Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 20, 2007

Kurd Infighting - US-China Proxy War?

A followup an my recent Kurdistan post. There might be geopolitics behind the U.S. support for Turkey to bomb north Iraq.

The very next day after those bombings and Turkish incursions, the north Iraq (kurdistan?) 'premier' Barzani agreed to move the constitutional demanded referendum over Kirkuk and its oil riches to some never-date.

Even though that very significant bow to U.S. demands was in an AFP release, no U.S. media I read (and I do read a lot of these) reported that point. This was some peace offer by Barzani to the U.S., but it was totally ignored. Why?

Barzani later didn't show up for a meeting with Rice who suddenly and unannounced dropped into Kirkuk, two days after the Turkish bombing and a day after Barzani's move.

I am not sure what really happened, but Juan Cole's crude conspiracy theory on this is definitely  wrong. He somewhat assumes that Cheney told the Turks to bomb because the shooter wanted to sabotage Rice's visit. Cole still desperately wants to see Rice as a 'realist' conned by the neos. Dear Juan, realists don't confuse birth pangs with cluster bombs - end of that discussion.

Here is my speculation.

Talabani, the current president of Iraq and also a Kurdish clan and party leader, did meet with Rice despite the U.S. supported bombing by the Turks.

Back in 1996 Barzani cooperated with Saddam Hussein to fight Talabani and his party. In 2001 Talabani worked with Turkey against the anti-Turkish Kurd PKK guerilla Barzani supported.

Still, after Saddam was gone, the U.S. somewhat liked Barzan:

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to welcome President Barzani of the Kurdistan regional government of Iraq to the Oval Office. He's a man of courage; he's a man who has stood up to a tyrant.

He did? Well, that's over with. Suddenly there is war on Barzani. Today at the National Review's corner - neocon central - Michael Rubin laments over Barzani's censorship laws:

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani rejects a new press law on the grounds that any criticism should be constructive. That which he decides is not constructive, for example, articles that question the opacity of Barzani's financial practices, may saddle newspapers, editors, and journalists with large fines.

Rubin's real issue is not some censorship laws, (I don't remember him writing about censorship or corruption in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or elsewhere), but to make an attack on Barzani.

Hmm - Turkey bombs Barzani's state with U.S. help. He bows towards the U.S., but gets rejected. The neocons campaign against him.

Could this be the reason?

On May 15, chairman of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Massoud Barzani met the Chinese Ambassador to Iraq and the Embassy’s economic and trade counselor. On behalf of his government, the ambassador invited Barzani to visit China.

It's a two years old piece, but just imagine Brazani getting into business with the Chinese. They have supported an independent Kurdistan and the (pseudo-)marxist PKK since 1975 or so - just like the Barzani clan. The Chinese want oil-contracts whereever they can get them.

There is much money to be made in contracts over resources in and around the Kurd semi-state. The Chinese want as many projects as possible and are friendly with the PKK and Barzani. The U.S. wants all contracts it can get and is friendly with Talabani and the Turks.

Talabani is (temporarily) orientated towards the U.S. His son is the official lobbyist for Kurdistan in Washington D.C., spreading the dough wherever he feels he needs to.

Talabani offers a deal on the condition that he gets an exclusive to rule north Iraq? Maybe. His son 'seeds' think tank opinons in Washington DC. Rubin workes for the American Enterprise Institute and writes against Barzani.

Geopolitic resource fights established as local proxy wars through manipulation of local rivalties?

It's quite a guess I am making here, but it certainly wouldn't be the first of such proxy fights.

Posted by b on December 20, 2007 at 23:51 UTC | Permalink


It could be retribution for dealing with China, payback for dissin' the local Ottoman scions, and the Cheneyburton faction of the Company showing the Rice/ Gates/ Poppy faction what they think of all that pussyfooting diplomacy.

Feints within feints.

Posted by: kelley b. | Dec 21 2007 2:31 utc | 1


Jan 2008 90.95 -0.29
Feb 2008 90.84 -0.34

Neo-Zi's have to flog Kirkuk and Basra, or lose $10M's a day in oil
revenues, ultimately $100M's a day if crude oil drops back any more.
Their downside risk is huge that oil will settle back to $65-$75, its
true supply:demand normative value, which will translate to losses
for new oil exploration, which will translate into lower share price
for Halliburton, translating into lower deferred salary, bonuses
and stock options for the Bush-Rice-Cheney-Powell-Quayle cabal.

HAL off 10% since November 1st's tipping point. Kirkuk? Nothing. Oops!

You want to understand Iraq, watch the oil futures market moves.
The last 12 months run up in crude oil price was oil cartel speculators
diverting carry-trade money into oil futures hedges. Housing got tackled,
now it's up to oil to carry the carry trade that Fed/EBC is liberaling up.

Anything else you posit is superfluous personality cultism, just idle
cocktail party gossip people use to fill their awkward vapid silences.
"Don Rumsfeld is a WA DC stud! Oh, and Massoud Barzani has a big d--k!"

That, and pocket change, gets you some dark-plastic Chinese gew-gaws.

Posted by: Romley Dinkens | Dec 21 2007 3:47 utc | 2

Astute and plausible, b. I've been wondering about the "US-assisted" Turk. attack, the Rice visit, etc. I don't see your analysis repudiated in any way by RD's comments in 2 (as I read 2, anyway) but as complementary. It is after all about controlling the oil, keeping prices high, greed, manipulation, getting the goodies.

Posted by: Hamburger | Dec 21 2007 11:33 utc | 3

Better to have Turks fighting Kurds in Kurdistan than in the streets of Düsseldorf...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 21 2007 12:19 utc | 4

I am not sure what really happened, but Juan Cole's crude conspiracy theory on this is definitely wrong. He somewhat assumes that Cheney told the Turks to bomb because the shooter wanted to sabotage Rice's visit. Cole still desperately wants to see Rice as a 'realist' conned by the neos. Dear Juan, realists don't confuse birth pangs with cluster bombs - end of that discussion.

W/all due respect B., I don't think Cole said that. From Juan's post:

Look, it is absolutely impossible that Condi plans out a trip to Kirkuk and a meeting with Barzani with full knowledge that while she is there, Turkey will send 500 Turkish soldiers into northern Iraq to occupy the villages of Kaya Retch Binwak, Janarok and Gelly Resh. Or even that when she set out on her trip, she knew that Turkey was planning to bomb Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday, killing 3, wounding 8, and displacing 300 Kurdish villagers.

IMO, Cole's point is well taken: Condi likes coreographed public events as much as her love.. err, boss. Can't see her going into eye of storm for a photo op. That she was kept in the dark, however ridiculous that makes State Dept. look... hard to come to any other conclusion.

IMO, I think given current chaos in that area, China being the puppet master is a real longshot. They're doing just fine right now securing energy/fuel contracts.

As aside, one of major disrupting, time wasting consequences of GWB admin's activities, across the board, is the constant effort required looking through opaque lense into their true actions, motivations and intents. It is always a guessing game.

Posted by: jdmckay | Dec 22 2007 0:40 utc | 5

Turkey Bombs Kurds in Iraq; 2 Sides Differ on Casualties

In its third large cross-border attack into Iraq within a week, Turkey said Saturday that its warplanes had killed hundreds of separatist Kurdish rebels.

A statement from the military said that the air attack, which lasted less than half an hour, was followed by an artillery barrage on the same area from nearby units in Turkey. The military said that Kurdish P.K.K. rebels were based in the area, and that the government would provide video and audio details of the operation later in the week.
The United States has supported Turkey’s strikes at the P.K.K., which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization, and has said it would offer intelligence information to help in the operations. But American officials have tried to discourage large-scale attacks into Iraq, fearing that they could further weaken the Iraqi government.

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2007 7:02 utc | 6

The comments to this entry are closed.