It is September and the battle for Mosul and against ISIS is slowly winding down…but a new wrinkle is about to pop up that could start Iraq down a whole new path of conflict.
September 25, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil will hold a binding referendum on whether or not to secede from Iraq. It will almost certainly pass. More than a decade ago, the Kurds held a non-binding referendum that passed with 99.8 percent of the vote.
No one knows what’s going to happen. Iraq is the kind of place where just about anything can happen and eventually does.
Kurdish secession could go as smoothly as a Scottish secession from the United Kingdom (were that to actually happen) or a Quebecois secession from Canada, were that to actually happen. It could unfold like Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, where some countries recognize it and others don’t while the Serbs are left to stew in their own juices more or less peaceably.
If the Kurd vote to cede from Iraq they will be tearing the heart out of the nation….and the rest of Iraq will not go quietly into this good night.
Experts often question the degree to which the Kurds of Iraq and their various peshmerga groups are united politically. The Kurdistan Region is split between the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). These parties fought a civil war against one another in the mid-1990s and have since maintained separate military and security forces. Despite recent moves toward integration, separate KDP- and PUK-aligned forces continue to predominate the peshmerga. These political armies add another layer of complexity to the already Byzantine mix of territorial struggles, hydrocarbon disputes, and militia politics playing out in the Kurdistan region. Complicating things further, the KDP and PUK have since fractionalized, most dramatically with the emergence of the Gorran (change) movement in 2009, which claims to disavow the entrenched and corrupt politics of the two traditional parties.
New conflict….new problem in the Middle East…..and the US will have to be ass deep in this conflict as well….after all they have been our allies for decades.