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17 September 2017

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Lemur

As a principled nationalist, I believe that any major ethnic groups who aspire to nationhood should have their desire for self-determination respected. If there is war, then so be it. The Thirteen Colonies seemed to think they were justified in their struggle against the imperial metropole (arguably culturally more aligned with them than Shia Arabs are with Sunni Kurds).

Nonetheless, there are qualifications. Nationalism shouldn't lead to more internationalism. The Kurds will clearly become another magnet for useless foreign interventions by the West. We must defend the democracy loving kurds! Look, they even love gays! Furthermore, the Kurds are already embroiled in Zionist scheming, which promotes nationalism for the chosen but not for the goys. Lastly, the Kurds have mistreated Christian minorities like the Assyrians from time to time, and really our foreign policy should be discriminating in favour of our coreligionists in the region.

Until our own national integrity is restored, and the Kurds can prove they not aligned with forces whose goals are contrary to our interests; the Kurdish state will have to wait.


Babak Makkinejad

Why do not you support the breakup of the Indian Union, which could give rise to at least 13 new countries?
Who cares if 10 million Indians die in that process and another 10 during the coming decades?

jld

The Kurds have been a bunch of suckers and mountain bandits since at least the times of Xenophon (circa 400 BC) and never managed to "get their shit together".
Why would this be different as of today?

Oilman2

In my time in the area, the majority of the Kurds I interfaced with just wanted a stable environment. They wanted to work and eat and the usual things we all want. The ones who wanted a separate state were few, and many of those were unemployed by choice. There is work aplenty, when there isn't a war going on. Most people don't want or need the war, as many had quite enough in Iraq. The predominant wish was no war and to be able to make a living.

My feeling is that chaos all around would be fine for the Israelis, secure for them when enemies focus on their own chaos. But this same chaos is unwanted by the people involved - hence where does it originate? Cui bono?

I don't think there can be a separate Kurdish state, as landlocked countries require good allies, and Turkey and Iraq are unlikely to surrender any land. But there can certainly be a functioning Kurdish region within Turkey, Iraq and Syria - as they are used to. Reversion to the old normal would seem the most likely, if not most equitable, solution. Turkey may wish to expel the Kurds but they are too many. Iraq may wish the same, but has the same problem. And the Kurds themselves are splintered in their wishes and goals - making anything resembling a separate state very problematic.

If chaos all around is preferred by Israel, who is the only beneficiary in this entire mess (keep the Golan, grab offshore nat gas, divert from Palestine issue, etc.) - it would seem that the participants may soon have another option courtesy of the civil war winding down. Yet I do not see Kurdistan appearing due to the inability of the Kurdish groups to form a viable alliance and be able to push that agenda on the ground. Maybe in some conference room in another country, but this has to translate into actions supported by the Kurds themselves in a unified fashion in reality - which has not happened. It must be supported by other governments as well, and yet all we see is their desire to curb Kurdistan and corral the Kurds into a tidy box - elsewhere...

Erich Newhill

Lemur,
As a principled nationalist who believes "that any major ethnic groups who aspire to nationhood should have their desire for self-determination respected", do believe that US Hispanics should be able to carve out the SW as their own country? Should black Americans be able to have their own white free country (or countries); e.g. Detriotistan? I bet not.

IMO, If there is to be any hope for the MENA it lies in dropping the idea that any tribe can raise a flag and call itself a country. Why not a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic Syria?

mike

November will be the one-hundredth year since the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement was unveiled to the world by the Russians. Iraqis, Turks, Iranians and Syrians have been griping about it and denouncing it ever since. Now is their chance to bury this English and French colonialist afterbirth of World War I.

Unfortunately for the Kurds, the oil under their ancient homeland has now become part of the colonial dreams of Baghdad.

The US Department of State is paying 'Realpolitik' and siding against Kurdish independence. Although there seems to be some pushback from many SOF troops who have served with Kurds in both raq and Syria.

Bandolero

All

To me it looks like that Israel made a serious mistake by associating itself with the Barzani KRG. Just have a look how regional media reports about the referendum now. See here for example Turkish media:

"200,000 Jewish Kurds headed for Iraqi Kurdistan, howls Turkish press"

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/09/jewish-israeli-kurds-bound-for-krg-after-referendum.html

Or see NRT TV from Sulimani:

"Maliki says Iraq won’t allow creation of ‘second Israel’ in country"

http://www.nrttv.com/EN/Details.aspx?Jimare=16589

So, if conflict breaks out after the referendum, what will this fight look like? It already looks like Barzani KRG & Israel against the rest of the world.

I wonder whether Israel really believes it can win this.

Will.2718

Not on point, but sort of related to the topic of Separatism. Have often wondered whether the Crown escaped a catastrophe down the road by losing the three Carolina battles of King's Mountain, Cowpens, & Guilford Courthouse (of which the
American commander was Lighthorse Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee's dad) which led to the surrender at the Siege of Yorktown in Virginia.

The decision of Lord Mansfield's case had previously held that the free air of England & Wales did not support chattel slavery
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_v_Stewart

"Somerset v Stewart (1772) 98 ER 499 (aka Somersett's case, or in State Trials v.XX Sommersett v Steuart) is a famous judgment of the English Court of King's Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales, although the position elsewhere in the British Empire was left ambiguous. Lord Mansfield decided that:
The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [statute], which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.[1]
Slavery had never been authorised by statute in England and Wales, and Lord Mansfield's decision found it also unsupported in common law. Lord Mansfield narrowly limited his judgment to the issue of whether a person, regardless of being a slave, could be removed from England against his will, and said he could not. Even this reading meant that certain property rights in chattel slaves were unsupported by common law. It is one of the most significant milestones in the abolitionist campaign.
Some historians believe the case contributed to increasing colonial support for separatism in the Thirteen Colonies of British North America, by parties on both sides of the slavery question who wanted to establish independent government and law.[2] The southern colonies wanted to protect slavery and expanded its territory dramatically in the decades after independence was won.[3][4]"

The Crown abolished slavery in 1833 with some overseas exceptions which were removed in 1843.
"The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) was an 1833 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire (with the exceptions "of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company", Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and Saint Helena; the exceptions were eliminated in 1843). The Act was repealed in 1998 as part of a wider rationalisation of English statute law, but later anti-slavery legislation remains in force."

"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_Abolition_Act_1833

Thus, I believe the Slave holding American colonies would have ultimately been involved in a war of secession with the Crown rather than the United States had the American Revolution failed.

I believe a prime cause of the (largely) Anglo-American Texian (that's what they called themselves then) revolt from the Mexican government was Slavery. Mexico had abolished slavery but made an exception for Texas but forbade further importation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery_in_Texas

Hood Canal Gardner

Lemur .. okay, your call:

"aligned with forces whose goals are contrary to our interests; the Kurdish state will have to wait."

I'll bite: Have to wait for what?

Babak Makkinejad

Iran did not care about Sykes-Pico.
2/3 of the oil that KRG pumps comes from Kirkuk; they are stealing Arabs' money. That will not last.

Fred

Lemur,

"As a principled nationalist, I believe that any major ethnic groups who aspire to nationhood should have their desire for self-determination respected."

So in 1861 the folks in South Carolina were right afterall.

kooshy

Colonel FYI, according to Iranian news site , last night secretary of Iran' national security council Admiral Shamkhani ( Himself an Iranian Arab) went on live TV and said if Kurdistan region in Iraq declares independence, Iran will close all it's borders to the region and will terminate all its agreements with the Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Iran only recognizes integrated, federal Iraq: Top official"
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/17/535481/Iran-Iraq-Kurdistan-Ali-Shamkhani-referendum-independence

Emad

Mike,

Last I checked, troops, SOF or not, serve national policy, not make it. Have things changed recently?

Bill Herschel

Touché

Bill Herschel

The plot thickens:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/01/russia-and-the-syrian-regime-bombed-u-s-backed-fighters-in-syria-u-s-general-says/

Laguerre

The problem of the Kurds in Iraq is that they are bankrupt. They have an agreement of 17% of oil production with Baghdad. But then they broke the agreement by exporting elsewhere. So Baghdad stopped paying. The oil-fields of Kirkuk produce only 65k bpd, as opposed to 2 million in the Iraqi south. Big financial freeze in Erbil. Only relieved for the Peshmerga, by the US agreement to pay their salaries, if they attack Mosul.

That's the context of the Kurdish vote. No doubt the vote will be for independence. The only question is how Kurdistan will pay for it.

mike

Oilman2's comment above is correct that a landlocked country requires good allies so there will probably be no separate Kurdish state. Unfortunate IMHO.

Israel would never support them. They only support the KRG's referendum in hoping that their public support will infuriate Iran and it will start a war in which Big Sugar would get involved in. I expect that Iran is not going to fall for that.

The Turks have threatened war though. And Iraq will undoubtedly go to war if disputed areas try to breakaway. Will Abadi invade if only the undisputed areas of the KRG secede (i.e. without Kirkuk, and much of Nineveh)? Maybe, or maybe not, but the Hashd may take matters into their own hands with or without Baghdad's consent.

In any case a referendum is not a declaration of independence. It is basically only a tally on the aspirations of the Kurdish people of Iraq. IMHO all the tough talk by Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran is an attempt to tamp down those aspirations by scaring away some voters with threats of violence or boycott.

blowback

You do know that the article you linked to is dated March 1st, 2017 and refers to events around al-Bab. The date is in the link BTW.

However, there was an incident in the last couple of days when the RuAF or SAAF were alleged to have bombed some SDF forces near Deir Ez-zor and US advisers were claimed to be nearby. The Russian statement on this indicates that the Russians informed the United States forces that they would be operating in the area and no doubt expected the United States to stay away as the Russians did earlier in the year around Al-tanf:

"To avoid unnecessary escalation, the command of the Russian forces in Syria gave the US partners an advance notice, through an existing communications channel, on the [territorial] borders within which the military operation in Deir Ez-Zor would be conducted," Konashenkov said.

It also appears that the Russians are suspicious of exactly who the alleged SDF are:

Konashenkov pointed out that the Russian intelligence services had discovered no clashes between Daesh fighters and any armed representatives of "third parties" on the eastern bank of the Euphrates in the last few days. He added that "only representatives of the international coalition themselves" could say how opposition members or coalition allies could make their way into the midst of Daesh troops without any fighting.

Could it be that there was no fighting because the "SDF fighters" were members of ISIS who have shaved off their beards and "reconciled" with the SDF? ISIS would not reconcile with the YPG.

BTW, so far there seems to have been no comment about the alleged bombing from the US military that I can find (looked in NY Times and WaPo, also nothing in Guardian, RT or Sputnik).

mike

Babak Makkinejad - Thank you for the input.

You are right that Iran was not directly affected by Sykes-Picot when it was first implemented. But didn't the Brits shortly afterwards empower Reza Shah to bring down the Qajars. But maybe that was a good thing as Qajars were Turkic weren't they and not Persian? Later Sykes-Picot gave the British a springboard in Iraq for their August 1941 invasion of Iran. And Sykes-Picot gave rise to Iraqi Baathism and eventually the eight-year war of aggression launched by Sadaam against Iran. So Iran may not have cared at the time but it did damage them indirectly.

As far as Kurds stealing Arab oil: Kirkuk was a multiethnic province where Arabs were a 28% minority and Kurds held a plurality of 48% of the population. That is until Sadaam and the Baathists started ethnic cleansing by forcing Kurd, Turkmen and Assyrian families out and moving Arab families in.

mike

Blowback -

Fourteen SDF KIA so far in the Deir ez-Zor operation. They were attacked by eight VBIEDs plus four suicide attacks. They have confirmed the death of hundreds of Daesh.
They liberated 4,000 civilians and evacuated them to safe areas.

US statement on Russian airstrike is here:
http://www.inherentresolve.mil/News/News-Releases/Article/1313797/russian-strike-wounds-syrian-democratic-forces-troops/

A similar statement was released by CentCOM.

paul

@jld

until fairly middle ages "kurd" was a generic persian word for nomad, (the same thing for Baluch)

and in the ancient world the people who inhabited the kurdish areas were semites of one form or another.

confusedponderer

Bandpolero,
"I wonder whether Israel really believes it can win this."

One has to look at this closely to get an idea about it. I think the Izzies rather ovbviously do think that.

Probably, IMO that is, from an Israeli nutter point of view, 'winning would be achieved' if their neighbouring countries are wrecked and destabilised. It would leave the Israelis in a position of greater relative strength, which Israel understands as 'greater safety', erroneously IMO.

Anyway, Bibi's folks IMO seem to like that and aim on it, irrespective of any price that their neighbours will have to pay for that relative greatdom.

I think that's why that loon near to Netanyahu recently said that Israel would like ISIS governing Syria instead of Assad. His thus expressed idiocy sums up the narrow and low thinking in Israel on that matter marvellously:

To folks like him that would be a benefit, because ISIS-Land would be weaker than Assad's Syria.

If it came to that desired chaos around Israel, then the Izzies, with the support of the Saudis and the like - and the US of course - be the last and strongest, and of course truly benevolent, nation around.

They could then dictate, err, of course 'propose for everybody's benefit' "solutions" to the neighbours and 'live in "safety", eventually.

Well, that sort of desired "safety" would naturally be limited to what occasional bombs and raids and bribes can achieve. That much for the 'win'.

If it came to violence against Israel and/or jews afterwards that's just proof of how super true Israel's permanent initial accusations against about everybody else, especially Iran, have been. For Bibi likely a 'win-win'.

My nasty pessimist side of the mind adds to this that also, as a side benefit probably not lost on King Bibi, a warlet may have domestic benefits as well, since it may even distract from that nasty corruption investigation that is on in Israel against him and his wife atm.

Bibi's domnestical benefit would be that one cannot unseat a leader, how corrupt or dumb he is, in times of war - when national security, no, more, national, no, the world's survival is at stake! That'd be the triple strike - 'win-win-win'.

Now that's a strategy, just by screwing up, here and there, you don't lose but win - and win three times. Magic at work!

In that respect, "right now" would be a desired time 'to do something, anything. IMO it is thus rather realistic and reasonable to expect the Israelis to bomb something soon. After all, the Israelis were planning for and babbling about air striking Assad's presidential palace, perhaps killing the man, to help ISIS, err, naturally, to help their super patriotic, benev(i)olent Syrian resistant friends.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-29/israel-threatens-bomb-assads-presidential-palace

IMO such a warlet wouldn't solve anything but it would likely feel good in Israel and would also reduce domestic pressure on Bibi. That written, going to warlet or trying to create neighbour destability is IMO an utterly crazy idea, but then, can the utterly bright and likely smartest people on earth, like Bibi, ever err, or fail? Never ever.

Tel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_independence_precedent

Now enshrined in International law.

LeaNder

BTW, so far there seems to have been no comment about the alleged bombing from the US military that I can find (looked in NY Times and WaPo, also nothing in Guardian, RT or Sputnik).

I was slightly irritated too ...

Wikipedia glimpse on 2017 events around the SDF:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Democratic_Forces#2017

Pentagon/Operation Inherent Resolve:
http://www.inherentresolve.mil/News/News-Releases/Article/1313797/russian-strike-wounds-syrian-democratic-forces-troops/

Sputnik, 9/16 and 9/17 - A Kurdish source?
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201709161057456338-usa-accuses-russia-strike-sdf-syria/

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201709171057461442-russia-mod-rebels-syria/

Ishmael Zechariah

Mike,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirkuk
"The presence of the oil industry had an effect on Kirkuk's demographics. The exploitation of Kirkuk's oil, which began around 1930, attracted both Arabs and Kurds to the city in search of work. Kirkuk, which had been a predominantly Turkmen city, gradually lost its uniquely Turkmen character.[32][33][34] At the same time, large numbers of Kurds from the mountains were settling in the uninhabited but cultivable rural parts of the district of Kirkuk. The influx of Kurds into Kirkuk continued through the 1960s.[35] According to the 1957 census, Kirkuk city was 37,63% Iraqi Turkmen, 33,26% Kurdish with Arabs and Assyrians making up less than 23% of its population.[36][37]"

Care to dispute the above?

Still, even if we use your numbers, 52 % of the population, Turkmens, Assyrians and Arabs, form a majority and will not accept kurdish mis-rule. Given your vast knowledge of the region, you might have noted that kurds have a peculiar reputation in the Middle East...Most of us detest separatist kurds. Read the comment by Oilman 2 above again. It is very accurate.

Ishmael Zechariah


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