Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 16, 2017

Iraq - Thus Ends The Kurdish Independence Project

Today the Iraqi government took Kirkuk back from occupying Kurdish forces. This marks the end of the Kurdish independence project in Iraq.

in 2014 the Islamic State occupied Mosul.  At the same time the regional Kurdish government under Masoud Barzani sent its Peshmerga troops to take the oil rich city of Kirkuk from the collapsing forces of the central Iraqi government. There were plausible allegations and some evidence (vid) that the Kurds had made a deal with ISIS and coordinated the move.

In 2016 and 2017 Iraqi forces defeated ISIS in Mosul. Kurdish groups took the opportunity of the ISIS defeat to occupy further land, even as that did not have a Kurdish majority population and did not belong to their autonomous region.


The red lined area is the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq as accepted by the Iraqi constitution. The red dotted line is the additional area the Kurds intended to take and at times controlled.

The Iraqi government insisted that the situation be turned back to the pre-2014 lines. The vast majority of the people in Kirkuk are Arab and Turkmen. Kirkuk produces two-third of all oil in north-Iraq. There was not a chance that any central government of Iraq would leave the city and these riches to Kurdish occupiers. The central government move to reassert federal authority is backed by parliament decisions and was announced in a press conference on Tuesday.


But the Kurdish leaders did neither think nor listen. The leading Barzani clan and his KDP party, long associated with Israel, tried to solidify their resource robbery. On September 25 they held an "independence referendum" in all areas under their control. All countries, except Israel, spoke out against this move.

But Barzani was urged on by the Zionists and international neo-conservatives:

Bernard-Henri Lévy meeting Masoud Barzani - September 30 2017 - bigger

As I remarked at the time of that meeting:

This is the death sentence for the Kurdish independence project. No cause [Bernard-Henri Lévy] supported has ever had a happy ending.

Egged on, Barzani continued his path. He threatened to proclaim Kurdish independence from the Iraqi state.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi could not condone such an unconstitutional insurrection. He sent his troops to restore the 2014 lines of control, starting with the oil rich areas around Kirkuk. During the last three days the Iraqi army, national police and counter-terrorism units, all hardened by the fight against the Islamic State, were marched onto Kirkuk. An ultimatum was issued for the Kurdish Peshmerga to leave the area. Barzani insisted on staying. He even called in PKK fighters from Turkey to help him keep the city.

Last night the inevitable happened. The Iraqi government forces moved forward and, after a few skirmishes, the Kurdish Peshmerga ran away. It is not clear who, if anyone, ordered them to retreat. Some Peshmerga units arrested other Peshmerga units. No one seemed to be in command.

As of now the Iraqi government is back in control at the Kirkuk airport, the military garrisons and the oil fields and refinery installations. Kirkuk city itself is untouched. There are reports that everyone associated with the Kurdish regional government is moving out.

The U.S., which had provided both sides with weapons and training, had no real idea what was going on and took no side. Without U.S. support the Kurdish forces had no air-support and no chance to win any fight. Kirkuk is lost for them and the other areas they occupied since 2014 will follow.

Barzani has lost his high stake gamble.

The dreams of an independent Kurdistan in Iraq have just been buried again. Masoud Barzani's position has been weakened significantly. This huge blunder might cost him his head. The Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has gained in standing and is now in position to win next years election.

These events will also have consequences for the Kurdish position in Syria. They demonstrate that they can not hope for continued U.S. support and will have to reconcile with the Syrian government. The idea of some autonomous or even independent Kurdish entity in Syria is, as of today, also dead.

Posted by b on October 16, 2017 at 8:38 UTC | Permalink


Until the various Middle Eastern sects and groups learn that they are being divided and conquered by external forces that sell them weapons and buy their US dollar donominated oil they will continue to repeat the same stupid mistakes ass their forefathers.

Posted by: Madmen | Oct 16 2017 8:49 utc | 1

You can expect Mossad or CIA to send in more ISIS fighters to the region, both to northern Iraq, to weaken and undermine the position of the Iraqi government, and to Iraqi Kurdistan proper. The chaos-loving Zionists are not going away without a fight.

Posted by: Quintus Sertorius | Oct 16 2017 9:20 utc | 2

the ones who committed crimes against the Turkmen and Asyrians will probably flee to EU, Germany and Austria particularly. is the EU prepared?

Posted by: papa | Oct 16 2017 9:24 utc | 3

I think it would be premature to call the fall of Kirkuk as the definite sign of the empire's intention. The US is pushing for war with Iran and anything that furthers that agenda will do even if it means giving Abadi some leeway in Iraq. Similarly, just because the US "abandoned" Barzani doesn't mean they will do the same in Syria.
While I welcome the latest moves in Iraq as it will hopefully solidify Baghadad's control over the country, Kurdish independence movement is far from over and will be continuously used by the Anglo-Zionist entity when need arises.

Posted by: Alexander P | Oct 16 2017 9:25 utc | 4

Anything can happen going forward.

But as of today, Iraq and Iran are clear winners with Russia and Syria are behind them.

Erdogan and Turkey are clear losers (Kurdistan might be dead but Kirkuk under Iran influence is clear threat to Turkish influence (!) in Kirkuk.

Posted by: Truist | Oct 16 2017 9:25 utc | 5

Iran's Top General Meets With Kurdish President Barzani As U.S. Neocons Push For War

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 16 2017 9:58 utc | 6

The Iraqi government forces moved forward and, after a few skirmishes, the Kurdish Peshmerga ran away.
Although I don't follow Twitter, my understanding was that the city of Kirkuk has not yet fallen.

I'm not surprised if the Peshmerga ran. If you don't get paid, you don't fight. They've run away on a good number of occasions, but it's always hushed up in the MSM (because Kurds are noble, aren't they?). They don't fight if they're not heavily supported by air-strikes, but I don't see the US coming in on Erbil's side. On the other hand, as I suggested yesterday, things may be done under the table to slow the Iraqis down. The Kurds will really be up the creek, if they lose the Kirkuk oil-fields.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16 2017 10:16 utc | 7

...and the Council on Foreign Relations eats some more shit, err, i mean, crow.

Posted by: john | Oct 16 2017 10:35 utc | 8

The Kurds are not a homogenous group.

General Fadhil Barwari ("Golden division"), one of the top Iraqi military leaders in the Kirkuk action, is an ethnic Kurd.

Some Kurds were active members of ISIS, taking part in executions of prisoners.

Posted by: Anonymous | Oct 16 2017 11:18 utc | 9

AS for the position in Syria, the means to deal with the Kurds/SDF has already been established. They either renounce violence and seek a peaceful solution or get herded into an area where they can be reduced to dust if necessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | Oct 16 2017 11:25 utc | 10

Since Mosul, there has been very little action in Iraq against ISIS, I take it due to Iraq having to counter Barzani. The Barzani territory grab and referendum - a little more US bullshit to prolong the existance of ISIS?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 16 2017 11:40 utc | 11

Anonymous | Oct 16, 2017 7:18:23 AM | 9
The Kurds are not a homogenous group.

That is important to understand; the Kurds are tools; to be used by the U.S. to meet the U.S.'s ends and no more.
During the Iraq/Iran war the Kurds were encouraged to revolt; they did; and were gassed by Saddam. The U.S. did nothing to support the Kurds; many thousands died.
For whatever reason the Kurds still work with/for the U.S. is a mystery to this one.
Are they stupid, greedy...or what?
Truly, I do not understand their motives; and, once again, they are being betrayed; a culture of victims???????

Posted by: V. Arnold | Oct 16 2017 11:56 utc | 12

would love it if you could identify everyone in that picture.
(Levy and Kouchner, we already know about)

Posted by: chris m | Oct 16 2017 12:02 utc | 13


Which side will the U.S. take? A war is staring in Iraq and Syria between the Kurds and just about everyone else. In Iraq the U.S. is training, arming, and supporting both the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Peshmerga. Is Syria they support both the Kurds and the anti-Kurdish fake FSA.

Even Finland is involved, a 100 strong Finnish unit is embedded with the Peshmerga as trainers and advisers. Except that part of the unit may now be embedded with the government forces.

Adam Garrie speculates that "Iraqi Kurds’ unwillingness to negotiate with Baghdad, indicates they are banking on foreign support"

Is there any logic in this? The U.S. logic seems to be to strengthen the Iraqi Kurds so they will weaken the Iraqi army which will strengthen ISIS to weaken the Syrian SAA which will give and edge to U.S. proxies, the Syrian Kurds. At play today, the Omar oilfields in ISIS-held Syria. From WaPo yesterday:

Iraqi forces launch operation for Kurdish-held oil fields, military base

Earlier in the day Col. Ryan Dillon, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad had described the situation as “stable” but said the “heightened tension” was distracting from the fight against Islamic State militants.

After recapturing the city of Hawija, Iraqi forces were supposed to deploy to the borders with Syria to stamp out the last pockets controlled by Islamic State militants.

The latest:

It looks like the Iraqi forces are advancing. RT reports:

Iraqi troops have captured several key Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled positions near Kirkuk and continue to advance, Reuters reports, citing the Iraqi military. Earlier, troops deployed to secure Kirkuk clashed with Kurds in the disputed area.

The Iraqi armed forces gained control of roads and infrastructure near Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters, including the North Gas Company station, a nearby oil processing plant, and the industrial district south of the city. The military also captured Kirkuk’s K-1 Air Base from Kurdish forces, a military statement says, according to Reuters.

But where did the Western mainstream media go? Are they hiding their heads in the sand? Google prioritizes "Fake News" and "Russian disinformation" in their top stories section. The three top stories for the search "Peshmerga" on Google just now are from 1) rudaw - Kurdish propaganda 2) RT - Russian propaganda 3) Al Masdar News - another source for "Russian disinformation" and "fake news".

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 16 2017 12:04 utc | 14

As long as their "friends" tell them they have the bigger one, it won't change.

Posted by: Mina | Oct 16 2017 12:06 utc | 15

Even the BBC is now saying the Peshmerga have done a runner.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16 2017 12:15 utc | 16

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16, 2017 8:15:08 AM | 16

Which shows intelligence. German radio reports that Kirkuk Peshmerga are/were members of close to Iran PUK.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 16 2017 12:30 utc | 17

@11 Peter AU 1
Actually, Iraqi troops spent the last month reducing the sizable Hawija pocket, which ISIS hold close to Kurdish lines and to Kirkuk itself. IAF and PMU obviously didn't want to face a rear-attack by ISIS before dealing with Kirkuk. And odds are that some troops who took part in the Hawija cleaning up are involved on the Kirkuk front right now.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Oct 16 2017 13:10 utc | 18

Perhaps this might well and rightly curb aspects of the greater Isreal and Turkey oil scams during this period when for example Syria lost 32 billion in underpriced oil that ended up being sold cheaply to provide and cover Isreal and others export of weapons in the region to many of the opposition groups.Obviously it was not all their money in the game.

Posted by: Glen Etzkorn | Oct 16 2017 13:29 utc | 19

Just going to throw in my tuppence worth and run! ))

In my humble opinion what we are seeing is a two-fold position against Kurdish forces.
In Iraq we are seeing the true nature of the Erdogan (US?) / Barzani game unfolding to facilitate open conflict with PKK / HPG in Kirkuk: Barzani hiking up his skirts and legging it as he did in Mosul, Sinjar etc - always has been a Turkish/ ISIS / US useful turncoat, and he has done it again – facilitating the divide and conquer of the 'Kurds'. (Interestingly, many of our respected independent pundits have played their biased role in this game deliberately conflating the various Kurdish groups as one 'Kurds' - even Magnier was talking about how Kurds fled Sinjar allowing him to avoid clarifying that Peshmerga fled, PKK fought and liberated!! A very malicious and systematic demonization of the Kurds has been carried out recently by mass media and independent media alike (There are exceptions, of course) I too want to see the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq but that does not equate with having to perpetuate the decades old persecution of ethnic groups!!)

In Idlib, we see a holding position against YPG etc. - As Erdogan puts it 'to prevent a terrorist corridor' same thing he said when he was given the green-light to move into Jerablus and when Erdogan says 'terrorist' we must be clear that he means Fetocular and Kurds! ISIS are always identified separately! Having lost badly in the Syria, his focus is to ensure that his war against the Kurds is fought anywhere but on Turkish soil, and this is what we are seeing again. As for Al Qaeda, it is so inherently linked to Muslim Brotherhood that Erdogan will never turn on them. It goes beyond ideology to mafia / business dealings lets not foget.
Russia’s silence, (?) is not surprising, I have to say. It supports territorial integrity and I think, some kind of federal or power-sharing solution in Syria, probably Iraq as well. To this end it is pragmatic to ensure a balance of powers at the negotiating table, and so we see the Astana agreement ‘holding position’ in Syria and the return to 2014 (?) Kurdish borders in Iraq.
Additionally, there was a very interesting letter / memo / article, not sure, by Davutoglu the other day calling for a freeze to the hostilities in Kirkuk and an equal power sharing agreement to be drawn up between the three parties reducing the majority Kurdish population to having no voice whatsoever! Laughable and typical Turkish bollocks. If I can find an English translation I shall post it here.
And can anyone verify Erdogan’s claim that US has agreed to halt the fight against ISIS in order to concentrate on Kirkuk?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 16 2017 13:38 utc | 20

"The vast majority of the people in Kirkuk are Turkmen and Arabs"
Turkmen have always been a small minority. Demographics have changed recently, granted, but not so significantly! This sentence is clearly intended to deceive.Next you'll be quoting Cavusoglu's "Kirkuk is 78% Turkmen"!

Who wrote this second piece?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 16 2017 14:10 utc | 21

US has already destroyed Iraq at least 3 times
1)1990s war;sanctions
2)2003 war
3) since 2003 "Arab spring/winter etc (via IsiS)

the ROW keeps trying to put Iraq back together again
;the US tries its damndest to keep the fire going

wherever there's a conflict in the world, US comes along and tries to make it even worse

Syria conflict was a dream come true

Posted by: chris m | Oct 16 2017 14:15 utc | 22


There's no systematic demonization of the Kurds. That's ridiculous. Just a little of the truth has been allowed to come out against massive pro-Kurdish propaganda on the MSM. You may like the Kurds in Turkey, but it's not the same in Iraq, with Syria somewhere in between.

You're wrong on what happened in 2014. The Peshmerga did do a runner, and shamefully abandoned the Yazidis (who are Kurds, don't forget). It was the Rojavans (not actually the PKK, but friends with), who crossed the border from Syria, went up the mountain and brought a lot of Yazidis down. The Kurds didn't come back until much later (2015, I think).

The Peshmerga have just repeated 2014 today. According to the BBC at midday, there are only local armed Kurds resisting the Iraqi advance. All this that happened in 2014 was effaced from the MSM. It won't be so easy this time.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16 2017 14:21 utc | 23

"But Barzani was urged on by the Zionists and international neo-conservatives"
Silly me. I had thought it wqs Turkey that had flown the Kurdistan flag at AtaTurk Airport to welcome Barzani! Immediately after the Erdogan / Barzani meeting the 'plan' was hatched: TNon Iraqi Turkmen appeared in Kirkuk the Turkmen flag raised against the PKK flag, Barzani started 'linking' Iraqi Kurdish hopes with PKK hopes creatibg a faux 'Kurdish bloc' which in fact did not exist, but began the 'cobflation' of different Kuridsh groups as one and the groundwork for the game now being played out was laid.

Only months before this meeting the independent media were lambasting Barzani for illegally remaining in power and praising those who demonstrated against him ... Everything changed with that Erdogan/ Barzani meeting.

Maybe Israel jumped on the bandwagon later, but only as a means to demonose the 'Kurds'. Any association with Osrael would kill any standing that the 'Kurds' had, surely.

It reminds me of the very ominous and concisely worded press conference held by then Turkish President Gul and newly elected Rouhani after their first and only meeting. They said that the two countries would be like France and Germany - still sont understand that one; and that there would be an ens to terrorism in the region. At that time I thought that Kurdush grouos would be in for a hiding! Of course,not Barzani though!

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 16 2017 14:24 utc | 24


"The vast majority of the people in Kirkuk are Turkmen and Arabs" WTF?

The Kurds are not majority either. They've been importing Kurds to settle in Kirkuk. What is clear is that the Kurds have no legal right to occupy Kirkuk. It's an occupation of Baghdad territory by force, which has been allowed so far (and apparently you are in favour of military conquest giving rights, although it's strictly forbidden in the UN). The Erbil Kurds have been allowed to carry out a lot of illegality recently, but like the Israelis, it'll remain illegitimate, and so temporary.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16 2017 14:28 utc | 25

The Kurds have put themselves into a vice by going in with the US.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Oct 16 2017 16:07 utc | 26


DAMASCUS, SYRIA (5:20 P.M.) – Moments ago, the Iraqi Armed Forces and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) imposed full control over the city of Kirkuk after surrounding it from three flanks, thereby prompting a mass retreat by a Kurdish Peshmerga garrison that narrowly avoided being encircled.

Hundreds of Humvees, BMP-1’s and technicals could be seen rolling towards the city centre around noon after entering Kirkuk from the city’s western and southern gates, prompting a mass exodus of civilians trying to flee towards Kurdish-held territory along the highway.

I'm quite surprised it was so fast. The US and Israel didn't have time to react.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 16 2017 16:51 utc | 27

thanks b for this important update.

and thank for for the many fine responses here @1-5 and laguerres comments in particular.

Posted by: james | Oct 16 2017 17:17 utc | 28

I take it Talabani’s PUK refused to engage ISF and left, leaving no choice for his rival Barzani’s KDP to fold as well.
A shrewd political move that may cost the illegitimae president his post. Its been 3 years since his mandate has expired..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 16 2017 18:11 utc | 29

(I had responded earlier but the post hasnt appeared ... So if it does later forgive the repetition)

Thanks for your comments. We dont actually seem to disagree on much. I'm not going to argue the Sinjar point because what I was trying to show was simply that Magnier's use of the collective noun Kurds was either lazy journalism or it was propaganda and that ls dissappointing. (Actually a wasgjngton post writer made exactly the same tweet only a week or so ago again she used the 'Kurds ran away from Sinjar' accusation. It is intentiinally disingenuous.) it has become very common for journalists to do the same recenetly and it can only be to smear all kurds with the actions of a few. (You yourself point out correctly to some extent that the situations of Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Syria are different. The actions of the different groups during this conflict have been very different!)

"The Kurds are not the majority either"

No. Indeed. They are not. Again my point was about the obvious intention to paint Turkmen as some kind of large population which plays directly into the current 3-way split proposals. Its ludicrous.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 16 2017 18:18 utc | 30

@27 "....prompting a mass exodus of civilians trying to flee...." Those would be Kurdish civilians no doubt. Some Kirkuk residents will be wanting their property back.

Posted by: dh | Oct 16 2017 18:48 utc | 31

@Laguerre | 25

"apparently you are in favour of military conquest giving rights"
Silly comment.
I could equally throw back that Kirkuk was 70% Kurd prior to the US invasion!
Forced demographic change by Iran and Turkey could also be thrown into the equation.
Where does that get us?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 16 2017 19:08 utc | 32

If Iraq or Syria needs helps with Barzani Goldberg and the dumb Kurds then call Hezbollah. Problem solved. Hezbollah will gladly get Iraq and Syria's oil back to them. They do not F**k around and they know who the Kurds are working for.

Posted by: Bozzy | Oct 16 2017 19:50 utc | 33

AtaBrit @20

Indeed a George Seldes fan? See
his classic Tell The Truth And Run

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 16 2017 20:12 utc | 34

Do you understand that when you R talking about the Kurds, that is talking about a great nation, Kurdistan is ancient Kordene in the anabasis very described by Herodotus, Xenophon.Kurds are older than today created states combined.

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 16 2017 20:27 utc | 35

Yep. Looks like part of PUK very wisely decided to leave Kirkuk.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 16 2017 21:00 utc | 36

'Zionists and international neo-conservatives:'

same thing

Posted by: brian | Oct 16 2017 21:25 utc | 37

Kurdish people pose no problem (nor do Turkish refugees) as there are already large communities in Europe - the routes go both ways back and to from Kurdistan or - to a lesser extent as not officially supported - Rojava.

There also has been - and presumably still is - considerable European/Western political and military support for Iraqi Kurdistan, even Rojava - simply as Kurdish people are the most Western friendly Middle Easterners politicians can find.

ERBIL — The Shi’ite militias of Hashd al-Shaabi, a sectarian armed group supported by Tehran and Baghdad, is, according to photographs, insulting Kurdistan, US and German flags after overrunning Kirkuk.

The picture which has gone viral across the Kurdish social media users, shows an armed man of the Hashd al-Shaabi sitting on the flags and posing to the camera.

There is no way you can sell Shiite militias to people over here (and vice versa). Kurdish women with guns are much more relatable.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 16 2017 21:30 utc | 38

Some news remind me Japanese Sengoku period and "Deluge" in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth history: years of multi-party strife with intricate back stabbing, the highest form of that art being reversing the sides on a battlefield. A flow of selected news items on basnews:

14/10/2017 - 18:00 20,000 Arab Tribal Fighters Ready to Defend Kirkuk against Possible Assault
Peshmerga Inflicts Shi’ite Militias with Heavy Damage in Southern Kirkuk

16/10/2017 - 04:02 Peshmerga Inflicts Shi’ite Militias with Heavy Damage in Southern Kirkuk, Hashd al-Shaabi had intended to advance towards Kirkuk

16/10/2017 16:14 Peshmerga Ordered to Fight to the Last Man in Defence of Kirkuk

16/10/2017 17:38 Baghdad-backed Shi’ite Militias Praise PUK Faction for Withdrawal

Iraqi Kurds also wait for surprises in the elections on November 1. While the dead will be rising from graves in some countries of the Western Hemiphere and Catholics will flock to cemeteries to lit candles on graves, Kurds will select members of their regional parliament and their new regional president. No hints who will win the presidency except for the list of candidates: NONE.

Re: Kurds are mentioned in Anabasis, hence they are "older than today created states combined".

It is a bit self-affirming, states created today cannot be older than an ethnic group that is attested before yesterday. Of the countries in the region, Iran is really re-named Persia, which itself is a continuation of Median empire (a change of dynasty), so Iranian/Persian state has high continuity extending to at least 300 years prior to events in Anabasis.

Iraq was united as a single state a number of times, e.g. by Hammurabi -- more than 1000 years before Anabasis.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 16 2017 21:46 utc | 39

Disappointed to see so many conflating many very different political groups simply due to their ethnicity. The Kurds who support Barzani (or are on his payroll at least) are different from the PKK are different from conservative Kurds in Turkey et cetera. Even though the YPG has foolishly signed a deal with the devil and will have to accept the consequences, it is still a fundamentally different group from the Barzani gang. I expect better from MoA than this kind of facile conflation!

Posted by: A Stranger | Oct 16 2017 22:15 utc | 40

Talabani died on Oct 3, 13 days ago. Which is unfortunate at least IMO because I thought he was a good leader/person.

The US just screws over all minority cohorts in Iraq. The Kurds, the marsh arabs. Promise the world to try to get them to foment or be a military proxy, then abandon them. I'm utterly amazed (agree with 12) at why they or anyone (well, in the entire world, but especially in Iraq) would trust the US/West.

And you'd think just by Darwinism that those most likely to trust would be most likely to take up arms, so would die, so those most untrustworthy would continue to propagate genes. Maybe it'll take several more generations for Kurds to be genetically disposed to trusting the US.

Posted by: Soft Asylum | Oct 17 2017 1:49 utc | 41

Do not write off the Kurds just yet.

Posted by: Ermis | Oct 17 2017 2:23 utc | 42

@40 so you're saying there are pro-Syria, pro-Assad Kurds? because otherwise I'm going with Facile.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 17 2017 2:36 utc | 43

@35, and now they dance with Israelis! How the mighty have fallen!

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 17 2017 2:42 utc | 44

May 17, 2017 - State Department Official: US relationship with YPG is "temporary, transactional, and tactical". I guess Kurds were never misled by USA. They shop for support, at times getting from Stalin, at times, from Israel etc. They can fight. For their tribe, as mercenaries, or for a number of ideologies (non-exclusive). They survived and proliferated.

Kirkuk incident (no battle, thankfully) is a part of scenario that is very complex and we have only glimpses about it. IMHO, Barzanis overplayed their hand both in internal politics of the autonomous Kurdish region and on a wider scene, Iraq and international. But their game could be deeper than it appears. In the last three elections in the region, one could see three major electoral forces: KDP, the party of Barzanis, PUK, the party of Talabanis and Gorran = Change, defectors from the larger parties, mostly PUK. There are also Islamists, socialists, communists, minorities aligned with major parties or not etc.

Both KDP and PUK have "Stalinist roots" but that was long ago and far away. In practice they are clan groupings with patronage. I suspect that KDP was more successful in intercepting income streams which lead to a large disenchantment within PUK, and apparently at least half of the supporters of the latter migrated to Gorran. As we all know, corruption is awful, especially if you do not get a cut. KRI has surprisingly democratic constitution, my guess is that at the time of writing KDP and PUK did not trust each other sufficiently to allow President for Life, and they copied American prohibition of third consecutive term. But the president of the region can rule without parliament if he is so inclided (and he is). And he overstayed the second term for more than 2 years already. Brilliant solution: Mustafa Barzani decleared that he will remain president until Kurdistan will gain independence.

Stands to reason that he has to "fight for independence", but this fight is "I win you loose" type of game. But the opponents are sharpening their knives. Next brilliant solution: in two weeks Kurdistan will have parliamentary + presidential elections with no presidential candidates. Only one registered, from Gorran, but he was disqualified on humorous grounds: his candidacy was approved after the deadline. In other words, Barzani will remain in office per his promise to the nation AND for the lack of successor. This level of creativity can easily lead to a civil war, so opponents have to be preventatively discredited or decimated. So you set the status of Kirkuk province on the collision course, make PUK pesh merga responsible for the defence AND command them to defend to the last drop of blood. That gave them two not-so-appealing alternatives: get clobbered or betray the national cause. The second "I win you loose" game. As their blood was boiling, and perhaps with some additional inducement, they chose non-suicidal course of action. After all, they can explain their case. Alas, they have very little time before the elections, but together with Gorran, they can form a very credible opposition. Or not.

My guess is that after November 1, Mustafa Barzani will temporarily suspend independence efforts, but what will happen later, I cannot even speculate. He may have secured some invisible sources of revenue or not etc. etc.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 17 2017 3:03 utc | 45

Other than Barzani and Levy, who else is in that picture? Anyone know?

And, for the record, is Levy representing Mossad, France, or both?

Posted by: Castellio | Oct 17 2017 4:59 utc | 46

It looks like there is not going to be battle for Kirkuk. During this latest challenge many of the Kurdish fighters simply withdrew. That is a good sign. These guys are ferocious fighters when defending their own land. It appears that they are unwilling to conquer non-Kurdish territory when confronted with serious opposition. These Kurds are voting with their feet about the question of Kirkuk being Kurdish land.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 17 2017 6:15 utc | 47


Posted by: harrylaw | Oct 17 2017 7:26 utc | 48

Canadian Troops Safe After Iraqi, Kurdish Allies Open Fire on Each Other

"The eruption of violence has nonetheless raised concerns about the future of Iraq, which one senior Kurdish official says will plunge into civil war unless Canada and others speak up more forcefully."

Given that Canada is also a fervent friend of Israel and its interests, expect to see more of them in the region...

Posted by: John Gilberts | Oct 17 2017 8:18 utc | 49

45 Piotr Berman - I like your explanation of what is going on,
this here is the "New Yorker's", I prefer yours.

What the New Yorker conventiently forgets to mention is that the US cooperated with Iran - Qassem Suleimani - in Iraq. They might have been forced to do so but it was clear from the start of the Iraqi intervention that the strategy was a "Shiite strategy". There is US consent by silence now for Iranian Iraqi military cooperation.

If Trump is serious about fighting back against Iranian influence this fight would of course draw a wall through Kurdistan. My guess is it is all bark and no bite and they are now in the final stages of negotiating the security of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Should anybody plan to put fire to the Middle East oil prices will go sky high. I suppose the US are not that oil independent yet.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 17 2017 10:54 utc | 50

@somebody | 50
"I suppose the US are not that oil independent yet"

Likewise, wonder what will happen to the Rosneft KRG deal now.
Although not publicly announced, a couple of the sites are around kirkuk.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 17 2017 11:48 utc | 51


"It is more important to fight the Kurds than to fight ISIS"

Is this just more of "the truth coming out"?
Interestingly when Magnier wrote this yesterday he again mirrored the words of the Washingtonpost woman ...

An obscene and offensive comment indeed.
I've always questioned his 'Kurdish' commentary and was right to. The man is an outright hater when it comes to Kurds. No better a journalist than most MSM.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 17 2017 11:56 utc | 52

@Laguerre #27

The US and Israel didn't have time to react.

Bibi and Yvet are itching to start a war in Lebanon (now that they believe that they have Trump and Nikki Haley under their thumbs wrt JCPOA)- hence going into Lebanese airspace and then bombing a base in Syria.

That's the goal of Bibi even though Israeli Defense does not look forward to another 2006.

Posted by: Yul | Oct 17 2017 12:35 utc | 53

Posted by: AtaBrit | Oct 17, 2017 7:48:37 AM | 51

The Rosneft deal is about a loan and Kurdistan gas not Kirkuk oil

Kurdistan sits on some of the largest untapped gas deposits on Europe’s doorstep.

Just in case someone intends to break Europe's dependence on Gazprom via Kurdistan.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 17 2017 12:43 utc | 54

Kirkuk is just one of several fronts where Peshmerga retreated. In Saladin province there is a city that was under their control:

"Tuz Khurmatu is the central city of Tooz District in Saladin Province, Iraq, located 55 miles south of Kirkuk. The town is multi-ethnic, with a majority of Shia Turkmen and minorities of Sunni Turkmen, Arabs, and Kurds."

In recent past, peshmerga repelled several attempts by pro-Baghdad forces. Now it changed hands rather smoothly. And yesterday Sinjar region, where the majority is formed by Kurdish-speaking Yazidi (a funky religion, to Muslim "Yezid" means roughly the same as "Judas" to Christians), the control was passed to a Yezidi militia that is allied with PMUs. The central government is establishing control over regions outside the official KRI (Kurdish Region of Iraq). In Sinjar, there were militias allied with KDP and PKK (or YPD?), and presumably, they decided against Yezidi fratricide. Moreover, Al-Mazdar reports that there was a bloody battle before Kirkuk was surrendered, making it harder to paint PUK as traitors.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 17 2017 13:13 utc | 55

@49 john gilberts.. canada went way off course under harper.. mind you most canuck politicians all want to be in bed with the usa as well.. i continue to believe the majority of canucks arent this stupid, or that they would like to continue with the polarizing politics set in motion by harper... mind you crystia freeland could work in a similar manner.. canucks havent seemed to wake up to here george soros funded bullshit just yet.. i remain hopeful however.. the vast majority of canucks arent in agreement with rubber stamping a continuation of the bs in the me - iraq or syria specificslly.. maybe i am wrong...

Posted by: james | Oct 17 2017 18:11 utc | 56

And, for the record, is Levy representing Mossad, France, or both?

Posted by: Castellio | Oct 17, 2017 12:59:14 AM | 46

One day POTUS of that time, certain George W. Bush, woke up with an urge to display his statesmanship on TV cameras. He would conduct a serious discussion and a cordial dinner with another head of state. To do it quickly, DoS found a president within days, from Latvia -- a strategic ally!

A leader of a smallish territory with a doomed cause may have a similar wish, but clearly, he has to aim lower than a leader of the only remaining superpower. Luckily, Bernard-Henri Lévy is usually available. In spite of advanced age he is remarkably buff, and masterfully displays sangfroid, élan and esprit de corp. Because you may also have some secret agents around when you have a doomed cause (e.g. liberation of South Ossetia from Russians and Ossetians), one may get impression that he is one of them, but well, these types rarely pose for cameras. Instead, he is

char·ac·ter ac·tor
ˈker(ə)ktər ˈaktər/Submit
an actor who specializes in playing eccentric or unusual people rather than leading roles.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 18 2017 5:15 utc | 57

Piotr @ 57

LOL. You might be right. Did you know he was Sartre's secretary at one point, when Sartre was quite incapacitated? He has a nose for finding himself in front of a camera, and a gift for articulate nonsense.

Posted by: Castellio | Oct 18 2017 5:41 utc | 58

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