Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 28, 2005

Kurdish Problems

Reading the recent reports by Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder, there is a growing possibility of a civil war about Kirkuk, a city of 300,000 in northern Iraq and the capital of an oil rich province.

Lasseter talks to Iraqi troops in that area and finds many of them consisting of intact Kurdish Peschmerga units. Units who are willing to take on the Arabs when those do not agree to integrate Kirkuk into a Kurdish statelet - which they may well not do.

There are several long term problems for the Kurds themselves to go into this direction. Though, unfortunately, the do not seem to give them enough thought.

The Kurds in north Iraq are seperated in two groups of tribes. One is today represented by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan lead by Talabani, the other by Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party. These two have had bloody fights over years and only the current need of unity keeps them away from fighting again. As soon as there would be some independent form of Kurdistan, a new inner Kurdish civil war between those groups would start again.

A landlocked Kurdish state of some kind could produce a lot of oil, but how would this oil reach the markets, especially Israel? The neighbors Turkey, Iran and Syria all have Kurdish minorities and have no reason to help a Kurdish state to enrich itself and see that money funneled to their unruly minorities. After grabbing Kirkuk, the Arab rest of Iraq will also not likely support pipelines for then Kurdish oil.

Turkey, through its GAP project, has control over a big chunk of water running down the Tigris through the Kurdish area and then to South Iraq. The rest of the Tigris' water is collected from the mountains in the Kurdish area. Thereby both the Turks and the Kurds are able to control the waterflow into the Baghdad area and into south Iraq. The Arab Iraki of course recognize this as a problem and I wonder how far they may go to keep the river flowing.

Then there is of course the biggest problem. A four million Kurdish state in northern Iraq would entice 15 million Kurds in Turkey to go for their own state too. No way the Turks will allow that to happen. The minority of Turkmen living in and around Kirkuk may conveniently call for "help" and the Turkish Army is resourceful enough to bring northern Iraq under their short term control.

How would the Arabs, not only from Iraqi, react to the rise of a new Osmanic empire?

Is there no good solution?

Posted by b on December 28, 2005 at 02:05 PM | Permalink

Comments

I'm afraid it's too late for a good solution. The religious Shia are the dominant political force in Iraq but they can't govern without coalition partners - if even then. The Shia political leaders are feeling out to the Kurds to see if that is possible.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the United Iraqi Alliance dominating the current government, traveled to the northern Kurdish city of Irbil for the meeting with Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region.

"We held preliminary consultations," al-Hakim said at a joint news conference with Barzani on Tuesday. "All the details need to be studied and we need to evaluate the previous alliance and study its weaknesses and strengths. Then we will try to include the others."

Preliminary results from the Dec. 15 vote have given the United Iraqi Alliance a big lead, but one unlikely to allow it to govern without forming a coalition with other groups. Final results are expected early next month, but the Shiite religious bloc may win about 130 seats in the 275-member parliament - short of the 184 seats needed to avoid a coalition with other parties.

So, the primary hope for avoiding civil war seems to rest in the possibility of an alliance between the religious Shia and the Kurds with the hope that the enough Sunni will
go along to make it viable. However, there are considerable tensions between the rank and file Arabs and Kurds (to say nothing of the Turkmen) that make a long term partnership tenuous at best as this anecdotal article indicates:

"If the Kurds want to separate from Iraq it's OK, as long as they keep their present boundaries," said Sgt. Hazim Aziz, an Arab soldier who was stubbing out a cigarette in a barracks room. "But there can be no conversation about them taking Kirkuk. ... If it becomes a matter of fighting, then we will join any force that fights to keep Kirkuk. We will die to keep it."

Kurdish soldiers in the room seethed at the words.

"These soldiers do not know anything about Kirkuk," Capt. Ismail Mahmoud, a former member of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, said as he got up angrily and walked out of the room. "There is no other choice. If Kirkuk does not become part of Kurdistan peacefully we will fight for 100 years to take it."

It will take skillful leadership to prevent these natural social fault lines from breaking out into open war.

But none of these troubles have impeded progress on the main front as BushCo now has it's favorite shyster set to take a key position.

Meanwhile, Iraqi oil officials quoted by Dow Jones said yesterday that the deputy prime minister Ahmed Chalabi would take over the oil ministry, replacing Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, who has taken a month’s leave.

Not bad for a guy who couldn't pull 1% of the vote despite US funding. And, his good buddy Paul Wolfowitz has been busy as well:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $685 million loan for Iraq on December 24. Now the country’s war torn economy will be fully integrated into the global economy -- indefinitely....

Iraq will not be sovereign or independent in the near future, even if President Bush says so. The country’s financial future will instead be dictated by a new colossal economic occupation, complete with ground forces, tanks, foreign military bases and the like -- all thanks to the United States, Britain and the IMF.

The new loans will soon be the focus of Iraq's future "economic stability."

.....

"This arrangement will underpin economic stability and help lay the foundation for an open and prosperous economy in Iraq," Treasury Secretary John Snow said in an announcement shortly after the loan was approved. Translation: Iraq will soon be open for business.

Now the IMF will be able to dictate how best Iraq can pay back its ever increasing debt, putting its recovery in the hands of others, while the US reaps the benefits. If it's to pump millions more barrels of oil every year, Iraq will be forced to do it. And in fact, increased oil production is at the heart of the IMF’s plan for Iraq.

In a statement released last week, the IMF reported that Iraq’s new government planned to allocate resources next year to expanding oil production as part of a broad economic scheme put forward by the IMF, with the hope of putting Iraq’s economy on an upward trajectory. In other words, Iraq will be forced to start drilling for more oil.

Funny how the MSM talked of Wolfowitz' move to the IMF as though he was no longer a player. Anyway, if the Sunni, Shia and Kurds notice that they are being robbed as well as tortured and killed, they might find common ground after all.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Dec 28, 2005 7:46:07 PM | 1

Yeah well we can hope that the Iraqi people as opposed to the USA dependant elite wake up and put a stop to all this. Say what you like about Saddam Hussein but he would rather have cut off his arm than betray Iraqi sovereignty or allow this ancient nation be cut up into pieces. The only thing the current mob had going for them was that they weren't repressing, torturing and murdering Iraqi citizens. Now that baby has gone with the bathwater, a truly neutral observer would have to say that the lot of the average iraqi was considerably better under Hussein.

Sure the Sunni got a better deal than anyone else but shia, xtians and kurds were included in senior government positions and although the lot of shia was not as great as the sunni, the deal that the shia got under saddam was considerably better than anyone esp women get now.

Of course once this becomes the commonly accepted wisdom BushCo will merely come up with another rationalisation for their invasion and genocide. Maybe they'll get smart and tell the truth. ie OIL. I still believe that most in the west would agree to trading other peoples' freedoms for oil. Of course it would be neccessary to give a little camouflage to it like the war on Hiv or avian flu. An aim which was outwardly benign but gave sufficient cause to allow control of certain places to implement oil access mastery.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 28, 2005 10:11:02 PM | 2

thanks lonesomeG for catching that bit about our buddy ahmad "US companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil" chalabi taking the reigns of the oil ministry. recommend that people review the "crude designs" report at the link if they already haven't. doesn't sound like more oil production is going to do anything for iraqi's or their govt:


...only 17 of Iraq’s 80 known fields are currently in production. As these 17 fields represent only 40 billion of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves, the policy to allocate undeveloped fields to foreign companies would give those companies control of 64% of known reserves. If a further 100 billion barrels are found, as is widely predicted, the foreign companies could control as much as 81% of Iraq's oil; if 200 billion are found, as the Oil Ministry predicts, the foreign company share would be 87%.

Given that oil accounts for over 95% of Iraq’s government revenues, the impact of this policy on Iraq’s economy would be enormous.

. . .

Using an average oil price of $40 per barrel, our projections reveal that the use of PSAs would cost Iraq between $74 billion and $194 billion in lost revenue, compared to keeping oil development in public hands.

This massive loss is the equivalent of $2,800 to $7,400 per Iraqi adult over the thirty-year lifetime of a PSA contract. By way of comparison Iraqi GDP currently stands at only $2,100 per person, despite the very high oil price.

. . .

Our figures show that under any of the three sets of PSA terms, oil company profits from investing in Iraq would be quite staggering, with annual rates of return ranging from 42% to 62% for a small field, or 98% to 162% for a large field. This shows that under PSAs, Iraq's loss in terms of government revenue will be the oil companies’ gain.

Posted by: b real | Dec 28, 2005 11:02:13 PM | 3

Maureen Dowd buries the lede (via Free Democracy blog):


For two years, the Pentagon has been sitting on a request from The Times's Jeff Gerth to cough up a secret 500-page document prepared by Halliburton on what to do with Iraq's oil industry - a plan it wrote several months before the invasion of Iraq, and before it got a no-bid contract to implement the plan (and overbill the U.S.).


The Times' has known about this plan for 2 years? Anybody else hear about this?

Posted by: Vin Carreo | Dec 29, 2005 2:53:16 AM | 4

Capt. Greg Ford, the First Brigade's intelligence officer, estimated that 85,000 to 350,000 Kurds had moved into the Kirkuk region since spring 2003. The result is a building boom in Kirkuk itself and along the main roads leading to the border of Iraqi Kurdistan. In Altun Kopri, a Kurd-Turkmen village 15 miles northwest of Kirkuk, new homes constructed in slapdash fashion line dirt tracks. White pickup trucks with Kurdistan flags roll through. "The construction is just huge," said Maj. Victor Vasquez, the head civil affairs officer for the First Brigade. "I've seen entire villages that didn't exist before spring up from rubble. It's a suburb of Kirkuk overnight."

"There's some funding from the Kurdish parties in terms of the housing," he added. "That's a fair assessment. A lot of it is also private business standing up."

Kurds Are Flocking to Kirkuk, Laying Claim to Land and Oil

Posted by: b | Dec 29, 2005 2:59:07 AM | 5

It looks like the Shia won Iraq with the ballot box, compliments of Uncle Sam. The Kurds know this and want to fuck off from an Islamic theocracy, meanwhile the Sunni will blow up everything in sight.

Sadr is key now, he must stop the Kurdish move and enlist the help of the USA.

Going to plan GWB, what a clusterfuck.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 29, 2005 4:52:14 AM | 6

Another brillant blunder by Mr Wolfowitz.....loaning all that money to a country thats not going to exsist in 12 to 24 months.

He once claimed the war would be financed by Iraq's oil production...he no doubt is using the same rational to justify this loan. The big problem is that the oilfields are located in the future Kurdistan and the Pro Iraianian dominated south. What will be left of Iraq after the shooting stops will have no oil production.

Posted by: Mr Avid | Dec 29, 2005 5:46:52 AM | 7

@Vin,

The stories of the Cheney government making maps and plans for Iraqs oil fields before even 9/11 has been fairly well established in the alternative press, I believe, but hasn't made it into the major publications. The bit about Halliburton being in on it is new to me, but only in the sense that I hadn't seen the name specifically mentioned. Given that they seem to be little more than an extension of the US government, but one that'll give Cheney big bucks later, it's no surprise to see the corruption thrive yet again.

Is this normal corruption, or did the Bushies take it above and beyond? I mean, congressmen stepping in and out of lobbying roles after they stop being in congress is normal, and at least somewhat understandable. But throwing every reconstruction contract to your old company, from Iraq to Katrina? It's incredible - I don't know which would annoy me more, if this were par for the course in the presidency, or if the Bushies really were that special.

Posted by: Rowan | Dec 29, 2005 6:41:05 AM | 8

@Rowan

Par for the course is bad enough but I think the Bush's really are that "special." Read Dynasty by Kevin Phillips if you haven't already for some Bush background. W's paternal grandfather was founder of a castings company in Ohio and served on the Munitions Board during WWI where he came into contact with the Walker's banking connections. Prescott, W's grandfather, married George Herbert Walker's favorite daughter and his father-in-law brought him into banking where he was the stateside money connection for Fritz Thyssen. WWI was the incubus for the MI complex, bringing arms dealers and bankers together to find out just how much money they could make. They learned more by watching and participating in the Nazi build-up and Preston and Walker were right there. The MI complex really took off during WWII. After WWII, young GHWB went west to make his fortune in oil and Prescott went into politics. So, now we add GHWB's new oil connections to Prescott's new political connections which are added to the family's bank and arms dealer connections. GHWB later benefited by his father's political connections when he started his own political career, then added his own political cronnies to the family mix. When GHWB became head of the CIA, the brew was complete; dozens of ex-CIA types worked on Bush's 1980 campaign and some became VP staffers. Phillips thinks it was the CIA connections that pulled off arms-for-hostages and Iran-contra.

So, there you have it. Banks, arms dealers, oil, spooks and political influence all in one family. Pretty special, eh?

Posted by: lonesomeG | Dec 29, 2005 8:06:17 AM | 9

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR [Halliburton] represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, [Bunnatine H. Greenhouse] said at the Democratic forum.

Since Halliburton was involved in the planning for the war before it even got the contract, this makes sense. I sure would like to see those energy task force documents. Exactly how far back does this collusion go?

Posted by: Vin Carreo | Dec 29, 2005 6:38:37 PM | 10

"See, I have a plan. And my plan is for success. We will not leave until - until we have success. That's my plan. And I think the American people want a strong leader with a firm plan. See, I'm that guy. I'm the guy with the plan." - Bush on Larry King Live, 8/12/04

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30, 2005 12:29:55 AM | 11

The comments to this entry are closed.