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.

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.