Kurds–What’s New?

ISIS is fighting for its very existence in Iraq…..and while all that was happening the Kurds decided to push the buttons of Baghdad and vote for independence.

After the vote Iraqi government went batcrap crazy!  The Kurds overplayed the hand just a bit….

The Iraqi Kurds have just announced that they’re freezing the results of their independence referendum, which is bureaucratese for saying that they don’t intend to act on it. Which, in turn, is another way of offering a ceasefire to the government troops that have displaced them from Kirkuk and environs. The Kurds gambled and lost. It seems they’d hoped that their western allies would come to their aid, but none did. This, despite loud protestations by sympathetic commentators in the West that the Kurds’ loss was a victory for Iranian hegemony over Iraq—in particular, a victory for Iran’s IRGC commander in the region, Qasim Suleimani. And even though the State Department denied any Iranian participation, it’s unlikely that without Tehran’s concrete intervention the Iraqis had the capability to overcome the Peshmerga so swiftly. As an example, this report entitled “How Iran helped Baghdad seize back Kirkuk” that ran in the Middle Eastern news website Al-Monitor portrays Tehran as the main driver of Baghdad’s success, along with other factors such as Kurds’ disunity and their shortages of ammunition. Others suggested that the Iraqi army (illegally) used their US-supplied Abrams tanks in the demarche which, if true, would have compelled the US to punish Baghdad in some way, perhaps even to defend the Kurds actively. Washington chose to look the other way.

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/melik-kaylan/overplaying-their-hand-kurds%E2%80%99-referendum-debacle

The Kurds are now playing with a level head…..sort of…..

America’s Ambassador to Iraq is attempting to restart negotiations between Iraq’s Kurds and the Iraqi Government. The U.S. is hoping the resignation of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani on November 1, 2017 will incentivize the Iraqi Government to accept a compromise with Iraq’s Kurds. Masoud Barzani was the driving force behind the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25th, which provoked the ongoing retaliation by the Iraqi Government and Iran. The US state department is attempting to unite Iraq’s Kurds behind the region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy Qubad Talabani in order to resolve the dispute with Baghdad ahead of the 2018 elections. U.S ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman met with them in Arbil on November 2nd. He relayed the US position that the long term stability of Iraqi Kurdistan depends on a unified and federal Iraq, and that the two sides must find a “peaceful resolution of disputes under the Iraqi constitution.”

http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2017/11/further-military-escalation-likely-in.html

In the 1990’s the US sold out the Kurds and looks like we are doing it again……

I stood at a border crossing as thousands of Yazidis and other refugees fled ISIS attacks on Mosul and nearby cities. Tens of thousands of refugees flooded into the Kurdish Region of Iraq as Kurdish relief workers greeted them with water and food.

It was August 2014, and I was there on assignment as a freelance correspondent. The Obama administration had started bombing northern Iraq just a few days earlier. The explanation given at the time, now long forgotten, was the US would bomb for a limited time to protect the Kurdish capital of Erbil and stop the attacks on Yazidis.

http://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2017/11/06/us-sells-kurds/

Kurds will conform to the law of the land and not secede….for now……

Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September, defying the central government in Baghdad – which had ruled the ballot illegal – as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran which have their own Kurdish minorities.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday it would respect the November 6 ruling by the Supreme Federal Court, which declared that no Iraqi province could secede.

“We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between (Kurdish authorities in) Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes,” the KRG said in a statement.

http://www.france24.com/en/20171114-iraq-kurdistan-respect-court-decision-banning-secession-baghdad

Kurds will play ball for now….but how long will this nicety last?

They will live with a unified Iraq….really?

Apparently putting an end to the independence push which began with September’s referendum, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has issued a statement today promising to respect a Supreme Court ruling that precludes independence, and emphasizes the “united Iraq.”

The Iraqi courts insisted that there is no constitutional method through which any part of Iraq could ever secede. Iraqi Kurdistan was in the process of such a secession before October offensives by the Iraqi military quickly got them to back off the plan.

This new statement appears to be an attempt to placate Iraq’s central government, which has been talking further punishment for the Kurdish regions, and has suggested the military operation could be restarted at any time.

Independence has been a long-standing goal for Kurds in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, but so far none had come as close as the KRG to effecting a formal declaration. At this point, it looks less likely than ever they’ll manage to achieve independence, or even retain previous autonomy.

(antiwar.com)

Then what the Hell was the independence referendum vote all about if they had NO inclination of session?  What game are the Kurds playing?

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Iraq/Syria Update

Note:  This is a lot to take in but if you read the articles you will be more informed than some of your leaders…I feel it is my duty to keep my readers informed and educated….chuq

I have been an analyst of the Middle East for decades….while events may fall from the headlines because of news I continue to monitor and report that which the MSM tries to suppress.  Other news is more timely but I feel as long as we have troops fighting in the Middle east then it is important to make my headlines.

The Pentagon loves lying about troop levels in its major wars, and that’s been particularly true in Iraq and Syria, where after being called out for underreporting several times they officially decided they were going to stop telling the public troop levels at all.

Maj. Gen. James Jarrard told reporters today that the US has about 4,000 ground troops in Syria, which is nearly 4,000 more troops than they’ve ever admitted to before. This figure apparently wasn’t supposed to be public, as other Pentagon officials were quickly scrambling to walk back that announcement.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon claimed to have no idea what the 4,000 figure was meant to represent, but insisted that the official figure for US troops in Syria is just 503. Whether that’s a firm count, or just the usual Pentagon hand-waving number, was unclear.

(antiwar.com)

While US is fighting whoever is handy in Syria the Russians are looking for a diplomatic venture in Syria…..

Russia is accelerating its efforts to subvert the Syrian political process by establishing a new diplomatic framework that sets conditions to expel the U.S. from Northern Syria. Russia announced its intent to host delegates from all major opposition, ethnic, and tribal factions at a “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” in Sochi on November 18. Russia may exploit the conference to broker a wider reconciliation deal between the Bashar al Assad Regime and the Syrian Kurdish YPG under conditions that preclude long-term U.S. influence in Syria.

Source: ISW Blog: Russia Seizes Syria Diplomacy Reins

Tillerson is sounding like Iraq will become a US possession whether Iraq likes it or not……

Testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the US presence in Iraq is so permanent at this point that even if Iraq specifically requests the US withdraw and removes permission for them to be there, the US will remain.

Tillerson addressed the question from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who asked whether the US intended to stay in Iraq uninvited like they are in Syria. Tillerson insisted the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gave the US legal authority to stay.

This appears to be an entirely new position for the US government, as the Bush Administration agreed to withdraw from Iraq after being unable to get Iraqi authorization to stay, and absolute legal immunity for US troops along with it.

(antiwar.com)

The main problem with Iraq is the US never understood the country at all…..

Days after the Kurdish Region of Iraq held a controversial independence referendum, Baghdad sent army and militia units to attack Kurdish positions in and around Kirkuk in the disputed territories. Such swift, aggressive action demonstrated Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s insistence that Iraqi Kurds will remain a part of his country, by whatever means necessary. Now, we are seeing the first repercussions: Long-time Kurdish Region President Masoud Barzani, who pushed for the referendum, resigned on October 29, sparking riots in the Kurdish capital of Erbil and other Kurdish cities, and launching new recriminations among Kurds and between Arabs and Kurds.For America, the short, sharp fighting in northern Iraq has revealed a brutal truth: Its dream of a democratic and federal, united Iraq is over. Ironically, that dream dies just as the Americans and their allies are winning major battlefield victories against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Raqqa, the capital of ISIS, fell to a U.S.-sponsored battlefield coalition of Syrian Arabs and Kurds. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, meanwhile, captured Hawija, one of the last ISIS strongholds in the country. But as the fighting shows in Iraq and foreshadows in Syria, Washington never had a political plan to deal with the underlying ethnic and sectarian contests for power that originally gave birth to ISIS.
Source: America Never Understood Iraq – The Atlantic

At this point, the US appears to be used to being engaged in overseas wars without permission, particularly in places like Syria, and having already declared their presence in Iraq to be permanently, officials figure they’re going to just pretend it’s legal.

Those are the major stories that the MSM overlooked….I could write the people that died Iraq over the past week……okay I will……

Antiwar.com found that at least 1,649 people were killed and 647 were wounded in violent activity during October. This is considerably fewer than in September, when at least 3,129 people were killed; only 496 were wounded.

The breakdown is as follows: At least 374 civilians were killed, and 300 were wounded. Among Iraqi and Kurdish servicemembers, at least 296 were killed, and 345 were wounded. One U.S. servicemember was killed, and another was wounded. Also, two Turkish servicemembers were killed, and three were wounded. At least 20 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) were also killed. Finally, at least 979 Islamic State militants were reported killed, but only two were wounded. Some of the dead were found in mass graves.

(antiwar.com)

Could Iraq be close to the end of 40 years of war?  Good questioon and here is a Libertarian lean to the answer…..

There is a growing mood of self-confidence in Baghdad which I have not seen here since I first visited Iraq in 1977. The country seemed then to be heading for a peaceful and prosperous future thanks to rising oil revenues. It only became clear several years later that Saddam Hussein was a monster of cruelty with a disastrous tendency to start unwinnable wars. At the time, I was able to drive safely all around Iraq, visiting cities from Mosul to Basra which became lethally dangerous over the next 40 years.

The streets of the capital are packed with people shopping and eating in restaurants far into the night. Looking out my hotel window, I can see people for the first time in many years building things which are not military fortifications. There are no sinister smudges of black smoke on the horizon marking where bombs have gone off. Most importantly, there is a popular feeling that the twin victories of the Iraqi security forces in recapturing Mosul in July and Kirkuk on 16 October have permanently shifted the balance of power back towards stability. The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, once criticised as weak and vacillating, is today almost universally praised for being calm, determined and successful in battling Isis and confronting the Kurds.

Source: Iraq may be coming to the end of 40 years of war – The Unz Review

Anything is possible in the Middle East but I think that there is still some animosities in Iraq that need working out before we can say there is an end to war in the country.

That was a lot to read….but if you want to know what is happening around our troops then it is worth the time it took to read this post.

Bet You Thought ISIS Was A Goner

Between Russia this and Russia that and petty Twitter attacks on dead soldier’s wife and politicians that do not agree and new we have indictments….with all that distraction we Americans have all but forgotten that group we call ISIS….am I right?

Although few care it is far from over in the  Middle East…..yes ISIS has been handed their butts on several occasions but that means the rest of the body is still fighting.

And it is about to get worse….even to the point of making news again…….

The main border crossing between Iraq and Syria, the city of Abu Kamal on the Syrian side and al-Qaim on the Iraqi side, is the last major territorial possession of ISIS, and the next big target for both Syria and Iraq’s militaries.

With those offensives likely to happen soon, ISIS is building up its defenses around the area, pushing more forces into the area while, according to US officials, ISIS leaders are being evacuated to smaller towns inside Syria that they still control.

ISIS still holds substantial territory in Syria, mostly in Deir Ezzor Province. They’ve been losing all the big cities and towns, along the Euphrates River, with Syrian military pushing on the river’s south shore, and Kurdish fighters taking the north shore.

US officials are suggesting an attack on Abu Kamal would be up to the Kurds to decide, but the Syrian military is likely to get there first. The Iraqi Air Force has already been dropping leaflets in al-Qaim in anticipation of an attack on that side of the border.

(antiwar.com)

AS someone famous once said….”It ain’t over ’til is over”  (Yogi Bera I believe)…..

Closing Thought–03Oct17

Americans Just Keep Dying!

There is usually not much in the MSM these days about American soldiers dying in combat…something I cannot allow to continue.

Another soldier killed in Iraq…..

Details are still emerging, but a US convoy in Iraq hit a roadside bomb on Sunday, according to Pentagon reports. One US soldier was killed and another was wounded in the incident.

Details are still emerging, but a US convoy in Iraq hit a roadside bomb on Sunday, according to Pentagon reports. One US soldier was killed and another was wounded in the incident.

This is the eighth US service member killed in the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria so far in 2017. The Pentagon offered no details about what the troops were doing, or where in Iraq the incident took place.

This is in keeping with the Pentagon’s increasingly secretive policy in both the ISIS and Afghan Wars, offering no details on how many troops are deployed, and keeping specifics about how the wars are being fought secret.

This latest incident underscores that despite the massive territorial losses ISIS has sustained in Iraq, the group continues to be active across most of the nation, and roadside bombs continue to be a concern, as they have throughout the US war.

(antiwar.com)

AS a concerned citizen for our many wars I will not be part of the whitewash….I will continue to write on deaths that our country suffers.

WE here at IST send our deepest sympathies to the family for their loss.  And may his comrade make a full recovery.

The Votes Are In!

The Votes Are In!

Yesterday the residents of Northeast Iraq, Kurd region, went to the polls to vote for session from the country of Iraq…….and now the final results are in…..well not final for at least 72 hours……

Polls have closed in Iraqi Kurdistan, and while there are a lot of questions about what’s going to happen next, one thing that’s not in serious doubt is the results. With some 78% of voters having gone to referendum, the final figures are still expected with 72 hours.

Early counts show what everyone suspected though, that it’s not going to be close. The first 300,000 votes, admittedly less than 10% of the count, showed 93.4% voting yes. A wide majority was always expected.

Iraqi Kurdistan has long sought independence, as has the rest of Kurdistan, which spans Syria, Turkey, and Iran. The part in Iraq, however, was very clear about having a vote as soon as the ISIS war was over, and they’ve been basically on their way out the door since.

The referendum was just an up and down vote on secession in general, but questions about the specific boundaries, especially after Kurdistan seized substantial new territory in the ISIS war, remain to be resolved.

(antiwar.com)

They just voted for an extension of the chaos in Iraq…..this vote only implies to Iraq but their are Kurds in several other Middle East states…..Turkey, Syria, Iran……what will these set about doing?

AS an example of things to come was a few days before the vote……A few days ahead of the Kurdistan referendum on independence, an ethnic clash took place between a group of Kurds and Turkmens in Kirkuk on Sept. 19. Local police deployed in different parts of the city to prevent the development of the deadly clash.

Other minorities may want their place in the sun….so to speak…..the Assyrians, Chaldean, etc.

The Vote Slowly Creeps Forward

Today is 25 September 2017 and if all goes well the Kurds will vote on referendum to become an independent region/nation.

Here is a paper by a group that I have worked with in the past…..the International Crisis Group…..it is about the risks involved in the vote by the Kurds….

On 25 September, barring a last-minute postponement, the Iraqi Kurdistan region will hold an independence referendum. Voters will be asked whether they want “the Kurdistan region and the Kurdish areas outside the region’s administration to become an independent state”. The referendum cannot turn Kurdistan into an independent state, regardless of turnout and outcome, because the vote is merely consultative and legally non-binding. Still, the situation presents serious risks, both if the referendum is held and if the price paid to delay it is too high.

Source: How to Mitigate the Risks of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Referendum | Crisis Group

So far the Kurds are the only ones that see this as a good thing…..even the US has tried to convince the Kurds to wait and be logical….so far they are damn straight going to go for it……even if it means more problems to a region that does not need more problems…..

As the Kurdish independence referendum draws near in Iraq, a war of words is threatening to grow into violence. Some Iraqi paramilitary factions under the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are increasing their warnings against the vote, and some Kurds are responding with talk of resorting to weapons. Iraq’s parliament voted Sept. 14 to dismiss the governor of Kirkuk province, who favors Kurdish independence, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) responded by announcing it is ending its partnership with Baghdad.

Reuters reported that the decision to remove the governor, Najmaldin Karim, “comes after Kirkuk — an oil-rich province claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq — decided to take part in a referendum set for Sept. 25 on Kurdish independence.”

Meanwhile, Karim is ignoring his ouster. This all could lead to a new spiral of violence even before the country rids itself of the Islamic State (IS).

No one sees this as a successful transition….

The plan to hold an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan next week has run into a new obstacle:

Iraq’s supreme court has approved a request by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to suspend an independence referendum that the country’s Kurdistan region planned to hold later this month.

The court said Monday the vote will be on hold until it reviews cases regarding the constitutionality of the vote.

The referendum will probably still take place, and the Kurdish parliament endorsed proceeding with the vote on Friday, but the ruling confirms that Baghdad won’t view it as legitimate. The court ruling comes on the heels of warnings from the Iraqi prime minister that Baghdad is prepared to use force if the referendum results in violence. Abadi also raised the prospect that the referendum would serve as an invitation to other governments to meddle in Iraqi affairs:

Source: The Dangers of the Kurdish Referendum | The American Conservative

Only more problems for the US military to solve….and they have not been too good at that aspect here lately…..more blood and death.

There is a couple of things to keep in mind when thinking about the vote……

On Sept. 25, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is expected to hold its long-awaited referendum on independence. While it has generated much nationalist excitement among Kurds in the KRI capital of Irbil and abroad, the central government in Baghdad and the international community have objected to the vote. The United States has mobilized diplomatic capital to persuade Irbil to postpone the vote. Last week, Western diplomats offered an alternative proposal: Postpone the vote and enter into new mediated negotiations with Baghdad. But without ironclad guarantees or a specified timetable, Irbil has rejected those initiatives, continuing to prepare for the referendum.

The referendum was never meant to be a silver bullet, ending negotiations on Kurds’ path to statehood. But recent escalations by all sides have produced a self-fulfilling crisis with the prospect of military conflict, fueled by both Arab and Kurdish nationalism.

Source: 5 things to know about the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan – The Washington Post

As a premonition of things to come I offer up the latest clash….

Iraqi Kurds and Turkmens clashed in Kirkuk on Monday night, a week before the disputed territory votes in a referendum on independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. The clashes prompted local police to deploy around the city to prevent ethnic tensions from escalating. Kirkuk’s extensive Turkmen and Arab populations largely oppose the inclusion of their city in the controversial vote scheduled for Sept. 25.

Like I keep saying….this vote could create more problems than it solves.

 

On To “Kurdexit”

Remember last year the big mash up over the “Brexit”….that referendum where the UK would leave the EU?

Well there is a similar thing happening in the Middle East…..on 25 Sept of this year the Kurds will vote on a referendum to leave the country of Iraq……

It was an eventful summer, especially in the Middle East. It all began with the Qatar kerfuffle on June 5, followed soon thereafter with a change in Saudi Arabia’s line of succession. Then came violence and protests over security measures at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. Mosul and Tel Afar were liberated in Iraq. The American-backed Syrian Defense Forces marched on Raqqa, the self-declared Islamic State’s “capital.” Yemen descended further into a humanitarian disaster with 600,000 cases of cholera and imminent famine. Morocco exploded in protest over the death of a fishmonger last fall at the hands of police. Iran continued to consolidate its power around the Middle East. The Trump administration withheld or delayed about $300 million in military assistance to Egypt over “geopolitical and human rights concerns.” Turkey’s massive purge continued. And prosecutors in Israel edged closer to indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption.

There was another story of potentially enormous consequences that received scant attention, however. Throughout the summer Iraqi Kurds prepared for a referendum on independence that will be held on Sept. 25. For the better part of a century, Iraq’s Kurds have been trying to undo what the League of Nations did under British pressure in 1925 when it attached the former Ottoman province of Mosul to Iraq. Their incorporation into Iraq has been an unhappy experience for the Kurds, to say the least.

Source: Is the world ready for “Kurdexit”? Referendum among Iraqi Kurds has Middle East on edge – Salon.com

There are very few people that see this referendum as a good thing for Iraq or the larger Middle East…..that is with the exception of the Israelis…..

The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzanion Tuesdayrejected an Iraqi parliament vote authorizing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “to take all measures” to reject the Kurdish independence referendum and preserve Iraqi unity. Speaking in Kirkuk following the vote, Barzani vowed that the referendum would still go ahead on September 25. Abadi has threatened that Kurds will lose all their political gains if they proceed with the vote and instead urged them to come to Baghdad for a dialogue. While the referendum has little international support, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahureaffirmedTuesday that Israel “supports the Kurdish people’s legitimate attempts at self-determination.”

The predictions of the aftermath are dire…..that the violence is far from over even with the defeat of ISIS…..plus they see the Kurds expanding to all parts of the Middle East….Syria, Turkey, Iran, etc…..none will be good for the well being of the region.