FRAGMENTING KURDISTAN: Iraqi Kurds Take a Neutral Stance Between Iran and the USA

There has been a running hypothesis in Middle East geopolitical circles that Israel and the USA were using the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government as a forward base against Iran.  In fact, Iran has insinuated this for a while. Yet, despite all the talk of direct cooperation against Iran, the KRG has made it clear that they have no intention of allowing third part Iranian Kurdish groups to stage attacks against Iran from Iraq.

A report in Al-Monitor states: “Iraqi Kurds have given reassurances to Tehran that they will not allow Kurdish opposition groups to launch cross-border attacks from Iraqi Kurdistan, a major development in the warming up of relations between Erbil and Tehran. This comes as ties reached a breaking point following the controversial Sept. 25 independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.”

The Kurdish groups this refers to are two in particular, the KDPI and Komalah, which are known as Rojhelat Kurdish groups. In the past both of these groups seek to create an autonomous Kurdish Iranian proto-state similar to the KRG in Iraq and the SDF controlled areas of Syria, yet are mre interested in focusing on the democratization of Iran.

With the KRG attempting to strike a balance between Iranian border needs and Kurdish cohesions and nationalism, assurances that Erbil has given Tehran may just be more lip service.  The KDPI has always enjoyed cross border ovement in the pourous mountain areas between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.  Nothing Erbil does will stop this. However, the lip service may also be a message to the USA over what is perceived by the Iraqi Kurds as a failure of the American government to protect their rights in Kirkuk.

Although the possibility of the Iraqi Kurds outright pivoting to Iran is unlikely, a neutral posture can scramble the US plans for the region.



Putin Shakes Up Syria, by Inviting the Country’s Kurds to Sochi

According to Asharq Al-Awsat Russia has invited Syrian Kurdish authorities to the Congress of the Peoples of Syria.  The congress is a meeting of Syria’s various ethnic groups that is scheduled to be held in Sochi.

The move appears to be part of Putin’s broader strategy of playing the “great balancer” in the Middle East. The Kurdish move achieves three objectives for Russia.

The first is a message to Iran, that Putin is serious about not letting them have free reign in the region. The second objective is the prying of the Kurdish movement away from America.  By offering the Kurds of Syria a seat at the table, Putin wants the KRG in Iraq to know that they to]o can turn to him and achieve better results than relying on the USA who has essentially allowed Iran to cut the Iraqi Kurds off from the outside.

Putin believes that only by playing all sides against one another, can true stability be achieved in the Middle East. With America losing its grip on the region, will Israel now be willing to play ball with  Russia or will Putin find that Israel is the only hold out to his grand plan?


IRAN ON THE MARCH: Trump’s Kurdistan Folly Directly Impacts Israel

The going line coming from Washington over the the joint operation carried out by the Iranian Al Quds Force, Hashd Al-Shaab, and of course the Iraqi Army against Kirkuk, a Kurdish majority city is that this was a minor border disagreement between the Federal authority in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government sitting in Erbil.

The repeated line that there was little fighting is simply not accurate. Our sources on the ground have reported intense fighting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Al Quds Force against factions connected to the Kurds.

Already the Kurdish Peshmerga is withdrawing further North and have withdrawn from cities South of Erbil.

No mention of major Iranian inovolvement can be heard from the Pentagon’s lips. This allowance of major Iranian military movement into Kirkuk and if the Iraqi PM can be believed into the capital of the KRG itself Erbil, then the Trump administration can be rightly seen as a paper tiger , willing to scream and threaten Iran without putting its foot down when the moment arrives to do so.

If the Iran-Iraq army is allowed to use American weapons at will and essentially wreck havoc in the most stable area of what is left of Iraq, then how can the White House be believed on the rest of its commitments in the region.

How Does this Affect Israel?

Israel is dealing with the realization that it is fast becoming surrounded by a Russian protected Shiite alliance made up of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.  Kurdistan’s stability and friendliness to Israel has been known both behind scenes and in recent years out in the open.

The lack of responce by the administration as well as nuanced statements backing the false notion of Federalism within an already divided Iraq essentially provides Iran with the motivation to continue to move to control the region and ultimately threaten Israel, without fear of US response.

President Trump is now seen as weak by the Shiites who are taking advantage of an administration that is more worried about its bark than its bite.

Israel now knows it cannot rely on comments alone from the administration when it comes to stopping Iran, but must demand concrete actions. By allowing the lightening quick occupation of Kirkuk by Iran-Iraq, Trump unknowlingly has set the stage for the very unravelling of his new Iran policy.

The President and his team can still rectify the situation by demanding the Iraqi army hand over all American equipment it is using in breach of its agreement with the US military.  If Baghdad resists, the US military would be justified in bombing the tanks and humvees in the assaults on the Kurds. Furthermore, the US can still now provide air support to enable the Kurdish Peshmerga to even the odds against the Iran-Iraq army.

The longer the President and the Administration in Washington ignores the situation, the faster Iran will move to create an irreversible control over the entire region, which will ultimately isolate Israel.

US Holds Off on Support for Independent Kurdistan, While Israel Sticks By the Kurds

While Israel remains the only country in the world to openly call for an independent Kurdistan, the Trump Administration continues to publicly beg for the Iraqi Kurds to push-off their referendum for independence to be held on September 25th.

“The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intention to hold a referendum later this month,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. “The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat [the Islamic State] and stabilize the liberated areas.”

Of course, the United States should not be surprised by the drive by the Kurds for an independent state. The Kurds have for centuries pushed for their own sovereign country without success.  Now, with the Kurdish Regional Government showing that they are by far the most stable entity in Iraq and have been the biggest reason behind the coalition’s success against ISIS, the drive for independence has been expected.

“We know, by the way, that the State Department and possibly the [Defense Department] are personally contacting members of Congress, senators, representatives, asking them not to support the referendum,” Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, told POLITICO in a recent interview. “We’re very serious about independence. It’s kind of disheartening that for two to three years we talked about a referendum and the U.S. said that it was surprised.”

The US is challenged by the possibility of an independent Kurdistan, because supporting its independence, would essentially collapse the post World War 2 security structure in the Middle East.   An independent Kurdistan in Northern Iraq may only constitute a minority of the total Kurdish population and their homeland in the Middle East, but by the US supporting it, would cause Turkey to disconnect from the West and Iraq to officially declare allegiance to Iran.

Most observers say that this is happening anyway. Given this fact, an independent Kurdistan would be America’s best bet to reach stability in an area being gobbled by the Iranians.

US Wants Kurdish Support Without Giving them Anything Substantial

Ever since the 1991 invasion of Saddam’s Iraq, the US has promised the Kurds of Northern Iraq that they would eventually support their independence, but they would have to agree wait until the opportune time.  They gained autonomy and US protection. Then the US invaded Iraq again and toppled Saddam Hussein in 2002.  The Kurds gained full autonomy inside a federalized Iraq with promises of eventual independence. It has been 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq.

As the rest of Iraq collapsed into chaos well before ISIS, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) prospered.  The US dawdled while Kurds held back ISIS and then when the Defense Department finally dropped in supplies, the Kurds seemed the only group capable of soundly defeating ISIS.

With all of the above, the US still chooses to withhold its support for Kurdistan.

Israel Remains Alone in its Support for Kurdistan

There are many reasons for Israel’s support for an independent Kurdistan.  Most observers believe correctly that it would send a ripple effect to other Kurdish areas, most notably inside Iran, making it especially dangerous to the Ayatollah’s theocratic rule.

Geopolitics aside, Jews and Kurds have a long history together.  Ever since the first exile from Israel, Jews have seen the Kurds whose predecessors were the Medes as friends and allies.  Through the years, both groups were persecuted and remained stateless. In an act of comradery, sensing an unequal status for their ancient allies, today’s Israelis long to help the Kurds achieve what Jews only achieved a short while ago.

September 25th will most likely result in support for independence. The day after may very well bring war, but the Kurds will fight for their homeland knowing if the Jews after 2000 years of exile can achieve it, so can they.


Israel Surrounded as Iran Attempts to Divide Kurds Ahead of Independence

Sources close to us have confirmed that Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Al Qud’s Force is currently paying a visit to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil, Iraq.  The purpose of the visit is to force Masoud Barzani to call off the referendum for Kurdish independence scheduled for September 25th.

Although a calm atmosphere and warm words are expected to be exchanged Barzani would not be able to call off the vote even if he wanted to.  The Kurds of Iraq are prepared to vote overwhelmingly for independence.  Furthermore, Iran like Turkey is scared that this vote will give a strong signal to Kurdish areas in their own countries to begin pushing for their own autonomy if not independence altogether.

Given this, Suleimani has a secondary goal should Barzani not bow to Iran’s threats and that is to create a division between the Iraqi Kurdish leadership and those Iranian Kurdish groups stationed in the Eastern part of the KRG whose aim is to help win autonomy for the 15 million Kurds in North West Iran.

Once again General Suleimani will receive assurances, but these will in fact be empty leaving Iran no choice but to go head to head with the Iranian Kurds post September 25th.

In fact, a large Iranian armed force is already positioned within the Iranian Kurdish region in preparation for decimating the indigenous Kurds who live there.

Iran Seeks to Stop Kurdistan While Preparing to Invade Israel

The issues of an independent Kurdistan and Israel are intertwined in the minds of Iran.  The Iranian regime views Kurdistan as a forward base for what they call the “Zionist Entity.” Breaking a free Kurdistan is key to rolling back a direct threat to their regime in order to have full focus on Israel’s Golan and Galil.  Already, Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria have moved troops into position under Russian protection.

For Israel, who already has defense pacts with Azerbaijan, a free Kurdistan would push back on Iran’s aggressive stance and give Jerusalem a counterbalance.  Knowing that the friendship between Israel and the Kurds goes far back, Iran is now pushing in the extreme to stop Erbil’s plans towards a free and independent Kurdistan.

DEIR AL-ZOR FALLING: Syrian Regime and Kurdish SDF Head for a Showdown

As the talk of chaos and war between the Kurds of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and the Arab areas to the South intensify due to the approaching referendum, something ominous is fast approaching between similar sides in Syria.

The last stronghold of ISIS rests in Eastern Syria in a sparsely populated region called Deir al-Zor. In recent weeks Deir al-Zor has been the focus of intense fighting between the Russian backed Syrian regime and ISIS fighters. Sources on the ground report that the Syrian government forces fought their way to an air base on the outskirts of Deir al-Zor.

Meanwhile the US backed SDF, which is made up of mainly Kurds along with some Arab units is heading for Deir al-Zor from the North. The Kurds shocked the Syrian regime when they essentially declared an independent enclave in Syria’s North.  Similar to their brethren in Iraq, they have become the most effective force to wiping out ISIS.

The Syrian Kurds who make of the bullwark of the SDF have one mission in mind as the approach Deir al-Zor.

“The first step is to free the eastern bank of the Euphrates and the areas Islamic State still holds. We’re not specifying a timeframe but we hope it will be a quick operation,”Ahmed Abu Kholeh head of the SDF military council told Reuters. 

With both armies on a collision course, Deir al-Zor may very well be the first point of many where the US and Russian proxies fight.  The challenge for the Syrian regime, is that the Kurds are far better trained than their Jihadist counterparts.  With Iraq about to be split between the Iranian influenced South and Kurdish controlled North, Syria is on its way to a division between Kurdish and non-Kurdish areas.

Iran and Turkey Are the Big Losers

Whether or not the Syrian Regime and the SDF fight against eachother directly remains to be seen.  What is important to understand is that both the SDF in Syria and the KRG in Iraq in a sense create the very Kurdistan that Turkey and Iran are petrified of.  Afterall, if both the Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Kurds can gain independence what stops the 20 million Kurds in Turkey and the 15 million Kurds in Iran from doing the same thing.

Look for Iran, Syria, and even Turkey to cooperate against what they see as the growing Kurdish threat to their hegemony. It will then be up to Putin to decide how to proceed against the world’s largest group of people still without a state.

Iran is Scared of an Independent Kurdistan

September 25th will be remembered in history as the day which saw the beginning of the unraveling of the post WW1 global order.  When the Kurds of Iraq finally vote for breaking away from Iraq and declaring an independent Kurdish state, the veil covering the artificial boundaries that exist throughout the Middle East will be lifted.

The countries that will be affected directly will not just be Iraq, but Syria, Turkey, and most importantly Iran. Iran itself is home to 15 million Kurds, which is three times the amount of Kurds in Iraq.

Seyyed Mohammad Javad Abtahi an Iranian MP said that President Barzani of the Kurdish Regional Government’s actual plan is to annex Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iran.

“Barzani is seeking to establish an independent Kurdistan consisting of Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk provinces,” he said, and that “Barzani then plans to annex Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria and Iran step by step.”

Iran, has for years treated the Kurdish areas as second class forcibly conscripting Kurds into the army.  The Kurds of Iran actually had an independent state called Mahabat in 1946 until the Shah backed by the USA crushed it. This would effectively mean the Iranians are acutally occupying foreign land.

What bothers Iran the most from an independent Kurdistan is that it would block its advance between Iran and Lebanon.  Not to mention, the KRG itself would act in coordination with Israel and the USA against the growing Shiite crescent.

“But today, new reports show that the US is behind the idea to create a new cancerous tumor like Israel along Iranian borders,” Abtahi said.  “The US claims it is against the referendum but in reality Washington is interested in the idea. It is also investing huge amounts of money in supporting Peshmerga forces.”

Although the Iranians have insisted they will not get involved with internal Iraqi issues, our sources tell us the Iranian military has begun to move its army into Iranian Kurdish areas as well as positioning its forces to be ready to deal with an independent Kurdistan in Iraq.


Why are ISIS Fighters Being Transferred to the Border of Iraqi Kurdistan?

While Syria and Iran have begun to win back ISIS controlled areas in Western Syria, the Kurdistan Region Security Council has noticed that the defeated ISIS soldiers are not being killed or held, but rather transferred to Eastern Syria on the Iraqi border.

“According to an agreement between ISIS terrorists, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, hundreds of ISIS militants left the Lebanese border areas and were taken with their arms and ammunition toward the Iraqi border areas,” the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement released Tuesday.
“We as the Region’s Security Council express our concerns about this action and consider it suspicious. This raises many questions.  We hope that all relevant parties in the region take a serious stance on this action,” the statement added. 

The fighters were transferred to Al Bukamal on the Iraq-Syria border in eastern Deir ez-Zur province, part of the middle Euphrates River valley.  This area has the largest build up of ISIS fighters.  The question remains: Why Syria and Iran would want to strengthen the jihadist’s hands on the border of Iraq instead of wiping them out?

Iran Wants Chaos After Kurdish Independence

The approaching Kurdish referendum on independence is set to take place on September 25th.  An independent Kurdistan puts Iran into a dangerous position.  Afterall, Iran has 15 million Kurds within its borders, mostly in the West on the Iraqi border.

Our analysis indicates that Iran is using ISIS in order to create chaos after the Kurdish referendum.  There is one thing to have a Kurdish state, which is strong and stable.  This would be the last thing Iran wants, but a Kurdish state that has to continuously fight ISIS is one that would pose no threat to Iran.

ISIS, being a Sunni Jihadist organization would simply be ferried across the border into Sunni Iraq and moved North to the KRG.

Essentially, ISIS has become a tool of the Shiites in much of the same way as it was with the Obama administration. Where it goes it creates chaos and with any chaos there is always another party looking to make order.  Iran is now mobilizing to the KRG’s East as well. Kurdistan is essentially surrounded by chaos to its West, Turkey to the North and the Iranian army to its East.

In order for Kurdistan to come out of September 25th as a stable country, the Iranian game of creating as much problems as necessary must end.  This can be done by ensuring the ISIS buildup on the Kurdish border is wiped out. If the Pentagon is truly serious about helping a nascent Kurdistan become an actual state, then it must ensure the ISIS force in Deir ez-Zur is finished before it can create havok for the new state.


US ABANDONS KURDISTAN: Independent Kurdish state would be “Significantly Destabilizing”

With the following statement the US has appeared to backtrack on their support for an independent Kurdish State in Northern Iraq.

“We think that under the Iraqi constitution, there’s an important process of dialogue that has to take place, and having a referendum on such a fast timeline, particularly in disputed areas, would be, we think, significantly destabilizing,” Mr. McGurk told reporters after a anti-ISIS coalition meeting at the State Department on Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend had already begun to dash the Kurdish hopes for US backing when he said the following at the Pentagon last Tuesday:

“You know, I think… the position of our government is that this is not helpful for the campaign, right now, certainly. It’s not helpful in the coalition’s fight, the world’s fight against ISIS.This effort by the KRG to have this independence referendum, whether it’s the right thing to do or not, is not my position to judge. But I do think it’ll have some kind of impact and — and apply additional friction to the campaign.”

What the US is nervous about is the regime in Bahgdad.  The Kurdish Peshmerga was the main party behing the liberation of Mosul.  A ground war that is fought between a seceding KRG and Bahgdad could see the Kurdish Peshmerga actually win, that is if the USA keeps Bahgdad from using fighter jets.

The Kurdish referendum has essentially exposed the USA as playing both sides in Iraq similar to the British strategy in the pre-1948 Palestinian Mandate. On one hand the British high command encouraged Jewish rights to the Land of Israel as well as even using them in World War 2, but when it came to independence the British not only backed the Arabs, they trained and equipped their armies.

The USA has utilized the Kurds to fight ISIS, which is essentially an American creation gone bad, while at the same time keeping back the Kurds from attaining their just independence and now insinuating that they would be blamed for a failure to wipe out ISIS for good. The  USA has picked the Western created state of Iraq instead of the indigenous people of Kurdistan.

A statement from the KRG Representation to the United States said the following:

“The holding of a referendum is the democratic right of the people of Kurdistan and will enable us, for the first time, to determine our future. The outcome of the referendum will lead to negotiations with Baghdad and we ask our friends in the United States to encourage that dialogue so that the settlement is a win-win for both sides.”

The United States appears to be fumbling a golden opportunity to reorder the Middle East along ethnic and indigenous lines, thus ensuring continued sectarian conflict for generations to come.

Is the US About to Abandon Kurdistan?

With the Kurdish Independence referendum for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq coming on September 25th and Mosul now back in the hands of the Iraqi National Armed Forces due to the Kurdish Peshmerga, the international players are nervous over what the implications are for the region and the world if an independent Kurdistan truly rises.

The United States has urged the KRG to hold off on the referendum. The US Congress has even warned the KRG by threatening to withhold funds. The US Congressional Armed Services Committee released their annual National Defense Authorization Act. The language relating to the KRG appears problematic for an indpendent Kurdistan.

“The committee notes that funding provided to the [KRG] is to enhance Government of Iraq-KRG cooperation and support a unified effort to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” the draft National Defense Authorization Act reads. “Such funding should be contingent upon KRG participation in the government of a unified Iraq and on their continued good faith cooperation in the anti-ISIL campaign.”

Although the USA has viewed the Kurdish Peshmerga as integral to the victory over ISIS it appears to be backtracking on backing an independent Kurdistan. With Mosul liberated, the Kurdish Peshmerga is less needed. An independent Kurdistan will create friction if not all out war with Turkey as well as a war with Bagdhad.

This was part of the show of strength by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi as seen by his visit to a liberated Mosul.

Experts quote the Iraq Constitution in pushing back on the illegality of Kurdish independence. Article 1 of Iraqi constitution states: “The Republic of Iraq is a single federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is republican, representative, parliamentary, and democratic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.”

Keeping the above in mind, Kurdistan has for years been moving towards independence.  The KRG believes it is not only entitled to independence, but territory that the Peshmerga gained by fighting ISIS over the last few years.  One such place, Kirkuk, is a strategic Kurdish and Arab city, now fully in the hands of the Peshmerga. The referendum is being held to include Kirkuk in the future Kurdish state. Newly liberated Mosul is also a mixed Kurdish Arab city.

What Does Washington Want?

The USA has for years used the threat of an independent Kurdistan to push back on a chaotic central Iraqi government. Not only that, the Peshmerga has proven itself like its counterpart the SDF in Syria to be the best fighting force on the ground. At the same time the US has played both sides by trying to hold the Kurds back from going all the way.  This they fear will spark a regional war with Turkey, while plunging the rest of Iraq into chaos.

With this in mind, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelled to Turkey to discuss Ankara’s impending invasion of Syrian Kurdistan in Afrin as well as the coming KRG referendum on independence.

With Washington trying to slow down the drive towards indpendence, while at the same time giving tacit support for such a movement, the Kurds feel emboldened in their drive for a free Kurdistan.

Israel Already Backs an Indpendent Kurdistan

In 2014, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, stated that the Kurds were “worthy of their own independence”. Also in January of 2016, Ayelet Shaked, justice minister of Israel, called for an independent Kurdistan. She also expressed that Israel had to openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separated Iran from Turkey, one which would be friendly towards Israel.

Israel has supported Kurdistan covertly, being the regions largest buyer of oil.

September 25th is coming.  With the US once again not clear on its attitude to a independent Kurdistan, the chaos that may result in Iraq and on the Turkish border may unravel the post ISIS celebrations.