Though largely ignored by the mainstream media, significant events have taken place in Iraq recently which indicate that the Iraqi nation is close to splitting in pieces. I suggested in a previous post that the map of the entire Mideast could be redrawn before too long and that entire alliances might be rearranged. It appears the latter part of that statement is coming to pass, as we will see in this post.
The first link reports that the federal government of Iraq, based in Baghdad and the northern Kurdish autonomous region were close to open war last month (did you hear that on any media?). The Iraqi central government is dominated by Shiite Moslems close to Iran and the western provinces of Iraq are dominated by Sunni Moslems who are close to their tribal/religious allies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The northern Kurdish region is a power unto itself and is practically functioning as a de facto nation-state already. The Kurdish and Shiite-dominated Iraqi forces had an armed stand-off near a northern Iraqi town in an oil-producing region in which each issued warnings to the other and the Kurds confronted the Iraqi central government military forces with about 200 main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers of their own.
The second link adds more information and may explain why open warfare has not erupted between the Kurds and the Iraqi central government. First, some background information. The post-American occupation Iraq government had a Shiite Prime Minister and a Sunni second-in-command in a power-sharing arrangement. The Shiite Prime Minister issued an arrest warrant for his Sunni deputy in what many Sunnis saw as a power grab with trumped-up charges. The Sunni Deputy leader sought (and received) sanctuary among the northern Kurds. The Sunni deputy leader knew the Kurds had the firepower to protect him. The Kurds may have played their cards very smartly. This action curried favor with Sunni Moslems in the region and later the Kurds cooperated with their historic rivals, the Turks, in transferring the Iraqi Deputy leader to the Turks for protection.
Now back to the present situation. The second link reports that Turkish-Kurdish cooperation has blossomed immensely since the Kurds protected the Sunni Iraqi leader. The Turks are Sunni Moslems as are the Saudis, Jordanians and others in the region. The Kurdish President inspected his troops along the “battlefronts” with Iraqi Shiite-led forces and the Iraqi Prime Minister called this action “a declaration of war…” However, the Iraqi Shiite central government did nothing in the way of military action. Why? Things have warmed considerably between the Kurds and the Turks. Turkey and the Kurdish government are negotiating directly on oil and gas development projects in northern Iraq and “massive Turkish investment” may be in the offing. It is most significant that the Turkish government is dealing directly with the Kurdish government as if it were a nation-state already. The Iraqi central government was bypassed by Turkey in these negotiations about energy development in what is supposedly part of Iraq. Given that the Kurds are welcoming Turkish investment money in their autonomous region, the Iraqi central government could find itself facing Turkish forces (protecting Turkish development interests) as well as Kurdish forces if they fought against the Kurds. Indeed, if the central Iraqi government went to war against the Kurdish region, the Kurds might win the war on their own. The third link details that the Kurds are a very well-armed region and their Peshmerga forces are cohesive and highly-motivated. I doubt the Iraqi central government forces are either.
Interestingly, the USA opposes the direct Turkish-Kurdish cooperation efforts. I suspect the US government is indirectly representing the interests of US oil companies in the matter, but the USA has little influence left in Iraq. I can’t help but observe that the rest of the world sees the debacle that the US government has made of its own finances. I further think the rest of the world is concluding that a nation which cannot handle its own finances with any skill need not be taken as seriously any more as it once was.
So will Iraq spit apart? I think in the real world it already has.