Analysis Of The Iraqi Kurds

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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 …show more content…

Those in the West, and they are numerous, who frame the picture as yet another tragic betrayal of legitimate Kurdish aspirations should pause and consider the oft-overlooked context. I was in and around Erbil and Sulaimania before and during the US invasion in 2003. It was the Kurds who first marched into Kirkuk by force as Saddam's regime fell. They imposed martial law and proceeded to burn buildings that housed property records thereby expunging the history of land ownership in the city. Historically, from the Ottoman era into the Baathist decades, the Turkmen had regarded Kirkuk as their regional capital—which is why Mustafa Kemal refused to sign a treaty ceding it to the British after World War 1 (ever since, rather hopelessly, the Turks have considered it a kind of temporary lost limb). Kurds have convinced one and all that the city was always their Jerusalem. Along with Kirkuk, the Kurds entered Mosul and tried to rule it for some months but the Sunni-Arab resistance proved too stiff and they were expelled. Mosulites never recouped their faith in an integrated Iraq—eventually ISIS moved in. We should all remember, as we bemoan the expansion of Iranian power over Iraqi terrain, that it was the Kurds who first triggered the chaotic fragmentation of the country after Saddam's ouster with their widespread looting to the very suburbs of Baghdad. They also forcibly took possession of Saddam's northern Tenth Army's heavy weapons

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