Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 17, 2017

Syria, Iraq - Why The Kurdish Independence Project Failed

The bid of the Kurdish Barzani clan for an independent Kurdistan in north Iraq and beyond has utterly failed. Masoud Barzani, the strongman of the Iraqi Kurdish  region, had called for the referendum to divert from his government's financial problems. Other Kurdish powerhouses saw it as a last attempt by Barzani to save his failing political position. The referendum asked for independence including in "Kurdistani areas outside the (Kurdistan) Region". It was an annexation bid. National Iraqi forces as well as the international powers turned against it. Masoud Barzani and his family are now likely to lose their leading position.

The various unilateral Kurdish assertions since 2003 will be driven back. The dream of Kurdish independence in Iraq and Syria is, for now, dead. This is a positive development for both countries.


Since 2003 and especially since 2014 the Kurds had pushed far beyond their original borders. They occupied areas with diverse populations and with critical Iraqi oil reserves. With backing from the Iraqi parliament, public opinion and international support the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Abadi had for months demanded a return of the 2003 borders. It condemned the illegal independence bid.

The ruling Barzani family mafia sold the oil and pocketed the money that by law was owned to Iraq's federal government. The Barzani militia mafia occupied the federal border stations to neighboring countries and kept all custom income to themselves. Meanwhile teachers and other public workers in the Kurdish region went unpaid.

The Barzani family clan is only one of the powers in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Historically its main competitors are the Talabani clan. Both clans control their own political parties (KDP and PUK) and militia. Both had been fighting against each other during a civil war in the 1990s. Then the Barzanis called in help from Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to defeat their local enemies.

Over the last decade the Talabanis were handicapped by their ailing patriarch Jalal Talabani. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq he eschewed a major role in the Kurdish region in exchange for the ceremonial position of a president of Iraq. When Jalal Talbani died on October 2 his family immediately asserted its position. It negotiated a deal with the central Iraqi government to reign in the Barzanis' quasi dictatorial powers. The Iranian General Qassam Suleiman helped to arrange the agreement.

When the Iraqi government forces, as previously announced, moved to retake Kirkuk from the Kurds the Kurdish militia forces (peshmerga) under PUK/Talibani command retreated as planned. The militia under KDP/Barzani command were left in an indefensible position and had to flee in haste.

Yesterday and today Iraqi national forces retook control of various large oil fields the Kurds had occupied. They are also back in control of border stations with Syria and Turkey. After three years the Yazidi can finally go back to Sinjar. The Mosul Dam is again in government hands. Without oil and customs dues the Kurdish region lacks the assets and income to finance any regional independence. While his project collapsed in front of everyone's eyes, not a word was heard from Masoud Barzani.

The Iraqi government will not only retake full control of the areas the Kurds under Brazani had illegally usurped. It will also demand new regional elections. It is doubtful that Masoud Barzani, or any of his sons, can win such local elections after all the mismanagement and disasters they caused.

In Syria the Kurdish YPG/SDF forces today took full control of Raqqa. It will take months to clear the last remands ISIS left behind. It will take years to rebuild the city as it was largely destroyed by U.S. air support during the fight against ISIS.

In Deir Ezzor the last Islamic State positions are collapsing under attacks of Syrian government forces. In a few more days and weeks the city and countryside will also be fully liberated.

The war against ISIS is coming to an end. The Kurdish independence project in Iraq has died. The Kurds in Syria will now also be cut back to size. With less than 8% of the population the YPG led Kurds had taken control of 20% of the land and some 40% of the hydrocarbon resources. They will have to give up those gains.

The Kurdish forces in Syria had material and personal support from U.S. forces. Most of the equipment and munition was transported by U.S. planes to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in Iraq, and from there by land through Iraqi-Syrian border stations under Barzani's control. The Iraqi government in Baghdad will now be back in control of those crossings. The flow of U.S. material into the Kurdish-Syrian areas is no longer assured.

The U.S. had long supported Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. It has now taken the side of the Iraqi central government. The (Barzani) Kurds were left hanging. The Kurds in Syria surely recognized that and they will calculate appropriately.

Meanwhile Turkish forces have invaded Idelb governate in north-west Syria and nearly surrounded the Kurdish enclave of Efrin. Only Russia is holding Erdogan back from moving any further. Last weekend the military leader of the YPG/SDF in Syria, Sipan Hamo, visited Moscow. He wants Russian protection for Efrin but for that he will have to pay a price.

The Kurds in Syria will have to reconcile with the Syrian government. Political support from Washington is obviously not reliable. Without U.S. air support the Kurdish military positions are way overstretched. The flow of material support to them is now under latent control of the Baghdad which is allied with the Syrian government side. Only Damascus and its allies in Moscow can prevent the fall of Efrin.

There is no trump card left to play for the Kurds. They can hope that Russia will help them to achieve some bits of federal autonomy in areas of Syria where they are the majority. They will have to give up their other gains.

Zionist forces, which want to split up Syria, will try their best to prevent a U.S. retreat from Syria. Some in the U.S. military will want to continue their alliance with Syrian Kurds. But Turkey as well as Iraq are against further U.S. support for Kurdish forces. Without any assured air, land or sea route the U.S. military can not sustain a long term involvement in Syria. Moreover - there is nothing to gain for it.

I expect that President Trump and the U.S. media will declare a glorious U.S. victory over ISIS in its "capital" Raqqa. Trump will then order the U.S. military to leave the country. There will likely be some minor involvement for months to come but the main operation will be wrapped up. What is left of ISIS in Syria's east will be rolled up by the Syrian army and its allies.

Over the last decades, and especially since the (foreign induced) Salafi insurrection weakened the states of Syria and Iraq, the Kurds had made huge territorial and political gains. But they became overly greedy and did not see that these gains were not sustainable. Iraq and Syria reasserted themselves. The "western" allies of the Kurds rediscovered that their strategic interests are best served by intact nation states.

As I wrote elsewhere, the Kurds are an extremely diverse people:

There are four Kurdish languages which are not mutually understandable. There are a dozen religions among Kurds though a majority are (Sufi) Sunni. They have been schooled and socialized in four different states. There are tribal conglomerates or clans like the Barzani and Talibani which have their own political parties and are led by patriarchal family mafias. There are members of the anarcho-marxist cult of Özalan while neighboring Salafi Kurds have joined ISIS to then kill the neighboring Yezidi Kurds. None of these groups has any enlightened or democratic understanding of the world.

The Kurds never got a state and will never get one because they are so hugely diverse and have little national unity. They will rather fight each other than accept some common leadership.

Over centuries the Kurdish people never found the agreement among themselves that is needed to form a viable nation state. The fall of their latest independence bid only confirm this weakness.

Posted by b on October 17, 2017 at 13:49 UTC | Permalink


Trump should quickly declare victory over ISIS and resist the neo-cons and Israel calls to linger in Syria as the US military may become the target of attacks from everyone who want them out, and this is the large majority in Syria.
After they saw the lack of the US support for the KRG independence, the lack of US condemnation of Turkey's actions against the YPG, the Syrian Kurds have realized that their strongest and most reliable allies are ... Bashar al Assad and the Syrian army.
As mentioned in the article, there will be a discreet dialog between the Syrians Kurds and the Syrian government to the detriment of the USA.
Trump, get your guys out asap!

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 17 2017 14:07 utc | 1

The pieces are starting to drop into to place. US sure got a kick in the butt after going for the Syrian oilfields and killing Russian officers. Well thought out asymetrical warfare by Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 17 2017 14:13 utc | 2

The US is a spectator.
Press Statement
Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 16, 2017

The United States is very concerned by reports of violence around Kirkuk, Iraq. We are monitoring the situation closely and call on all parties to coordinate military activities and restore calm.
We support the peaceful exercise of joint administration by the central and regional governments, consistent with the Iraqi Constitution, in all disputed areas. We are working with officials from the central and regional governments to reduce tensions, avoid further clashes, and encourage dialogue.
We strongly urge all parties to avoid provocations that can be exploited by Iraq’s enemies who are interested in fueling ethnic and sectarian conflict. In particular, we note that there is still much work to be done to defeat ISIS in Iraq, and continued tensions between Iraqi and Kurdish forces distract from this vital mission. The United States will continue to stand with our Iraqi partners to ensure ISIS’s defeat. . .

". . .restore calm . . .avoid provocations . .. .call on all parties to coordinate military activities" -- Sure, the American way. (not)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 17 2017 15:17 utc | 3

WASHINGTON — The U.S. may consider halting its massive train-and-equip program for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi military continues its offensive against Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq, a defense official said Monday.//
Massive? Anyhow that would remove all US influence in Iraq, which would probably happen anyhow. Iran is not in favor of US troops in Iraq.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 17 2017 15:36 utc | 4

@4 Another brilliant move. I'm sure the Russians will step in to help with the train-and-equip program.

Posted by: dh | Oct 17 2017 15:48 utc | 5

An interesting report here by southfront if correct.

Few hours after the missile incident with Syria, the Israeli media reported that the Israeli Air Force’s F-35 stealth multirole fighter went unserviceable as a result of an alleged bird collision during a training flight.

The incident allegedly took place “two weeks ago” but was publicly reported only on October 16. However, Israeli sources were not able to show a photo of the F-35 warplane after the “bird collision”.

Furthermore, it is not clear if the F-35 can become operational again because its stealth coating was damaged. Thus, according to the Israeli version, the warplane reportedly became no longer operational after the bird collision despite the fact that the F-35 earlier passed the bird strike sertification with great results"

Syrian air defence electronics were upgraded some time ago and linked to Khmeimim and controlled by Russian command.
"Today, a unified integrated air defense system has been set up in Syria. We have ensured the information and technical interlinkage of the Russian and Syrian air reconnaissance systems. All information on the situation in the air comes from Syrian radar stations to the control points of the Russian force grouping," he said.

US/Isreali Kurdish project has met its end and perhaps an Isreali F-35 taken out by an old S-200 with upgraded electronics. If so, a trillion or more dollars down the drain for the US.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 17 2017 15:58 utc | 6

Thank you, b, for a scathing indictment and overview of Kurdish actions since the start of the Syrian war. You and other posters have helped deconstruct the term 'Kurd' all the while covering their moves as they tripped over quarters to pick up pennies, meanwhile shooting themselves in the foot. Shame, shame. It IS as you say: if they only had foresight they could have proven to the central gov'ts in Syria and Iraq that they were team players. Instead, their existence will continue to warrant ongoing suspicion.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Oct 17 2017 16:23 utc | 7

I must have missed the piece explaining how the Syrian government will reverse "those gains" of the Kurds in eastern Syria and why the SDF wouldn't redeploy their troops from Raqqah to Deir Ezzor in their race to steal the remaining oil rich lands bordering Iraq.

Posted by: xor | Oct 17 2017 16:24 utc | 8

"There are tribal conglomerates or clans like the Barzani and Talibani which have their own political parties and are led by patriarchal family mafias. There are members of the anarcho-marxist cult of Özalan while neighboring Salafi Kurds have joined ISIS to then kill the neighboring Yezidi Kurds. None of these groups has any enlightened or democratic understanding of the world."

The last sentence is gratuitous. PKK is no more a "cult" than Baath Party of Syria, and the party that was loosely (?) related to them in Turkey is quite sophisticated. Nobody is perfect, including major "enlightened" parties in the West. What is a bit funny is how cultural influences spread in all directions. Is it possible that "Americans in ME" behave like members of multiple squabbling clans with separate and murky agendas, as "everybody in the region"?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 17 2017 16:44 utc | 9

With regard to the Barzani clan being able to win local elections in the north, I think this depends on who controls the electoral process. As seen in the 'independence vote' in Iraq, Kurdish forces controlled the process and got the vote they wanted--making it harder to determine what votes might be under independent and fair oversight.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Oct 17 2017 16:53 utc | 10

I really don't know how you do it, Bernhard. It is truly phenomenal how you continue to crank out such high quality material and incisive analysis. Thank you.

I am not sure I can agree with your conclusion, however, when you say with some commitment that "I expect that President Trump will declare victory over ISIS in Raqqa and order the U.S. military to leave the country". This assumes that the President has sovereignty. But given his recent behavior concerning the JCPOA and his failure to affirm Iran's compliance, it is obvious that he has been turned and is no more than an agent acting in the interests of the Zionists and the MIC, both of which are militating for war. Of course it is possible that they may well withdraw, but they would only be doing so in order to attack Iran on the pretext of some false flag event.

Posted by: Nuff Sed | Oct 17 2017 17:02 utc | 11

Masoud Barzani finally released a statement.

Spoiler: It isn't his fault ...

Barzani: Blood of the martyrs, calls for independence are ‘not wasted’ (scroll down)

What happened in Kirkuk city was the result of unilateral decisions of some persons within a certain internal political party of Kurdistan, which eventually led to the withdrawal of the Peshmerga forces, as was seen. As a result of the withdrawal, the border line between Erbil and Baghdad that existed before the Mosul operation started on October 17, 2016 became the basis of understanding for the mechanism of deploying Iraqi and Kurdistan Region forces.

The Kurds took Kirkuk in 2014, not in 2016 when the liberation of Mosul started. It is back to the borderline of 2003 and that one had nothing to do with Mosul.

Posted by: b | Oct 17 2017 17:12 utc | 12

A tictoc of what happened yesterday. It is consistent with my interpretation of the events:

Iraq Day @iraq_day

What happened in #Kirkuk of the past 48 hours will be discussed in this thread. Some of the things i cant go into details.
On October 15 #Iraq Pres Masum met with Barzani, Talabani’s widow and Nichervan Barzani in Sulaymaniyah giving Barzani the last chance.
The meeting was unsuccessful and just like expected, Masum told Barzani that #Iraq govt will use the military to regain to control.
Barzani ego stood in his way and wanted to risk it all, meanwhile the Talabani family phoned @HaiderAlAbadi to cooperate.
As soon as Pres Masum left Sulaymaniyah to #Baghdad,#Iraq PM gave the green light for forces to advance but not to engage unless for defense
#Iraqi forces advanced onto the outskirts of #Kirkuk city from 6 axes, the main target was the NW axes which was given to Counter Terrorism.
As #Iraqi forces closed in on the city only a few groups tried to prevent by firing at forces, #Iraqi forces returned heavy fire.
The Peshmerga fighters that were loyal to the Talbani were ordered to stand down
Some of the #Peshmerga fighters (200-300) refused to orders and continued to fire at #Iraqi forces advancing. Later they ran away.

Posted by: b | Oct 17 2017 17:19 utc | 13

@b #13

I am happy that he is back tweeting even though Evil Twitter closed his account last August.
You have the real news from him in situ and sometimes in visu. A big difference from those so-called analysts sitting in DC , London living on their paycheques from the instigators of regime change .

Posted by: Yul | Oct 17 2017 17:35 utc | 14

Me Barizani just got his kiss of death, if I were him I would immediately leave with entire family to Tel Avive and not Even DC. Is not vise or smart to wave the flag of Israel in celebration in any Muslim specially Arab country.

Posted by: Kooshy | Oct 17 2017 17:53 utc | 15

thanks tb and the numerous posters as well. thanks.
@ 8 xor.. i imagine that usa and israel will not back away from there ongoing inclinations.. it will take some time for this to work itself out.. i am hopeful however.. maybe i am mis guided....

Posted by: james | Oct 17 2017 17:59 utc | 16

b, Excellent analysis you partially erase my doubts on Putin's grand strategies in Syria. What puzzle me still why Russia sold S400 to China, Turkey, Saudi and India (not sure)? The S400 maybe used on Russia itself and between the warring states and more likely so in any future conflicts? I still remain doubtful until SAA crosses the Euphrates river in full force, where Kurdish forces now occupied and take back the vast oil and gas fields before the free-for-all war started? Further question will Putin's support Dr. Assad, possibly a full-blown war between Syria (Hezbollah and Iran) and Israel? It seems Putin close relationship with every warring states and/or groupings? I am particularly cheese off t aPutin allow Netanyahu to continue bombing Damascus and Golan height where SAA forces stationed. Syria will forever locked into Russia Federation sphere of influence.

Read somewhere either SCMP (South China Morning Post) and China’s states owned media the rebuilding in Syria has started with China in some projects. Watched many Dr. Assad’s interviewed, Syria welcome India, China and Russia companies but NOT Japan and will the French companies welcome too? Especially French cement giant Lafarge in Syria was involved in many shady deals with IS or Daesh in Syrian?

Finally that crazy Trump will flip another new deck of cards and will not declare victory as he had even before the 2016 election. I DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM!

Posted by: OJS | Oct 17 2017 18:10 utc | 17

@13 Txs b, pretty much what I surmised yesterday..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 17 2017 18:24 utc | 18

@ 8 xor

I must have missed the piece explaining how the Syrian government will reverse "those gains" of the Kurds in eastern Syria and why the SDF wouldn't redeploy their troops from Raqqah to Deir Ezzor in their race to steal the remaining oil rich lands bordering Iraq.

.....and those SDF troops will be sitting out in the open desert at those oil fields trying to defend exposed positions without air cover as the SAA attacks them from nearby fortified positions along the Euphrates valley. Sounds like a recipe for SDF success. The Sunni tribes part of the SDF will switch sides in due course and the Syrian Kurds realize their "friends" will dump them without hesitation. There will be manufactured bumps along the way but the headchoppers are finished in Syria by Christmas at the latest.

Posted by: Sad Canuck | Oct 17 2017 18:43 utc | 20

Syria allowing the SDF and US to control Tabqa Dam is telling.
So to will be signal when/ if SDF hands that back to Damascus.
Russian military command were threatened by Netanyahu in recent meeting in Hell Aviv.
No Iranian bases in Syria will be tolerated.
Israel again defeated Russian air defence technology in Syria with stand off attack on an air defence battery.
Syria has Mobile BUK M2 which can deploy to Golan and Bekka region.
Proximity frag warheads. ...bound to shred a IAF F 16,F 15,..even F 35
Syria's air defence is total disappointment.
Pantsir,TOR M,other systems are capable of downing stand off strike.
Especially Damascus. ..Zionist hit whatever they choose in that region.
No excuse ...none...that Syria cannot knock them down.
Netanyahu swings it around before Putin....Russia let's Israel get away with murder it seems.

Posted by: Brad | Oct 17 2017 19:00 utc | 21

Good recap by an Assyrian(?) analyst:
What Events in Kirkuk Mean for Iraq.

The KRG, dominated for years by the politically bankrupt KDP, were stubborn enough to go ahead with the referendum in the face of almost universal opposition. The problem was that they went one step further by incorporating post-2014 newly conquered lands into the question. I’ve said this so many times: acquiring leverage for expansion and not independence had always been the purpose of the referendum. The KDP et al had calculated that they needed ownership of Kirkuk’s oil for any prospect of independence, so expansion was the first priority. From the peoples’ perspective, there simply is no real independence with a black market economy controlled by autocrats. The referendum was a heist, and Baghdad was gradually emboldened enough to foil it. ...

Posted by: b | Oct 17 2017 19:01 utc | 22

b -- as a great admirer of this website, I am somewhat shamefaced to be pedantic over such an insignificant matter -- in the context you repeatedly use, it;s "rein in" and not "reign in" -- like "reining in a horse".

Posted by: chet380 | Oct 17 2017 19:20 utc | 23

and it's "it's" and not "it;s" :-)

Posted by: chet380 | Oct 17 2017 19:22 utc | 24

McCain has commented:

"The United States provided equipment and training to the Government of Iraq to fight ISIS and secure itself from external threats—not to attack elements of one of its own regional governments, which is a longstanding and valuable partner of the United States,” McCain, R-Ariz., and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a statement."

McCain and Clinton are virtually indistinguishable on this, both being closely tied to the Saudis and Israelis and representing the old neocon/neolib Washington-Atlantic consensus. As far as global support, this clan is getting more and more isolated - it's really just the US, Saudi and Israel alone against the world, perhaps with tepid support of the Five Eyes partners.

Most of Europe and China and India can see the benefits of trade with Iran, and are not concerned about a Lebanon-Syria-Iran energy corridor, which would likely benefit Turkey (and Russia) as well. France's Total was developing the Deir Ezzor oilfields well before the Syria destabilization program was implemented:

DAMASCUS, Sept 4, 2008 (Reuters) - The chief executive of French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) said on Thursday that Total would sign deals for an oil block extension in Syria and for a gas development deal in the country. . . French President Nicolas Sarkozy is currently on a state visit to Syria.

French efforts to break into the Iranian oil market also have continued, much to US outrage:
2014 Crude-Oil/French-Warned-As-Total-Eyes-Iranian-Oil-Deals

Doubtless Hillary Clinton, if in power now, would be all-in behind a Kurdish client state, with the full support of the corporate media and the McCain Republicans. As far as Trump, with the massively fractured establishment at war with itself now, who knows? From a business point of view, refusing to certify the Iran nuclear deal seems like a pretty stupid move, as it merely means the U.S. will be further isolated and could lose business deals:

Posted by: nonsense factory | Oct 17 2017 19:27 utc | 25

”In Syria the Kurdish YPG/SDF forces today took full control of Raqqa. It will take months to clear the last remands ISIS left behind. It will take years to rebuild the city as it was largely destroyed by U.S. air support during the fight against ISIS.”

In Neocon Propaganda Radio's first news hour this morning, two different “reporters” attributed the destruction and civilian loss of life in Raqqa to “US and Russian air strikes!”

Posted by: AntiSpin | Oct 17 2017 19:35 utc | 26

spot on again - learn so much from your article - one thing for sure - israhell has been defeated and its worse nightmare has materialised - irgc is the best army in the world whose amazing feat will be the direct support of all resistance fighters especially hezbollah - God is the best of all planners

Posted by: Mdranix | Oct 17 2017 19:57 utc | 27

Many years ago I read a history of the British and French efforts to build new states out of the vanquished Ottoman Empire after WWI. In the beginning a Kurdistan state was seriously considered. The problem with that solution was that the different Kurd regions were already fighting each other. It was difficult for the Brits to control the different factions. They therefore opted for some kind of Arab alliance built around the Hashemites. Thus was born the countries of Iraq, Jordan and Syria. The imperialists were probably right in that they were able to control those Arabs for about another 25 years. But alas, the pressures of national independence finally came to a fore and the Brits were forced out (and the US has been trying in its futile ways to put it all back together again).

It is interesting to see that those early British colonialist were right. Israel and US is now seeing how the disunity among the Kurds is making it impossible for them to create a Kurdistan state that will be subservient to their Anglo-Zio ambitions.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 17 2017 20:03 utc | 29

@6 .... Peter makes note of F35 damage by S 200 missile. America's flying turkey hit by a Viet Nam era SAM! A couple of things come to mind: The Russian's have sent a message .. We see you. The other, according to the Israelis, stop wasting missiles and fire turkeys at this turkey.

Posted by: ger | Oct 17 2017 20:10 utc | 30

Can someone explain why the US was opposed to the the Kurdish referendum? Only Israel was in favor. Seems Barzani was expecting more support..

Posted by: dh | Oct 17 2017 20:18 utc | 31

Why would the US need to transport equipment and munition into Syria over land via Iraq if it has a number of bases with air strips in eastern Syria already?

I wish I could share b's optimism about the demise of the US-Kurd coalition in Syria, but I don't see the US leaving there any time soon. And US presence needs the Kurdish fig leaf.

Posted by: 0use4msm | Oct 17 2017 20:29 utc | 32

Should file this under all-time best posts on MoA, at least 'until the first bombs drop', lol. What a show.
"How terrible is the Truth, when there is no help in the truth." Sophocles (?)

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2017 20:46 utc | 33

"Can someone explain why the US was opposed to the the Kurdish referendum? Only Israel was in favor. Seems Barzani was expecting more support.."

In my opinion, I assume the US regime knew that the entire Kurdish land grab endeavor was doomed to failure and any public support for it would just further damage the already poor relations with Turkey and Iraq.

I don't have any doubt that the US regime never thought they would be in this position. The US regime neocons expected at this point they would:

* Have overthrown the wannabe mini Sultan Erdogan with some US regime puppet government in Turkey

* Syria would be completely destroyed and no longer functioning as a state

* The north of Syria would be have been turned into one giant US regime military platform

* The Iraq government weak and completely unable to do anything other than sit cowering in Baghdad

Barzani appears to be a not very bright thieving thug.

Posted by: Terscich | Oct 17 2017 20:51 utc | 34


It would be G-d's sweet justice after OEF and millions innocent Muslims slaughtered for the Greater Israel Project, if these battle hardened troops kept rolling SE and blitzkreiged Israel, but US would do all the fighting and Pentagon would bump to $845B stolen from entitlements

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2017 20:54 utc | 35

@dh #31,
The only explanation for that is the fractured state of the U.S. establishment. This has been growing for some time - recall that CIA-backed Syrian forces were fighting Pentagon-backed Kurdish forces a couple years ago? If you want the internal U.S. argument for supporting "independent Kurdistan", here it is, BS and all:

An independent, democratic, stable and federal Iraq is an admirable but unattainable dream. Yet a free Kurdistan could be a reality — a positive development to follow some regrettable others: more than $1 trillion spent and over 4,500 U.S. service members’ and 500,000 Iraqi lives lost over the past 14 years, resulting in a rapidly emerging client state in service to the ayatollahs. A new and unshakably U.S.-allied nation in the region may be the unexpected upshot to the mess that is today’s Middle East.

Juleanna Glover is a corporate consultant who has served on the staffs of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Steve Forbes, Rudy Giuliani and others.

That faction includes Democrats and Republicans with close ties to Israel, here's a primer, let's call them the "imperial fanatics":

The opposing faction doesn't have the same mass media approach to their agenda, which is probably more focused on the economic deals that could arise with Iran. Here we have Boeing's $8 billion deal to rebuild the Iranian passenger air fleet, etc. Perhaps middlemen deals with Iranian oil&gas producers. Let's call them the "practical realists".

That's what the split looks like to me, anyway.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Oct 17 2017 20:55 utc | 36

A couple of thoughts about the developments in Iraq.

I feel the two most important developments to watch for are:

1. Is Iraq really sealing the Syrian border and stopping the US regime arms flow or are the Iraq troops taking over the border cities and posts an entirely internal Iraq move.

2. Does Iraq start canceling the disgusting US regime contracts effectively turning over huge parts of the west of Iraq to foreign military contractors. These contracts were obviously signed at a time of utter weakness by Baghdad.

These two plus the obvious starting to kick the US regime troops and shutting down foreign military bases will be the indications if we really are seeing a sea change in the fundamental power structure in the Middle East.

Posted by: Terscich | Oct 17 2017 20:59 utc | 37

It seems to have been timed with the visit of the Russian defence minister to Israel.

So if the attack on the Israeli plane was the first action, either Israel tried to prove that Russian air defence is useless or Russia/Syria proved to the Israelis that they should flying.

This is Jerusalem post on the same issue

It seems Israel made a miscalculation - or maybe not - by investing in the F35 missile.

This incident presumably closed the discussion.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 17 2017 21:07 utc | 38

Pepe Escobar chimes in explaining why the Kirkuk battle was mostly bloodless,

Not much left of the Outlaw US Empire's bid to create Greater Israel for the Zionist Abomination and bolster the health of the PetroDollar simultaneously. There's still more to both stories, but the Truth is that both are unravelling and will eventually vanish thanks to the hubris of their criminal leadership.

Russia and China's next big effort at peace brokering will now move to Pakistan/India/Afghanistan with additional Russian attention given to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan's shared, USSR inherited, problem of the Fergana Valley which creates the chaos desired by the Outlaw US Empire to grow its terrorists. Not that the North Korean situation will be ignored, or the attempt to use Colombia as a proxy force to invade Venezuela.

Oh, and watch in astonishment as a whole new system facilitating international commerce transactions arises around sovereign cryptocurrencies--"digital" currencies as Putin put it to support the "digital economy."

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 17 2017 22:27 utc | 39

The taking of Kirkuk was an incredible coup. Rare to see such brilliance. As the Peshmerga in Sinjar are also said to have surrendered to the Shi'a militia, I can only suppose that it was an organised defection.

In a single moment, the Kurds of KRG have changed from being the dominant feature of northern Iraq to being the beggars at the door. Without the oil of Kirkuk, the Kurds have nothing.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 17 2017 23:32 utc | 40

Dear MoA,
many texts from you are really good, a deep analysing of the US environment. But if you speak about Kurds, we can read only nonsense.
We have two parts in this. The old, patriarchial structure and the new, community and equality oriented structures. Clear, there are many gray zones between. But this are the deep forces for defend the status quo or the transformation.
The people, they act in the democratic federation of Nord Syria are not interested for a kurdish state. They work for a strong stability for her life environemt in the space of her community.
The most problems they have is with the old patriarchial structure. Not with different languages, religions or ethnic relation. And the ISS/Daesh have the same internal structures.
And now, look to North America or West Europe? You will find the same.
many greetings, willi
Asuncion, Paraguay

Posted by: willi uebelherr | Oct 17 2017 23:38 utc | 41

@6: "If so, a trillion or more dollars down the drain for the US."

Hardly, it was/is a 'jobs' (and elite ripoff) programme.

Posted by: x | Oct 18 2017 0:07 utc | 42

@6 .... Peter makes note of F35 damage by S 200 missile. America's flying turkey hit by a Viet Nam era SAM.
Israeli sources were not able to show a photo of the F-35 warplane after the “bird collision”.

Actually, it was hit by an oil tanker truck on the runway. The F-35 was unable to avoid the collision, even though the truck was traveling at 18 mph.

Apparently US Navy vessels, as well as US Air Force fighters have the same problems with their navigational systems.
Some sort of electrical interference of unknown origin.

Posted by: Perimetr | Oct 18 2017 0:16 utc | 43

@ #31 dh
Can someone explain why the US was opposed to the the Kurdish referendum? Only Israel was in favor. Seems Barzani was expecting more support.

There are $43B of reconstruction contracts to be allocated by the Iraqi Govt and the Sec Def and some inside the beltway would like to see most of that go to US contracting companies.

If you P--off the govt by aligning Barzani, you will be left only with Erbil

Posted by: Yul | Oct 18 2017 0:18 utc | 44

b said:"I expect that President Trump and the U.S. media will declare a glorious U.S. victory over ISIS in its "capital" Raqqa. Trump will then order the U.S. military to leave the country."

Thanks b, but, all you espoused could come to pass except the above sentence. I, for one, will have to see it to believe it.

The "liar in chief" may actually mouth the words, but IMO, the U$A is not leaving the area...ever..

Posted by: ben | Oct 18 2017 0:33 utc | 45

Why the US hates Iran's IRGC

Around 8 p.m. on Oct. 15, an Iranian general from the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) accompanied by Iraqi Commanders Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Hadi al-Ameri sat down with the Kurdish commanders in Kirkuk. The IRGC commander, known only by his surname, Eqbalpour, who works closely with Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, told the Kurds to give up the city peacefully. “If you resist, we will crush you and you will lose everything,” the general warned the peshmerga commanders, a source with intimate knowledge of the meeting told Al-Monitor.

The Kurdish leadership had turned down repeated requests by Soleimani to cancel the Sept. 25 independence referendum, to his indignation. The peshmerga commanders who had fought Saddam Hussein’s army alongside Soleimani and other IRGC commanders in the 1980s knew that the Quds Force commander would take his revenge. After consulting with the top Kurdish leadership, the peshmerga commanders told Eqbalpour that they would not give up Kirkuk.. . . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 18 2017 0:55 utc | 46

@ ben . ."the U$A is not leaving the area...ever.."

That's what I once said, and then the US left Iraq because the Iraqis (and Iran) didn't want the US to stay, and Bush-43 signed an agreement in that regard. It happened.
So why couldn't it happen again, when Iraq and Syria are more emboldened by current events?

The principal US military presence in the ME is its installations, headquarters and ships in and around the west coast of the Persian Gulf, 40,000 strong, and they won't leave unless forced. But that's a good thing. These forward bases are insurance against any US/Israel attack because they are easy Iran targets. (It's similar in Korea. Forward basing? Not good.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 18 2017 1:06 utc | 47

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 17, 2017 9:06:15 PM | 47

I hafta say that this is one of my biggest concerns, that Haider al-Abadi may have been forced into making concessions to amerika in order to secure 100% non-involvement in the kurd 'withdrawal'.
One of the reasons that caused amerika to have to withdraw following their illegal invasions was that they had nothing to offer Iraq and international law was completely on the side of Iraq's insistence that amerika flee the scene of their crimes.

This time around al-Abadi owes the empire for at least two big favours - at least - we just dunno what others there may be, but we do know it was amerikan bullying and bribery which forced Maliki and his party outta government and Maliki's party into coalition with sufficient smaller parties to take over.
Likewise Barzani would have been begging all his amerikan contacts before and especially after the referendum to lend a hand - none was forthcoming and sure amerika doesn't have much more use for Barzani or any Kurds following the ISIS drubbing, but amerika isn't in the habit of handing out free lunches either.
Alowing Iraq back into kurd controlled areas means that those aras become unavailable for amerikan bases and operatioons, areas that were oncet entirely open to the empires cabal of butchers and rapists; I for one cannot see how even the dingbat agent orange would allow such a loss without some undertakings/agreements from al-Abadi and the whitehouse junta certainly wouldn't.

The conspiracy brigade will find far more evidence and cui bene style motives for the contention that ISIS began as an amerikan designed program aimed at forcing Iraq to invite amerika back in, than 99% of the conspiracy nonsense usually offered up around here.

Paddy Cockburn has a slightly different take on the mechanics of what has just occurred than b. does, but he agrees that the chance of any sort of independent or even semi-indepedendent federal Kurdistan is now totally out of the question.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 18 2017 1:49 utc | 48

Sorry "which forced Maliki and his party outta government and Maliki's"
should read "which forced Maliki and his party outta government and Abadi's party into coalition with sufficient smaller parties to take over

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 18 2017 1:54 utc | 49

DB @47P: For your edification: "WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2017 — Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell reports that U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria are executing the strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and they want to know what's next."

Posted by: ben | Oct 18 2017 2:25 utc | 50

I guess the recent vituperation of Dotard in Chief gave an extra motivation to IRGC to be energetic. In any case, the retreat of Peshmerga is very broad, and apparently, with an understanding that Baghdad will assume control outside KRI as existed in 2003. Mustafa Barzani is most probably also in his dotage.

Some atrocities are probable because this is how soldiers behave on the battlefield. After loosing men from fierce resistance, the officers tend to be quite vengeful. But the idea that this will start more fierce enmity between Iraqi Kurd and governments of Iran and Iraq is fanciful. Over there, every faction was at some point stabbed in the back by at least one faction in their current alliance.

As I wrote, Americans tend to import/internalize the tribal squabbling of the people they work with. Our people in Kurdistan were perhaps rooting for Barzani, but to our people in Baghdad the alternatives were clear: maintaining a degree of influence in Baghdad, even if shared with Iranians and even Russians, or bupkes and ignominy. And our people in Washington think tanks do what they do best: kvetch.

To paraphrase Conan the Barbarian: there is no sound more beautiful than kvetching of their think tankers.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 18 2017 2:47 utc | 51

PB @ 51: "kvetching" A new one for me, thanks:)

Posted by: ben | Oct 18 2017 3:08 utc | 52

From the last dozen comments, I've now read Escobar's piece (#39 link), and I've read the Al-Monitor story (#41 link), and I've read Cockburn's take (#48 link). And then I came back and re-read b's report on what has happened - simply the very best out there. It's of the quality of an intelligence assessment. It's a fine piece of journalism.

Al-monitor says that Iran may regret humiliating the Kurds with this move. As Cockburn tells it, the blame game has started already, and the shock of the loss of Kirkuk will echo through Kurdish culture for decades to come.

But do the Kurds really feel this way? I saw a story at Fort Russ that said the inhabitants of Kirkuk are now free to reveal that the local police ran the city as a criminal enterprise. The people themselves were not treated well by their leadership class. Much of the angst we will hear about will be the thief's lament that the old pathways of income have fallen from the Kurdish mafias and into the hands of Baghdad.

Soleimani by all accounts forged this outcome at Kirkuk. And from b's account, the opportunity arose following the death of the patriarch Talibani, whose family acted to regain its power against Barzani. This was Iran's investment of political, military and even spiritual capital to act as broker. I can only see it as an act of supreme maturity. And kindness. Not to mention supreme generalship, an accomplishment of diplomatic and peacemaking brilliance.

I will take a leap of faith in Iran, and say that she will act now to influence the way forward with the greatest mercy possible towards the ordinary people of the Kurdish world. It may be that the thieves of Kurdistan will antagonize Baghdad by agitating for a slice of the new pie, but once again they will do their people no favors, and they will gain little or nothing.

I perceive that Iran and Russia both are peacemakers. They understand where victory truly lies - in a state of no war. Surely the Kurdish peoples have a chance here to understand that, far from humiliation, they have been given a way forward free of their mafia control, under the rule of law.

So that the people that willi uebelherr (#41) speaks for - the progressive, communal egalitarians who stand against the old, patriarchal ways - can work on the Kurdish culture and bring it perhaps even one day to the stature of a nation.

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 18 2017 3:10 utc | 53

@ Grieved #53

Well composed and written. Thanks!

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 18 2017 3:23 utc | 54

Grieved "I perceive that Iran and Russia both are peacemakers."

Sooner the world population wakes up to this the better.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 18 2017 5:22 utc | 55

Perimetr 43 "Some sort of electrical interference of unknown origin."

Electrickery is a problem
...but southfront's analysis sounds solid

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 18 2017 5:29 utc | 56

Posted by: x | Oct 17, 2017 8:07:27 PM | 42 "Hardly, it was/is a 'jobs' (and elite ripoff) programme."

Jobs? yep. But they have to be able to flog it off to the "allies". Hard to do if your flying lemon gets knocked out by a 50/60 year old missile. For that reason, I can't imagine we will see anything in western MSM if southfront is correct.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 18 2017 5:35 utc | 57

"I am somewhat shamefaced to be pedantic over such an insignificant matter -- in the context you repeatedly use, it;s "rein in" and not "reign in" -- like "reining in a horse"."

I'm not shamefaced about it all, it's 'rein in' not 'reign in', and while we are poring over the subject, its 'pore over', not 'pour over', another common error.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 18 2017 6:40 utc | 58

@ Grieved #53 - nailed it bro

Posted by: jezabeel | Oct 18 2017 7:08 utc | 59

OT: Trump and Tsipras press conference yesterday, seems the US is replacing the UK there, and that EU is something of the past (i haven't heard them mention the EU once)

Posted by: Mina | Oct 18 2017 9:00 utc | 60

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 17, 2017 9:49:25 PM | 48

Kurds had everyone against them

Baghdad has been turning the screws on the Kurdish region since the September referendum, pushing Kurdish leaders to disavow the vote and accept shared administration over Kirkuk.

Iraq’s government barred international flights to and from the region and asked neighbouring Turkey and Iran to close their borders. Iran closed its three official crossings with the Kurdish region Sunday, Kurdish media reported. It also froze currency transfers to four banks operating in the Kurdish region.

Al-Abadi’s Cabinet said Sunday that fighters from Turkey’s Kurdish insurgency, the PKK, were beginning to appear in Kirkuk, and declared that would be tantamount to an act of war.

I don't think Abadi had to pay for the US (and Europe) to keep out of the fight. I think Turkey threatening the US (and Europe) was enough.

I have been wondering about that free ride IS got to Mosul and Raqqa from Turkey with Kurdistan "saving" Kirkuk.I think it has a lot to do with the US shrinking their empire as unsustainable and the policy to fill the void via proxy.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 18 2017 10:22 utc | 61

Posted by: Mina | Oct 18, 2017 5:00:38 AM | 60

NATO seems to have been mentioned. Europe, too, by the way. And Turkey.

Tsipras is in a coalition with a right wing party representing the military. Greece has the highest percentage GDP spending for NATO in the EU. US conflict with Turkey could be an opening for Greece as mediator. Greek defense budget is so high because of a conflict Greece has with Turkey over some islands and Cyprus. In the press conference Tsipras supported EU membership for Turkey.

Poland's very catholic president came out in support of Turkish EU membership too. Germany and France are against. The US are in favor.
I guess Trump has switched the allies in Europe the US are talking to. But if that comes down to Greece and Poland, I am not worried about the repercussions. Last time I checked chances for Nord Stream II looked good.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 18 2017 10:56 utc | 62

Grieved says:

So that the people that willi uebelherr (#41) speaks for - the progressive, communal egalitarians who stand against the old, patriarchal ways - can work on the Kurdish culture and bring it perhaps even one day to the stature of a nation

you mean a nation like Israel?

hey, maybe the Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army can rally a whole new kurdish kulture klub.

whad'ya say?

Posted by: john | Oct 18 2017 11:04 utc | 63

Issad Zahreddine killed by a mine hitting his convoy in Saqr island - so right next to Deir Ezzor... Shit.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Oct 18 2017 11:45 utc | 64

What kind of dream map is this? I'm from Iskenderun of Hatay province in Turkey. Ours is a more tolerant town than the rest of nationalist Turkey and we take pride in our diversity. On the other hand, while we love them, Kurds represent less than 5% of our town's demographics. Similar for Adana province; there are lots of Kurds there but out of the 2 million in that province, they're a minority.

These attempts of justifying land-grabs just to get access to Mediterranean - they're heinous, or pathetic at best. The legend in this map should define the brown area as "areas where Kurds' population exceed 2% (but not necessarily above 50%)"

Posted by: alinko | Oct 18 2017 12:00 utc | 65

Thanks, i ve noticed indeed he talked about Turkey. There is no report about his visit in the French media or just a few lines with no details.

Le Monde as always puts the figure of dead during the Battle of Raqqa as 3,000 including 1,000 civilians. Outrageous.

Posted by: Mina | Oct 18 2017 12:13 utc | 66

From T-Rex to Barzani back in September:

Check page #2

Posted by: Yul | Oct 18 2017 12:40 utc | 68

Factions in Iran and the US have been in cahoots for years, I've always suspected this:

Should US policy against Iran be taken seriously?, by Thierry Meyssan

In the meantime RT provider shut down amid Israeli raids & closure of Palestinian media

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 18 2017 12:44 utc | 69

I said a number of times before - "everything according to the plan". Bravo Eurasia!

How the EU got a big boost after Trump’s Iran move — RT Op-Edge

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 18 2017 13:00 utc | 70

I believe it's true: Israel Is Hiding That Its State-Of-Art F-35 Warplane Was Hit By Syrian S-200 Missile

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 18 2017 13:03 utc | 71

Show me the money or MUST buy American:

QUESTION: I get that. But you’re seeing the Iranian influence vastly greater now, are you not?

MR MCGURK: You’re seeing the Iranians kind of flood the market with some of their products and things. And I think the long-term bet – and it’s something we’re talking with the Iraqis about – we have GE doing multibillion dollar – these are all private deals, not done by the U.S. Government – private deals about long-term electricity generation in Baghdad. That’s being done by General Electric. We have some of the best American oil firms helping to regenerate some of the fields in the south, helping to capture flare gas and export it to Kuwait – the kind of things that make a tremendous, tremendous difference. That’s being done by American firms.

QUESTION: And you see that in Syria, too?

MR MCGURK: Again, Syria long term – long-term reconstruction of Syria is really dependent upon getting a credible political horizon on the table. As I mentioned, Matt – I think you might have stepped out – until there is that credible political horizon, the international community is not just going to – will not be coming to the aid of – to reconstruct Syria. That’s just the reality.


MS NAUERT: Thanks, everybody. Have a great weekend.

MR MCGURK: Thank you.

Posted by: Yul | Oct 18 2017 13:13 utc | 72

De facto the US are cooperating with Iran/and Russia - in Iraq and Afghanistan - since 9/11. Rafsandjani of Iran/Contra fame was certainly put into power to ease negotiations with the US.
Countries need to cooperate to pursue their interests. War is lose-lose. Cooperation win-win.
The error of the US is that they tried to continue the colonialist game of playing the natives against each other to play protector. It does not work in a multipolar world with fast communications.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 18 2017 13:25 utc | 73

OT I know but...

My deepest condolences to the SAA and the Syrian people on the loss of a truly heroic General, Issam Zahreddine.

Posted by: les7 | Oct 18 2017 13:37 utc | 74

@somebody | Oct 18, 2017 9:25 It goes further back: "October Surprise" and "Argo"

However, after becoming president on Feb. 4, 1980, he found his efforts to resolve the hostage crisis thwarted. Bani-Sadr said he discovered that “Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the ‘October Surprise,’ which prevented the attempts by myself and then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 U.S. presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.”

Though Bani-Sadr has talked and written about the Reagan-Khomeini collaboration before, he added in his commentary on “Argo” that “two of my advisors, Hussein Navab Safavi and Sadr-al-Hefazi, were executed by Khomeini’s regime because they had become aware of this secret relationship between Khomeini, his son Ahmad, the Islamic Republican Party, and the Reagan administration.”

Bani-Sadr wrote that after he “was deposed in June 1981 as a result of a coup against me [and] after arriving in France, I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the symbiotic relationship between Khomeinism and Reaganism.”

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Oct 18 2017 17:05 utc | 75

This is *almost* comedic...

Posted by: Elijah | Oct 18 2017 19:37 utc | 76

This is *almost* comedic... Posted by: Elijah | Oct 18, 2017 3:37:37 PM | 76

I almost disagree. In itself, the expected article by Bernard Henri Levi would be almost comedic. Perhaps it was intended as a grand, or at least grandiose, call for honor and justice. But what is the context? Not Le Monde, The Guardian, or NYT but a much modest publication "The Tablet". An audience that certainly knows the meaning of "kvetch".

Just below there is a warm review of a two volume historic epic, describing how Belzer Hasidim made an exodus from the Lower East Side to Borough Park, with an astounding success if I may say so, due to indefatigable efforts of their elders and generous followers.

In the context, the piece of BHL can provide a lot of wholesome joy. Comedy at its best.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 19 2017 19:22 utc | 77

PS. Concerning the comedy, Google Ads (or whatever it is) add necessary spice. How to illustrate "A Belzer Shtibl Boxed Set", Boro Park Hasidim chronicle their past, present, and future in luxuriously printed volumes part yearbook, part history, part social pages, part prayer book

Of course with a photo of hot babes in bikinis that promotes a TV show. On the closer look, ads below the article summaries run in rotation, so periodically the results are humorous.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 19 2017 19:29 utc | 78

Recent report that the formerly SDF-controlled Al-Ezba oil and Conoco gas fields northeast of Deir Ezzor have been "captured" by the SAA.

No word on a battle. Horse-trading between SDF and the Syrian government in the aftermath of the Barzani collapse in iraq?

Posted by: Thirdeye | Oct 19 2017 20:36 utc | 79

According to this report the Conoco field is under Russian control and it is part of a deal.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Oct 19 2017 20:40 utc | 80

Barzani to step down?

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 22 2017 3:33 utc | 81

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