Barzani’s Failed Kurdistan Project: A Deathblow To The Partition Of Iraq And Syria

Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media
The project to divide Iraq was dealt a deathblow by a decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to send the Army and the security forces to recover all Iraqi territories controlled by the Kurds of Massoud Barzani. The Kurdish leader was riding the horse of Iraqi partition (in fact, a lame horse) to establish a Kurdish state in the northern part of the country. Following the failure of Barzani’s project in taking advantage of the fight against ISIS and therefore declaring his ‘state’, every country in the Middle East is abandoning him because no one likes to be associated with failure.
Barzani sent envoys (I personally met some) around the globe who returned with apparently promising results: ‘over 80 countries promised to recognise the new State of Kurdistan’. These promises turned out to be false (‘no friends but the mountains’), other (existing) political alliances turned out to be stronger and Barzani was left alone with his empty promises and unreliable advisers.
Countries of the region – France, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to start with – are now establishing a clear and unambiguous relationship with Baghdad’s government. Abadi, following an authorization of parliament, used a fist of iron to fragment the partition project – not only of Iraq – but of the entire region, that was supposed to be sparked off by the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria and via the regime change attempt in the Levant.
In less than 48 hours, the Iraqi army, with all its security services (army, popular mobilization units, Counter-Terrorism, Federal Police), extended its control over Kirkuk, Khanaqin (Diyala), Bashiqa, Makhmour (Nineveh) and Sinjar – the city that leads to the borders with Syria. All territories that were established for Baghdad’s control under the US administrator Paul Bremer in 2003-2004 (with the limits of Kurdistan) are back now in place.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.

China Looking at Taking Stake in Aramco

According to local sources in the Middle East, financial difficulties in Saudi Arabia may see a cash injection coming for its oil industry – Aramco. The Saudis are considering a private placement of its shares instead of a traditional float of shares on the stock exchange. The buyer is of course China.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 14, 2017.

War with Iran Was Planned Decades Ago

Last night, as I reflected on my recent three-part series filled with bold predictions, I began to question whether or not I was being too negative. Upon hearing Trump’s Iran speech today, I became convinced that everything I wrote had merit.
The speech was downright terrifying, serving to confirm all my worst fears about what he’s up to in the Middle East. There’s no way you can listen to that disingenuous rant and not recognize that he’s already made up his mind about war with Iran. What comes next will be a series of U. S. imposed redlines and demands, which Iran will eventually be said to violate, at which point the U. S. will escalate bigly.
I expect the most wretched cretins in America to rally behind the coming war push, including much of the corporate media. We already saw evidence of this earlier today.
What did I tell you. All the biggest hacks in America are going to come out and push this Iran war. — Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) October 13, 2017

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Michael Krieger | Posted Friday Oct 13, 2017.

What Saudis Hope To Get Out Of Russia Ties

Authored by M. K. Bhadrakumr viaThe Strategic Culture Foundation,
The mishap at the Moscow airport on Wednesday when the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived on a historic visit, was a wake-up call that even the most carefully choregraphed enterprises may hold unpleasant surprises.
When Salman exited his plane and stepped out onto the special escalator he travels with, something went wrong. It malfunctioned halfway down, leaving the king standing awkwardly for about 20 seconds before he decided to walk the rest of the way. For ordinary mortals, this wouldn’t have been an uncommon occurrence but divinity ordains when a king is involved.
The Russian-Saudi entente is not going to be smooth. The climactic event last week drawing Saudi Arabia into President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East sphere of influence, must be assessed with a sense of proportions.
Salman had hardly departed from Russian soil when the Pentagon issued a statement announcing that the State Department had on Friday approved a possible US$15-billion sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia.
The statement recalled that Saudi Arabia had requested to purchase from America 44 THAAD launchers, 360 missiles, 16 fire control stations and seven radars.
The US officials confirmed that the sale was part of the $110-billion package of defense equipment and services initially announced during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May. The Pentagon statement said, ‘This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.

Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically.
The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U. S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world – as displayed during the Obama Administration – are facts.
The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization.
***
The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally.
King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.

MYANMAR: A Confrontation Between China and ‘Political’ Islam

You are probably aware that you are incompletely informed about what is brewing in Myanmar, and you probably haven’t heard about the military coalition that is preparing to attack that country. And yet, as Thierry Meyssan reveals here, these current events have been in preparation by Riyadh and Washington since 2013. Don’t take sides before you read this article and digest the information.
Pursuing its Grand Strategy of extending the theatre of war [1], the Pentagon is at the same time preparing the instrumentation of the Kurds in the Greater Middle East, a civil war in Venezuela and a war of attrition in the Philippines. However, these conflicts will have to wait for the implementation of a fourth theatre of operations – namely Burma, China’s next-door neighbour.
During the meeting of the UN Security Council on 28 September, the US ambassador and several of her allies accused Myanmar’s coalition government of genocide [2]. This loaded word – which, in European law, designates the massacre of a great number of people, but in US law applies to a method of killing, even if the criminal kills only one person – is enough for Washington to justify a war, with or without the backing of the Security Council, as we saw in Yugoslavia [3]. The meeting of the Security Council was held at the request of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
In order to make the facts correspond to their narrative, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, which had celebrated Aung San Suu Kyi and the Buddhist monks for their non-violent resistance to the dictatorship of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) during the Saffron revolution in 2007 [4], simply redefined the Burmese army, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi [5], and all the Buddhists in the country [6] as ‘the bad guys’.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 8, 2017.

Come, You Masters of War

[America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew J. Bacevich (New York: Random House, 2016; 480 pages]
America’s military involvement in the Middle East began in classic imperial fashion, according to military historian and retired Army colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. They had something we needed, and we made sure we had access to it. ‘Oil has always defined the raison d’tre of the War for the Greater Middle East,’ he writes in the first paragraph of his magisterial work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East. ‘Over time, other considerations intruded and complicated the war’s conduct, but oil as a prerequisite of freedom was from day one an abiding consideration.’
By 1969, oil imports already made up 20 percent of the daily oil consumption in the United States. Four years later, Arab oil exporters suspended oil shipments to the United States to punish America for supporting Israel in the October War. The American economy screeched to a halt, seemingly held hostage by foreigners – a big no-no for a country accustomed to getting what it wants. Predictably the U. S. response was regional domination to keep the oil flowing to America, especially to the Pentagon and its vast, permanent war machine.
The Middle East was now a U. S. military priority, and the pursuit of direct American domination of the region came from none other than the supposed peacenik, Jimmy Carter. Before him, Richard Nixon was content to have the Middle East managed by proxies after the bloodletting America experienced in Vietnam. His arch-proxy was the despised shah of Iran, whom the United States had installed into power and then armed to the teeth. When his regime collapsed in 1979, felled by Islamic revolutionaries who would eventually capture the American embassy and initiate the Iranian hostage crisis, so too did the Nixon Doctrine. That same year, the Soviet Union rolled into Afghanistan. The world was a mess, and Carter was under extreme pressure to do something about it, lest he lose his bid for a second term. (He suffered a crushing defeat anyway.)

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 7, 2017.

Is Saudi Arabia’s Grand Strategy Shifting?

Even in this era of global paradigmatic changes, Saudi Arabia’s shifting grand strategy is perhaps one of the most surprising developments to occur thus far, but the fast-moving Russian-Saudi rapprochement is likely to provoke an Iranian ‘zero-sum’ reaction which could complicate Moscow’s multipolar efforts in managing the ‘New Middle East’.
***
Most observers were taken aback by what to many seemed to be the inexplicable visit of Saudi King Salman to Moscow this week, wondering how and why the two long-standing Great Power rivals were able to get so close to one another in such a short period of time – and apparently without much public fanfare, too – in making this historic event possible. The usual Alt-Media demagogues decried this as a sellout of Russia’s fundamental national interests, with the most extreme pundit-provocateurs even ranting that it amounts to President Putin siding with ‘terrorists’ such as Daesh and Al Qaeda, especially in light of Moscow’s decision to sell the much-vaunted S-400 anti-air missile systems to Riyadh and even set up a Kalashnikov production plant in the Kingdom.
Had the Saudi Arabia of 2017 been the same country as it was half a decade ago, or even last year for that matter as some could argue, then there might be some rhetorical substance to this outlandish claim no matter how false it would still be, but what most people don’t realize is that Saudi Arabia is in the process of comprehensive changes to its foreign and domestic policies, and that there’s a very high likelihood that it will moderate its traditional behavior in becoming a more responsible actor in international (and especially regional) affairs. A lot of this has happened away from the public eye, at least in the sense that the developments weren’t ‘sexy’ enough to draw widespread attention from most media outlets and commentators, but these piecemeal changes have altogether contributed to the formation of what looks to be a totally new grand strategy.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.

Trump Expected To “Decertify” Iran Nuclear Deal Next Thursday

Update: Confirming our note from earlier this morning, the Washington Post has just confirmed that President Trump will deliver a speech next Thursday to officially announce plans to “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran. According to WaPo, Trump is expected to lay out a broader strategy with respect to Iran but will stop short of reimposing sanctions that would nullify the agreement.
President Trump plans to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on an emerging White House strategy for Iran said Thursday.
The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U. S. sanctions against Iran, which would blow up a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities that the country reached in 2015 with the U. S. and five other nations.
Trump is expected to deliver a speech, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12, laying out a larger strategy for confronting the nation it blames for terrorism and instability throughout the Middle East.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Russia, Saudi Arabia Announce Billons In Energy, Military Deals, During Historic King Salman Visit

Two days ago, when we previewed the first ever visit by a Saudi King to the Russian capital – a move which prompted Bloomberg to call Russian president Putin the “new master of the Middle East” – we pointed out that according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, a joint Russian-Saudi fund to invest in the energy sector will be announced during the forthcoming visit of the Saudi King to Moscow, and that the preliminary agreement to establish the $1 billion fund has already been reached.
Fast forward to today when diplomatic history was made on Thursday, when Putin met with the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – the first state visit to Russia by a reigning Saudi monarch – and the launch of a new level of relations between the countries, as well as billions in new energy-focused deals (for more on the strategic implications from the summit, please read this).

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Chris Hedges On The End Of Empire: “The Death Spiral Appears Unstoppable”

The American empire is coming to an end. The U. S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U. S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
***
The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book ‘In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,’ by ‘a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg’ that will ‘forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Here’s How Much of Your Taxes Have Gone To Pay For Wars Since 9/11

Previously unreported Pentagon data shows how much the average U. S. taxpayer has paid for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria. According to the two page report summary, the cumulative estimated cost of the 16 year war in the Middle East has cost each taxpayer $7,500.
According to Defense One, Americans paid the most for the wars in 2010, an average of $767 per taxpayer. Since the peak, the annual amount has declined to $289 this fiscal year and $281 projected for 2018. By October of 2018, the Pentagon’s share of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria will have collectively cost taxpayers more than $1.5 trillion, according to the Department of Defense.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 1, 2017.

Episode #204 – SUNDAY WIRE: ‘International Norms’ with guests Annie Machon, Adam Garrie, Syrian Partisan Girl

Episode #204 of SUNDAY WIRE SHOW resumes on Oct 1st, 2017 as host Patrick Henningsen brings you this week’s LIVE broadcast on the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR) – covering all the top news stories both at home and internationally…
LISTEN LIVE ON THIS PAGE AT THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULED SHOW TIMES:
5pm-8pm UK Time | 12pm-3pm ET (US) | 9am-12am PT (US)
This week the SUNDAY WIRE is broadcasting LIVE from the UK as host Patrick Henningsen joined is in-studio by special guest, Adam Garrie, editor of the The Duran, covering the biggest stories internationally. In the first hour, we’ll cover the fall-out from the recent Kurdish referendum, as well as London’s Uber taxi controversy. In the first hour we’ll also connect with former M15 whistleblower Annie Machon, to discuss the state and corporation’s tightening noose around civil liberties and the restriction free access of information, and we’ll look at how mainstream Russiaphobia and America’s Russiagate are pushing the West back into a New Cold War. In the second hour we’ll connect with Syrian and blogger and activist Mimi Al-Lahamaka Syrian Partisan Girl, to her 7 year battle to get the truth out about her home country and the Middle East, as well as discuss ISIS in retreat in Deir Ezzor, Syria, and also the Kurdish issue. Later, we’ll also connect with on of London’s premier street poets, artist Bryan ‘Beedy Man’ Wilson, for a live spit about poli-tricks and the wars in our name. Enjoy the show…

SUPPORT 21WIRE – SUBSCRIBE & BECOME A MEMBER @21WIRE. TV
Strap yourselves in and lower the blast shield – this is your brave new world…
*NOTE: THIS EPISODE MAY CONTAIN STRONG LANGUAGE AND MATURE THEMES*

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 1, 2017.

JARED KUSHNER REGISTERED TO VOTE IN NEW YORK…AS A WOMAN

JUST IN: Kushner registered to vote in New York as a female pic.twitter.com/wBEgaf7nEB
— The Hill (@thehill) September 27, 2017

According to public records, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is registered as a female voter in New York. Kushner allegedly checked the wrong box when he registered to vote in 2009.
The husband of first daughter, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner is president Donald Trump’s senior advisor. But he’s also registered to vote as a woman. According to The Hill, democratic opposition research group American Bridge first spotted the error, which Wired then reported first.
‘Kushner can’t even fill out the most basic paperwork without screwing it up, so it’s a mystery why anyone thinks he’s somehow going to bring peace to the Middle East,’ Brad Bainum, a spokesperson for the group, told Wired about the mistake. ‘Would anyone but the president’s son-in-law still have a West Wing job after repeated disclosure errors and a botched a security clearance form?’

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on SEPTEMBER 27, 2017.

‘KURDISTAN’- Redrawing the Middle East or the ‘New Middle East’ Project

21st Century Wire says…
In the light of the recent, hotly contested Kurdish referendum in Iraq, we have decided to republish a series of articles that have been written previously, concerning the history and evolution of the bid for independence by the Kurdish factions seeking to carve Kurdistan from territory belonging to Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
The first of these articles was written by eminent specialist in Middle East affairs, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, for Global Research back in 2006:
Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a ‘New Middle East’
‘Hegemony is as old as Mankind…’ -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U. S. National Security Advisor
The term ‘New Middle East’ was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the ‘Greater Middle East.’
This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. The term and conceptualization of the ‘New Middle East,’ was subsequently heralded by the U. S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister at the height of the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice had informed the international media that a project for a ‘New Middle East’ was being launched from Lebanon.
This announcement was a confirmation of an Anglo-American-Israeli ‘military roadmap’ in the Middle East. This project, which has been in the planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on September 27, 2017.

Iran Releases Video Showing Off Brand New Ballistic Missile

On Friday, we reported that in the latest snub by President Hassan Rouhani to the Trump administration, on Friday the Iranian president said Tehran would continue its missile program in defiance of US sanctions, and to underscore the determination, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard unveiled its newest long-range ballistic missile during a military parade in Tehran. The newly unveiled missile is capable of reaching most of the Middle East, including Israel, with a range of 1,200 miles. It’s also capable of carrying several warheads.
Rouhani addressed the parade in Tehran, saying that Iran would not halt its missile program but continue to boost military capabilities, despite U. S. demands. ‘We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities … We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country.”
And to demonstrate just that, a few hours later Iran media released footage of the successful test-firing of the ballistic missile that was unveiled just hours earlier,.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 23, 2017.

The Syrian ‘Opposition’, Who Are They and What Motivates Them?

Camille Otrakji
Creative Syria – 2015
[Editor’s note: this article was written in 2015] ‘America and France should broaden their outreach to Syrian dissidents, human rights groups, artists, professors – indeed, almost anyone who’s willing to talk with outsiders. They should convey the message that the West is standing with the Syrian people as they move into the future. When Syria is truly ripe for change, these helping hands can ensure a safe passage.’ ~ David Ignatius, a 2005 article titled ‘Careful with Syria’
The ‘America and France’ that Mr. Ignatius called on to motivate Syrians to rebel against their government was actually a group of westerners residing in Damascus: Diplomats, NGO management and staff, resident journalists and professional photographers, students studying Arabic in Damascus. Not all of course, but many.
There are three different headings under which countries in the Middle East are classified as far as the United States is concerned;
Most valuable allies; Israel and Saudi Arabia Well-behaved allies; Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt (and many more) Pressure/destabilization targets; Syria, and Iran. If Syria’s authoritarian leadership (‘regime’) had an inherent propensity to distrust the intentions of resident foreigners eager to befriend Syrians, their extensive experience with the consequences of such contacts turned their caution into paranoia. They would question or detain anyone who travels to attend private meetings, workshops or conferences without prior arrangements with the Syrian security services. Syrians who frequently visited foreign embassies in Damascus (4thof July events, dinners at Ambassador’s house …etc.) were never trusted again.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on SEPTEMBER 23, 2017.

Russia Warns US In Unprecedented “Secret” Face-To-Face Meeting Over Syria, But What’s The Endgame?

The moment the first Russian jet landed in Syria at the invitation of the Assad government in 2015, Putin placed himself in the driver’s seat concerning the international proxy war in the Levant. From a strategic standpoint the armed opposition stood no chance of ever tipping the scales against Damascus from that moment onward. And though US relations with Russia became more belligerent and tense partly as a result of that intervention, it meant that Russia would set the terms of how the war would ultimately wind down.
Russia’s diplomatic and strategic victory in the Middle East was made clear this week as news broke of “secret” and unprecedented US-Russia face to face talks on Syria. The Russians reportedly issued a stern warning to the US military, saying that it will respond in force should the Syrian Army or Russian assets come under fire by US proxies.
The AP reports that senior military officials from both countries met in an undisclosed location “somewhere in the Middle East” in order to discuss spheres of operation in Syria and how to avoid the potential for a direct clash of forces. Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks as the Syrian Army in tandem with Russian special forces are now set to fully liberate Deir Ezzor city, while at the same time the US-backed SDF (the Arab-Kurdish coalition, “Syrian Democratic Forces”) – advised by American special forces – is advancing on the other side of the Euphrates. As we’ve explained before, the US is not fundamentally motivated in its “race for Deir Ezzor province” by defeat of ISIS terrorism, but in truth by control of the eastern province’s oil fields. Whatever oil fields the SDF can gain control of in the wake of Islamic State’s retreat will then used as powerful bargaining leverage in negotiating a post-ISIS Syria. The Kurdish and Arab coalition just this week captured Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil and gas fields northeast of Deir Ezzor city.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

“We Will Not Seek Permission”: Defiant Iran Unveils New Ballistic Missile

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered another snub to the Trump administration on Friday when he said that Iran would continue its missile program in defiance of US sanctions, and to underscore the determination, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard unveiled its newest long-range ballistic missile during a military parade in Tehran.
The new missile that was introduced at the parade is capable of reaching much of the Middle East, including Israel, with a range of 1,200 miles. It’s also capable of carrying several warheads. The parade in Tehran commemorated the 1980s Iraq-Iran war. Though Iran has long boasted of having missiles in the same range in its arsenal, it was the first time that the new Khoramshahr missile was displayed in public, the AP reported adding that in February, Iran test-fired the same medium-range type of missile, prompting Trump to say that the United States is “putting Iran on notice.”
Friday’s parade also showcased various Iranian army units and Revolutionary Guard forces, as well as the police, according to the Associated Press. Similar parades were held in other Iranian cities.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

Iraqi Kurdistan Prepares for a Vote That Will Shake Nations

In less than a week, the largest nation in the world without a state of its own – the Kurds – may finally hold a vote on whether to declare one. The approaching independence referendum, which Iraqi Kurdistan has planned for Sept. 25, marks the culmination of a long-running battle between the Kurdish government in Arbil and the central government in Baghdad. Thanks to the former’s disarray and the latter’s international backing, the vote seems doomed to fail in producing a distinct territory that the Kurds may call home. However, it could set Iraqi Kurdistan on a path toward greater autonomy, shaking the region from its stagnation and threatening further instability in the volatile Middle East.
A Cause That Unites and Divides
Though a familiar (and often futile) refrain throughout Iraq’s history, calls for Kurdish independence have recently reached a crescendo. To most Iraqi Kurds, the referendum is a legitimate attempt to increase their autonomy from a central government that they believe to be unresponsive to their needs. Moreover, many within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) believe that the promise of a vote – whether or not it is actually held – will help solve the troubled region’s financial and political woes by giving Arbil leverage over Baghdad in the governments’ negotiations over budget battles, the distribution of oil revenue and the status of disputed territories.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 09/21/2017.