need for new leadership.  In the latter scenario if Shahristani goes there may be further opportunity for Erbil to press ahead and further shape a federal system that would eventually – in their strategic view – be a platform for future independence.  If Maliki stays and is successful at further fragmenting the Sunni communities into irrelevancy (or the scenario of ongoing low level insurgency that doesn't threaten him politically) while fending off competing Shia visions for the state and Shia priorities, the potential for him to return to the issue of the Kurds with a vengeance will loom large. 

Then of course there are the internal Kurdish dynamics, with the trajectory of Goran and the increasing concern over growing Kurdish Islamist groups factoring into the KDP's calculations.  Not to mention the fate of Erdogan and how Ankara chooses to proceed.  It wants Kurdish volumes, but not an independent Kurdish state.  A Kurdish wilayet might be workable, but assuming the Kurds press ahead and put real volumes through to Ceyhan and construct the gas line then Erbil may feel it has leverage over an energy hungry Turkey to push things forward – timelines here are a bit fuzzy.  If Baghdad's control over Arab Iraq deteriorates significantly another indicator to suggest that Erbil will make its move.  But if it over reaches and tries to claim disputed territories such as Kirkuk it will draw Arab anger and see Kurdish interests come under direct threat.  The Virginian

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8 Responses to “The North” by The Virginian

  1. How do Kurdish and Iranian interests align or not?
    Kurdish and Turkish interests align or not?
    How do Russians and Chinese interests in Kurds align or not?
    US and Kurds?

  2. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There will never be a Kurdish state not because of machinations of Turkey, or Iran or anyone else but because Kurds are not capable of doing so.
    While Armenia has had a state/kingdom for centuries – under tutelage of Rome or Russia or Iran at various times – nothing analogous has existed for Kurds.
    There is no reason to think it would be otherwise now.

  3. Joe100 says:

    “A Kurdish wilayet”???

  4. The Virginian says:

    Check your Ottoman history for the reference!

  5. The Virginian says:

    A very brief set of points that do not do your query justice…
    Iran has long ties with the now splintering PUK of Jalal Talabani as well as the KDP / Barzani. Tehran is concerned that any Kurdish move towards independence will undermine efforts to ensure Shia dominance of the new Iraq.
    Ankara is split – the Turks need energy, and the Kurds have both crude and gas. But the Turks do not want to see an independent Kurdistan given its own issues internally with the Kurdish minority. And of course the tie up of Kurdish wealth (ie KDP / Barzani) and those around Erdogan adds an extra bit of complexity.
    For the Russians and Chines Kurdistan is another resource opportunity, though currently of lesser importance than southern Iraq. The Chines are in I believe 7 of the main contracts in the south, and thus are the leaders from a country perspective. Sinopec is the only Chines IOC in the north through their acquisition of Addax Petroleum (I believe). The Russians are in West Qurna 2 with Lukoil, and in the KRG with Gazprom; Gazprom is also in the Badra field in Arab Iraq. Chinese service companies are active in both. And Russia has re-energized a series of military supply contracts with Baghdad apparently despite previous corruption revelations. Many of the KDP old school were exiled in Russia (USSR), to include nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani and father of KDP President Massoud Barzani.
    The US, though supportive of the Kurds since 2003, is concerned that Kurdish actions will lead to the breakup of Iraq. Unlike Baghdad, Kurdish leaders are playing a bit smarter in Washington and have built up a small yet aggressive lobbying effort and links to several US politicians.

  6. Alba Etie says:

    Little bit off topic – but will Erdogan be reelected ? If so will Erdogan still support the Syrian jihadis , and could that not also impact a Kurdistan state comimg to be in the northern Iraq . It really looks like Erdogan is trying to decouple Turkey from the West. Secretary of Defense Hagel is in Turkey this week discussing ‘why , how come ” Ankara recently bought a Chinese ABM system not compatible with NATO stuff ..

  7. dan bradburd says:

    What about Saladin, just for starters?

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