Thursday, June 8, 2017

You can always count on the Middle East to present the world with the thorniest challenges

This one will really whack the hornet's nest, but no one can say it comes out of left field. The Kurds have been arguably the most stable demographic in the area where Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey converge. Life goes remarkably smoothly there. But they realize it would go yet more smoothly if they had their own country. And so it will come to a referendum:

Forget the Fourth of July — mark your calendars for September 25thfor some real fireworks. After years of attempting to work within the US-built federal system in Iraq, the Kurds in the northern region have decided they like autonomy so much that they want to make it official. The president of the regional government announced on Twitter today that they will hold a referendum on independence — and a rather bland statement from Baghdad makes it sound like they won’t put up much of a fight:
The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq will be held in the three governorates that make up the Kurdish region and in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and Iraqi governments but are currently under Kurdish military control.
It is not clear whether a ‘yes’ vote, which is expected to be the result, will lead to the declaration of independence. The Iraqi government has so far not reacted to the announcement. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in April that he respects the Kurdish right to vote on independence, but he did not think the timing was right for the move.
Iraq’s Kurdish region, with a population of about 5 million, already enjoys a high degree of autonomy, including its own parliament and armed forces. But relations with the central government in Baghdad have nosedived in recent years over a range of issues. These include the sharing of oil revenues and the control of some areas that are technically part of federal Iraq but have come under Kurdish control since 2014 during the war against the Islamic State group.
And you thought the Qatar crisis could create a bombshell in the Middle East. Both Turkey and Syria have suppressed separatist Kurdish movements for decades, and Turkey in particular opposes even the autonomy under which the Iraqi Kurds have operated since the 1991 Gulf War, and officially so since the 2003 Iraq War finally deposed Saddam Hussein. This was one of the outcomes Turkey predicted from having the US back the Kurds on both occasions and in the Syrian fight against ISIS.
Turkish president Erdogan and prime minister Yildrim are both on record indicating that such a move could trigger a war. And Baghdad would surely object to losing the peshmerga element in its military.

Ironic that a move to go sovereign by the most level-headed party in the area would be so volatile.

Then there is the sudden switcharoo by Squirrel-Hair on Qatar:

The Associated Press reports that President Donald J. Trump offered Wednesday to personally broker a resolution to the Persian Gulf’s escalating diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors:
In a phone call with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, Trump said he wanted to help Qatar and its Arab neighbors resolve the row that has upended any sense of Gulf unity, suggesting a possible White House summit among leaders. Though Trump again said countries must eliminate funding streams for terror groups, the White House said he focused on the need for the region’s various U.S. allies to stick together.
That’s a yuge reversal from President Trump’s position, tweeted on Tuesday, that Qatar enables terrorism.
So let's say he gathers them all at the White House for a summit. Who among the invitees is going to set store by anything said there? It's clear to Arab-state leaders, like it is to everyone else, that any damn thing is liable to fly out of S-H's mouth at any damn time.


  1. Yep! And he is no improvement over his predecessor, Andrew Jackson portrait in the Oval Office and all..,

  2. At least Bill Clinton revered a cat like Jefferson. Not sure who Obama's totem was, you?

  3. Bedouins are special, maybe they need to work out territory on there own?