Gevorg mirzayan, associate Professor, Department of political science of the Financial University under the government of the Russian Federation, for RIA Novosti
The Kurds have once again missed the opportunity to create their own Kurdistan. Because they once again passed the United States.
Outplayed and lost
A month ago, after a referendum on independence on 20 September (in which more than 90% of the men voted “for”), the Iraqi Kurds had such high hopes! They had their own army (the militia “Peshmerga”), its oil, its money. Erbil (capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) was considered one of the strongest regional players. Now, however, Baghdad (or rather, perhaps, a senior partner and ally of Iraq — Iran) showed who’s boss. Units of the Iraqi army with the support of the Shiite militias Hashd al-SHAABI launched an operation against the Kurds and was able to free them from those areas actually outside Iraqi Kurdistan, which the Kurds have occupied since the summer of 2014. The most painful was the loss of important from a symbolic point of view the city of Kirkuk, and also the most important from a material point of view of oil fields located around the city.
Despite the fact that formally the crisis is not yet complete, it is already possible to sum it up and give earrings to all the participating sisters. So, in the camp of the losers, of course, the Kurdish side. Iraqi Kurdistan not just failed to realize his task, but left him with serious losses. The September referendum was to legalise all territorial gains in Iraq, but instead the Kurds have even lost de facto control over them. The referendum also led to the fact that the Kurds have been feuding with the most important foreign policy partner Turkey.
Thanks to agreements with the Turkish President Sultan Erdogan, the Iraqi Kurds would not depend on Iraqi logistics. They used Turkish territory for transit of oil on the international market, and also received from Turkey all products, starting from food and ending with industrial goods. But Erdogan has described the referendum as a blow to the back and made a series of threats against the Kurds, starting from a trade embargo and ending the invasion. Most likely, the Turkish transit will continue, however, its reliability has been called into question.
In addition to the Iraqi Kurdistan, the losers were its President, Massoud Barzani. For anybody not a secret that the story of the referendum was started by Mr. Barzani not only for the realization of long cherished dream of the Kurds, but also to strengthen their own positions in Iraqi Kurdistan and enhance your own credibility. The defeat in this story not only led to the collapse of authority, but also to the emergence of an open opposition in the face of Talabani clan, headed by “the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan”.
These forces come to an agreement with the Iraqi authorities (as a result, true “patriots” units of the Peshmerga left their positions at Kirkuk just before the attack by Iraqi troops, thereby exposing the front) and the outcome of collusion can gain control of part of Kurdistan.
The Iraqi military near the city of Erbil during the conflict with the Kurdish armed forces Peshmerga in Kirkuk
The first battle of the Iran-American war
Another loser was kind of like the allies of the Iraqi Kurds, the United States. During this crisis, Washington has sold out their allies the Kurds to Baghdad. First, because in no way prevented the Iraqi attack and that the Americans knew about the planned Baghdad blitzkrieg, it is hard to believe.
“The Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi would not attack without notice of the United States,” — said David Phillips, who dealt with Iraq in the state Department for almost 30 years. On the eve of the offensive the Pentagon has urged the parties “to refrain from steps that could escalate the situation.” Secondly, because it is not supported the Kurds during the crisis, deciding, according to trump, “not taking sides”.
It is clear that Iraqi Kurds are partly to blame themselves — they had not heard Washington’s demand not to hold a referendum. However, the desire to punish the Kurds for disobedience led to the strategic defeat of the Americans.
The defeat is not that the world has seen the reliability of American guarantees their price all knew and to the present situation. And not even the fact that the Kurds accuse the US of betrayal, this is not the first time, and the Kurds will have to wipe because the other allies of the U.S. level, able to guarantee them at least the preservation of their autonomy, the Iraqi Kurds do not. And the fact that the United States clearly demonstrated their inability to follow their chosen course. Indeed, more recently, trump promised to start a grown-up to put Tehran on the place and even went for the sake of the rupture of the nuclear deal. The situation in Kurdistan was a classic version of the us-Iranian war on the periphery, because the actions of the Iraqi armed forces was the Iranians who wanted to solve the Kurdish issue and prevent it from becoming an independent Iraqi Kurdistan in the American bridgehead.
The bridgehead, which, for example, will be able to use U.S. intelligence agencies to destabilize the Kurdish provinces of Iran. And Americans not just lost the war — they surrendered to Iran in the very beginning. Who then in the middle East ready to support US in the conflict with Tehran?
In fact, the defeat of the United States was a victory of the Tehran — the Iranian side in General was one of the main beneficiaries of this crisis. “Americans give Iraq to the Iranians. To put it diplomatically, I can not” — outraged representative of the government of Barzani váchal Ali.
Moreover, Tehran has caused US hurt and destroy “the Kurdish bridgehead”, so he also demonstrated to all who can see the strength of the Iranian diplomacy. After all, Iran was a deal between Baghdad and Talabani clan — both literally and figuratively. The deal itself was agreed Talabani arrived for an Iranian General Kassem Suleimani, the legendary middle Eastern person and a master of covert operations. And signed with the Iraqi side of the deal the representatives of Baghdad, and leaders of the Shiite militia Hashd al-SHAABI, which is backed by Iran. It turns out that it is Tehran, not Baghdad, guarantee Iraq’s compliance with their part of the bargain.
Employees of the militarized guard near oil refineries in Iraqi Kurdistan
Baghdad and Moscow — win
However, by the Iraqis themselves, it is difficult to complain — they are also in the list of direct beneficiaries. Baghdad managed to regain control of key territory and major oil fields of Kirkuk and thus obtain a source of replenishment. In addition, they have caused significant and perhaps even critical blow to Kurdish separatism. The Iraqis played very carefully. First, the military actions of the Iraqi army was conducted only in those areas that the Peshmerga illegally overcame in recent years and trying to incorporate Iraqi Kurdistan. It turns out that Baghdad has just taken its toll.
Second, immediately after the liberation of these territories, the Iraqi Prime Minister invited the Kurdish President to resolve all remaining disagreements at the negotiating table, knowing full well that after a successful military operation, the Kurds will be in a weak bargaining position. And strengthen her it will be very difficult Peshmerga may be plenty to talk about readiness to return to Kirkuk by force, but that opportunities for the Kurds a bit. It is not surprising that the government of Iraqi Kurdistan has already shown a willingness to conduct such negotiations.
Naturally, the Kurds will draw conclusions from everything, and therefore one of the beneficiaries can be considered to be Moscow. It’s not even that, left in isolation, the Kurds will be willing to “rent” the Russian military-political umbrella in exchange for oil contracts that have already concluded. And not even the fact that stretching from Kurdistan to the American company (the same Chevron, which has suspended work in the Kurdish fields), to make room for Russian business. And that the correct conclusions will not only Iraqi Kurds, but the Syrian. Then consider whether now in Alliance with the United States to play against Russia’s interests in Deir ez-Zor (and thus the bases for the Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Turkish blow without security guarantees from the United States). That, in turn, will allow Moscow faster to celebrate the triumph in the Syrian campaign. The Kurdish question