Tag Archives: kirkuk

Good News from Kurdistan

Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia,” by Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 27 December 2005, http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/world/13495329.htm (from America Blog and Democratic Underground).

Very happy news from Kurdistan, an embryo of democracy in the Middle East:

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

This is fantastic news.

Iraq is an artificial state that should break apart. , that of the Middle East caused by Bush’s gift of elections to Iraq, was a wonderful reward for the Iraq War. The trifurcation of Iraq is another.

Dr. Barnett has written a lot about a “,” the reconstruction force that should take conquered land and turn them (eventually) into peaceful capitalist democracies. It can barely work as envisioned in the best of cases, and spending vital energy trying to keep imaginary states created by the British and French together is just wasteful. Next time we invade a country like Iraq, rationalization of borders should be assumed from the beginning.

Besides waisting time and effort, trying to keep fake countries together hurts in another way: it can make progress go backwards. Before the Iraq War the Kurds already had a functional democracy. If we are going to pretend that they should be ruled by Ba’ath Revivalists, the Iraq War would have sacrificed a democracy (Iraqi Kurdistan) on the altar of Affirmative Action for Murderers (trying to buy off Arab Sunnis by pretending Arab Sunni political parties are different from Arab Sunni terrorists). Fortunately, the Kurds have had enough.

More on the Kurdish soldiers, preparing to create their New Kurdish Republic

The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga – the Kurdish militia – and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn’t hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.

“It doesn’t matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion,” said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. “Kirkuk will be ours.”

The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they’ve long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga – literally, “those who face death” – told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.

Happily, the majority Shia are also planning for the dismemberment of Iraq:

Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq’s central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.

As I wrote a year ago

A trifurcated Iraqi state would be a success. It would represent a victory for local democracy. It would improve connectivity. And it would prove a valuable warning for future regimes.

Iraq was not democratically created. There were no founding fathers or great constitutional convention after the end of the Great War. It was merely one of four new states (along with Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq) carved out by two victors. Of the original four, one has already disintegrated (Transjordan into Jordan and Israel, which will soon splinter into Israel and Palestine) and another (Lebanon) has lost territorial integrity. Allowing local sovereigns that represent the will of actual peoples would be a step up, if they wish it so.

Iraq has not been connected. Before Saddam Iraq was poor, illiterate, and backwards, and after a brief rebirth it sank almost all the way back again. Even though they were the original Westernizers, it appears that a significant fraction of Iraq’s Sunnis are hostile to globalization and connectivity. No people can be pulled ahead unwillingly. Even if modern-term strategy requires us to abandon the Sunni Triangle, hooking Kurdistan and Shia Iraq to the rest of the world, that is a tremendous victory. A free, democratic, and peaceful Kurdistan shows a future worth creating to both Turks and Turkish Kurds. And a non-authoritarian Shia Iraq is a bright light for Shia Iran. The Sunnis represent only 20% of Iraq. 80% victory is not 100% victory, but it is still victory.

Free Sumer! Free Kurdistan! Free East Arabia, for that matter!

Don’t spill Coalition blood for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.

Oops! We won! Inshallah!

Shiite Iraq,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/02/shiite-iraq-al-hayat-muhammad-husain.html, 18 February 2005.

It’s not often that pro-insurgent ballot boycotts coincide with Monty Pythonesque hilarity, but these are interesting times

In a startling development to which the Western press is paying little attention, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq has won the provincial governments in 8 of the 18 provinces in the country, including Baghdad. Over-all Shiite lists won 11 of the 18. Sadrists won Wasit and Maysam, and perhaps one other. Dawa doesn’t appear to have run well at the provincial level. The Kurds won several of the northern provinces, including Ta’mim (where Kirkuk is) and Ninevah. The Iraqi Islamic Party won Anbar province, even though it withdrew from the elections. (It couldn’t properly withdraw because the ballots had already been printed.) But only 2 percent of the residents of Anbar voted, so the IIP victory doesn’t mean much.

In l33t speak: 1010^^65^^^135835064^/

Kurdish Kirkuk

The Future of Tamin Province and the Future of Iraq,” by Spencer Ackerman, Iraq’d, http://www.tnr.com/blog/iraqd?pid=2501, 20 January 2005.

Great, great, great news out of Iraq.

One of the tragedies of Ba’athi rule was the ongoing ethnic cleansing programs instituted by Saddam. Ancient cities, including the Kurdish city of Kirkuk, were cleared of Kurds are “Arabized.” In great, great, great news, the Iraqi government has announced that Kurds returning to Kirkuk can vote in the upcoming elections.

This all but guarantees the Kirkuk will eventually be the capital city of a future Kurdistan

THE FUTURE OF TAMIM PROVINCE AND THE FUTURE OF IRAQ: It’s looking more and more like the most important election on January 30 won’t be the one that determines control of Baghdad. It’ll be the one that determines who controls the northern province of Tamim. And a decision by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq makes that a foregone conclusion.

Tamim is the province that contains the multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Arabs, Turkmen and especially Kurds. The province has a population of about 1.2 million people, split roughly evenly between Arabs and Kurds. That equivalence, however, is in no small measure the result of Saddam Hussein’s genocide of the Kurds, which encouraged Arabs to move into formerly Kurdish areas. The Kurdish leadership, which routinely refers to Kirkuk as the Jerusalem of the Kurdish people, has as a first-tier objective the control of the city.

Control of the city is tied up in control of Tamim province. Since the invasion of Iraq, a delicate ethnic balance has held over the 40-seat provincial council: Fifteen seats have gone to the Kurds, eleven to Arabs, nine to Turkmen, and seven to Christians, with the remainder distributed amongst smaller factions. But also since the invasion, tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees have been returning to Kirkuk and the surrounding areas; in several cases, returning Kurds have in turn created Arab refugees. The electoral status of these refugees has been in question for months. Recently, the Kurdish leadership threatened to boycott the provincial election entirely unless their refugees were enfranchised in Tamim. This caused no end of bitterness among Kirkuk’s Turkmen and Arabs.

On Saturday, the Iraqi electoral commission, apparently deciding that the risk of a Kurdish boycott was unacceptable, announced a deal allowing up to 100,000 Kurdish refugees to vote in Tamim province. The deal effectively guarantees that the Kurds will dominate the Tamim council and the prized city it contains. And that, in turn, has massive implications for the future of Iraq: Under the Transitional Administrative Law, the final status of Kirkuk–that is, whether it is or isn’t part of Kurdistan–will be determined after the ratification of a permanent constitution and the holding of a census in the province and the city. That census is now guaranteed to show a Kurdish majority. As George Packer recently wrote in The New Yorker, what comes next is “a foregone conclusion”:

[T]he province of [Tamim] will vote to join the autonomous region of Kurdistan, and the city will go with it.

The article goes on with typically inane warnings of a civil war. There is a civil war on, now. Denying there is one, and preventing pro-democracy forces from achieving there due, is little more than pro-insurgent appeasement.

Revolutionary Forces

Downsides of Partioning Iraq,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/downsides-of-partitioning-iraq-some.html, 4 January 2005 (from Andrew Sullivan).

Dr. Juan Cole argues against partioning Iraq. While partitioning as such might not be the best idea (a federal structure with Reconstruction for the Sunni lands makes a lot more sense) his reasoning is wrong, wrong wrong.

Then, how do you split up the resources? If the Sunni Arabs don’t get Kirkuk, then they will be poorer than Jordan. Don’t you think they will fight for it? The Kurds would fight to the last man for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk if it was a matter of determining in which country it ended up.

If the Kurds got Kirkuk and the Sunni Arabs became a poor cousin to Jordan, the Sunni Arabs would almost certainly turn to al-Qaeda in large numbers. Some Iraqi guerrillas are already talking about hitting back at the US mainland. And, Fallujah is not that far from Saudi Arabia, which Bin Laden wants to hit, as well, especially at the oil. Fallujah Salafis would hook up with those in Jordan and Gaza to establish a radical Sunni arc that would destabilize the entire region.

I think they’re already fighting. A civil war has already begun. If pro-Democracy Kurds become rich and pro-Totalitarian Sunnis become “poorer than Jordon,” good. Jordon has very limited ability to cause trouble. We do not want to arm our ideological enemies with oil wealth. We have let the Saudis keep their oil wells for fifty years, and it has not been working that well.

Al Qaeda in Iraq (former Monotheism and Jihad) is a leading terrorist organization there now. It is to late to keep them out. Tolerated by the Sunni-Ba’athis under Saddam Hussein, they are organized, motivated, and murderous.

Al Qaeda has already attacked us in our homeland. Sunni Iraqis have already “hook[ed] up with” those in other nations. The first world trade center bombing, for example, was masterminded by an Iraqi. Refusing to recognize that we are at war now and a “radical Sunni arc” is destabilizing the region now is foolishness.

Divorced from the Sunnis, the Shiites of the south would no longer have any counterweight to religious currents like al-Dawa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the Sadrists.

The Dawa Party has endorsed the elections. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolutionin Iraq has endorsed the election. Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are running in the elections. These are the democratic forces in Iraq. Why should they be “counterweighted” by Sunni thugs?

The rump Shiite state would be rich, with the Rumayla and other fields, and might well declare a Shiite Islamic republic.

The fact is the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most progressive forces in the region. It has an educated and secular population that operates unders a constitutional republic. Iran has our enemies — they have always opposed the Taliban and the Ba’athi reign of Saddam Hussein. Iran is friends with many of our friends, including Russia and China. Iran has an ability to trascend ideology in its foreign policy (say supporting the Christian Republic of Armenia in its struggles against Azerbaijan, or its support for the “infidel” Alawite Ba’ath Party in Syria) lightyears ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Reality determines policy. Events have conspired to give us and Iran very similar interests. There is no reason to throw that away.

It is being coupled with the Sunnis that mainly keeps them from going down that road. A Shiite South Iraq might make a claim on Shiite Eastern Arabia in Saudi Arabia, or stir up trouble there. The Eastern Province can pump as much as 11% of the world’s petroleum.

So Americans would like this scenario why?

This is a reason to support Shia power. By their continued support for repression, terrorism, and hatred, the Saudis have stabbed us in the back. Their interests are not our interests. Spreading a democratic Shia revolution along the Persian Gulf would at worst check Saudi ambitions and at best create a order for that region.

There is more to life than cheap oil. Such as ending the regimes that support terrorism.

The true downside of isolating the Iraqi Sunni remnant is that it would cement the disconnectedness of that region. Before Saddam the Sunnis were the most connected, the most “Core” of Mesopotamia. It is an irony of history that with the liberation, the formerly isolated Kurds and Shia are embracing the world while the formerly secular Sunnis are turning inward.

Disconnnectedness breeds terrorism. Have freed the majority of Iraq’s people and wealth, we may have to be content with 4/5ths victory. 4/5ths of the people free. 4/5ths of the wealth out of the hands of outlaws. 1/5th sullent, hateful, and backwards.

If the Palestinian election creates an administration capable of peace, from the Israeli administration to independence will have taken a little less than two generations. Taking freedom’s wins in Iraq now, we may have to wait until 2044 to join the world. In the meantime it will continue to be a danger. And if we do leave al-Anbar Province, we will be back.