Friday, September 29, 2017 at 8:21 AM

Iraqi Kurdistan Declares Independence

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Iraqi Kurds demonstrated on Monday that they are as determined to be independent as black slaves were to be free. But, ominously, Iraqi leaders are demonstrating that they are as determined to keep Iraqi Kurds in Iraq as Confederate leaders were to keep black slaves on the plantation.

The Iraqi government escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region on Wednesday, threatening to send troops and seize oil fields there and taking steps to shut down international flights to and from the region.

The moves came in retaliation for a referendum on Monday in which the region, Iraqi Kurdistan, voted decisively to seek independence from Iraq. Kurdish officials announced Wednesday that nearly 93 percent of voters approved the referendum, which aims to create an independent state for the Kurds, an ethnic minority in Iraq.

(New York Times, September 27, 2017)

Only God knows how this standoff will end. But I fear my allusions to the American Civil War are more relevant than anyone in Iraq would like to contemplate.

Not to mention that Turkey and Iran have joined Baghdad in threatening military action if necessary to squeeze all notions of independence out of Iraqi Kurdistan. They are hoping to avoid war by imposing the kind of blockade and sanctions Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are imposing on Qatar. (So much for the Israel-Palestinian conflict defining perennial tensions in the Middle East.)

Reports are that Turkey and Iran fear Kurdish minorities in their respective countries feeling emboldened to do there what Kurds are doing in Iraq. Never mind that a Kurdish state could do for Kurds in the diaspora what Israel did for Jews.

Turkey has the region’s largest Kurdish population. Its authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, clearly fears their restiveness. But this is why he should be encouraging their repatriation to Kurdistan, no?

Meanwhile, Iraq has been ravaged by war for 24 of the past 37 years. The mercy rule should compel even its imperial neighbors to eschew any notion of war.

In any event, these simmering tensions make the partition proposal some of us made over a decade ago seem quaint and prescient in equal measure.

I reiterated my take two years ago – in “Time to Partition Iraq? No Sh#+,” March 31, 2015 – after some of America’s top political and military pundits began jumping on the bandwagon.


Almost a decade ago, some of us declared partition the inevitable consequence of the US invasion of Iraq. It was self-evident that Sunnis (who compose twenty percent of the population) and Kurds (who compose seventeen percent) would never consent to be governed by a central government dominated by Shiites (who compose sixty percent). This is why we urged the United States to ‘give up the game’ of nation building among them way back then.

I fear the only hope now is to partition the country into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni zones and leave them to defend their own borders and barter (or fight) for a share Iraq’s oil wealth.

So, here’s to the triumph of opportunistic politics over failed military strategies.

(“At Last, Rumsfeld Becomes a Casualty of the Iraq War,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2006)


Related commentaries:
blockading Qatar
Time to partition Iraq
Casualty of war

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