Kurdistan is still on track for its independence referendum on Sept 25.
I had been wondering how the US would bounce, and so – probably – have you. Well, the Magic 8-Ball we used to call the US Foreign Policy has spoken and it’s:
White House demands KRG to ‘call off’ Kurdistan independence referendum
The White House has called on the Kurdistan Region to “call off” the independence referendum scheduled for September 25, saying that the vote is “particularly provocative and destabilizing” in the disputed areas. [rudaw]
In a way, I am happy because the US’ response is more honest than it could have been. They could have said something about the sovereignty of Iraq and Syria being compromised, because the US has always been deeply concerned about that.
In 2008, the US set a strong precedent for the legitimacy of democratized partition, when Kosovo separated from Serbia. And, of course, the US was strongly against Crimea voting (95% in favor, in what was probably a more-than-slightly rigged vote) to join Russia. At that time Crimean sovereignty was very important, but Serbian was not, and Iraqi is middling-important, but oh, who knows anymore? The US has so thoroughly discredited itself, I don’t think it really makes much difference. Putin comes across as a statesman:
Crimea’s leader says he will apply to join Russia on Monday. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the Crimean people’s wishes. [bbc]
My suspicion is that the US’ condemnation is theater. Kurdistan appears to be fairly good at providing shock troops in the US-led demolition of Syria; the reality of the situation is that the Kurds control Kirkuk and the oil fields and Mosul as well. If the US thought that the Kurds were going to drive ISIS out of those areas and then give them back to the corrupt Iraqi government and its ineffective US-built military, well, they weren’t thinking.
The real issue, I suspect, is that Kurdistan’s independence will break the 2nd largest oil-producing country in OPEC in two. That’s turning “divide et impera” into “divide et deficient.”
I think the US’ response is largely bullshit and has probably been known to be bullshit for a long time. There is no possible way anyone could not have expected the partition of Iraq as a final outcome. They were even talking about it just after Baghdad fell. It’s just taken longer, and more lives, and it hasn’t angered Turkey any less. The long-term alliance of convenience with Turkey is probably going to fade away and the US will use Kurdistan as a new base for its special forces assassins and killer drones, and may move its nukes to there from Turkey.
It’s depressing to contemplate that President Trump probably doesn’t even know where Kurdistan is; he’s probably just taking the advice of the military. When you want a steaming plate of disaster, ask the US military leadership – they have all the best recipes for disaster.
Divide and they will withdraw? Divide and they will be unfit for purpose? Divide and they will disappoint us?
From what I’ve read I think Kurdistan would be a more cuturally sympathetic partner to the US as well as a more pragmatic partner than the Turkey of Erdogan. I hope they succeed in becoming independant without bloodshed, or more realisticly without signficant bloodshed.
Marcus Ranum says
Divide and they will be unfit for purpose?
I was trying for “divide and fail”
I need to stop. This is just public self-humiliation. Darn it!
Romans house, they are divided. Or something.
Marcus Ranum says
You neatly sum up my feelings.
I’m not a fan of nationalism at all, but I suppose the Kurds need a chance to experience it, that they may understand its advantages and disadvantages. The idea of “having a homeland” to me is very suspicious but obviously the Kurds want one and it looks like they’ll get one. They did pay a huge price in blood for it – the Turks hunted them for decades, and they served as shock troops for the US against ISIS in order to gain the ground they’ll hold.
Someday they’ll tell glory stories about it. They’ll be the usual proportion of lies but that’s nationalism.