Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fake State of Iraq v. Kurdistan

Karim, A. (2007). Iraq nullifies Kurdish oil deals. AFP. 24 November, 2007. Available online: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071124/wl_mideast_afp/iraqoilkurds (from Democratic Underground).

Even discounting the blood and treasure we spill, there are real costs to keeping the fake state of Iraq around. This is one of them:

Iraq's oil ministry has declared all crude contracts signed by the Kurdish regional authorities with foreign companies null and void, a government official said on Saturday.

"The ministry has nullified all contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government," the official told AFP, asking not to be named. "They will not be recognised."

The government in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region has signed 15 exploration and exportation contracts with 20 international companies since it passed its own oil law in August, infuriating the Baghdad government.

Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has in recent weeks angrily denounced the Kurdish authorities for signing the contracts before the national parliament approves a new oil and gas law, declaring them "illegal"


Keeping Iraq as a unified state means the functioning Kurdish north is yoked to the Gappish Shia south, and the Gappish Shia south is tied to the Tony Soprano v. Osama bin Laden funland of the Sunni Arab west.

Iraq should be broken apart as quickly as practical, allowing three very different nations to speed ahead, or fall back, at the rate that is natural for them in this world.

07:33 Posted in Iraq, Oil | Permalink | Comments (6) | Tags: kurdistan

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Iraq Screw-Ups

Bush's incompetence would be hilarious if it wasn't so dangerous.

The latest terrible decision revolve around the Kurds, the "Other Iraq," the independence of which is one of the greatest successes of the Iraq War. President Bush and his dangerous, deluded advisors are doing their best to destroy that success too.



George Bush was the right man in the 2004 election because of his two picks for the Supreme Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Foreign policy wise, it is now clear that John Kerry would have been a better pick. For that matter, nearly anyone would have been a better pick.

An immediate (by the end of February) withdrawal from Iraq would be better than the current policy. An immediate (by the end of February) attack on Iran would be better than the current policy. Bush's current policy of attacking our friends and appeasing our enemies is one of the the worst policies imaginable. Bush, after winning the Iraq War, is doing all he can to lose it.

16:40 Posted in Iran, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (10) | Tags: bush, kurdistan, kurds

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good News from Iraq

"Iraq Violence May Provoke Shiite Backlash," by Patrick Quinn, Associated Press, 7 January 2005, http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAQ?SITE=SDSIO&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT.

"Shiite Crowds Protest Bombings, US Support for Sunni Arabs; 11 GIs Killed," by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 7 January 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2006/01/shiite-crowds-protest-bombings-us.html#comments.

I've celebrated Iranian cooperation with Basra and the strength of Kurdish separatism. Now, more good news from Iraq:

The rallies and threats by the Iraq's largest Shiite religious party to react with force if the militant attacks continue have renewed fears that paramilitary militias - now thought to make up part of some elite police units- would take to the streets and carry out reprisals.

...

"We're going to crush Saleh al-Mutlaq with our slippers," they chanted, many armed with automatic weapons. "No, no to Zalmay. No, no to terrorism." It is an insult in Arab culture to touch someone with shoes, which are considered unclean.

...

The demonstration was organized after Friday prayers by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - one of two religious parties that makes up the governing Alliance.

SCIRI and Badr Brigade Secretary-General Hadi al-Amiri have both blamed hardline Sunni groups of inciting the violence, and said the Defense and Interior ministries - both dominated by Shiites - were being restrained by the U.S-led coalition and had to be unleashed.

He told the pan-Arab Al-Arabyia television that the government told the U.S. "that they should not give any cover to terrorism."


This is exactly what we need in Iraq. Iraq is an artificial country. We can spend blood and will trying to save this relic of British Colonialism, or we can focus on shrinking the gap and building connectivity.

The Kurds in the north make up about 20% of Iraq, and should be their own country. The Shia in the South make up about 60% of Iraq, and should be their own country. There is no reason why these two peoples, who both want connectivity, must be held back by the 15% of Iraqis who belong to a nation unready for the modern world.

If we can connect the 85% of Iraqis who want it by allowing them to defeat terrorist-infested Sunni Arab networks, we should do it.

The prize is bigger than just Iraq. Globalization spreads globalization: let the reverse domino theory work.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari complained while on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia about the poor quality of Saudi preparations for the event. Some 53 pilgrims died when their hostel collapsed. Tragedies during pilgrimage are so frequent that many observers believe the Saudis are neglecting their duties as hosts of the event.

The Saudi minister of the interior, Prince Naef, angrily rejected Jaafari's criticism, saying that he was just posturing in hopes of salvaging his fading political career. (In fact, Jaafari has a real shot of being the prime minister of Iraq again). The Saudis also said they had be nice enough to let the Iraqi delegation come in numbers greater than their allotted quota, implying that Jaafari was being ungracious.

Tension between the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq and the Wahhabi state in Saudi Arabia have been high since September, when a major Saudi prince castigated the United States for spreading Iranian influence in the region by installing Iraqi Shiites in power.


One of the great pay-offs of the Iraq War is permanently weakening Saudi power. The American liberation of Iraq freed Iraq, letting her join Iran as a sister Shia republic on the Persian Gulf. East Arabia, currently occupied by the Saudi Tyranny, is the third



Besides being Shia, East Arabia holds most of the the Saud family's oil. Saudi Arabia applauds terrorism, Saudi TV is as antisemitic as Hugo Chavez, and the Saudis run pro-terrorist camps for children. Helping the Shia in Iraq finally free themselves from the nuisance of Sunni terrorism would allow them to spread their connectivity to their imprisoned brothers in the Saudi south.

Shia Militias that attack terrorist-supporting Sunnis should be welcomed. They are part of a well-built Military-Industrial-SysAdminComplex just as much as firms like Blackwater, or the US Army for that matter. The Shia should rise up, free themselves from terror, and build their future. We shouldn't stop them,

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Good News from Kurdistan

"Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia," by Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 27 December 2005, http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/world/13495329.htm (from America Blog and Democratic Underground).

Very happy news from Kurdistan, an embryo of democracy in the Middle East:

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.


This is fantastic news.

Iraq is an artificial state that should break apart. , that of the Middle East caused by Bush's gift of elections to Iraq, was a wonderful reward for the Iraq War. The trifurcation of Iraq is another.

Dr. Barnett has written a lot about a "," the reconstruction force that should take conquered land and turn them (eventually) into peaceful capitalist democracies. It can barely work as envisioned in the best of cases, and spending vital energy trying to keep imaginary states created by the British and French together is just wasteful. Next time we invade a country like Iraq, rationalization of borders should be assumed from the beginning.

Besides waisting time and effort, trying to keep fake countries together hurts in another way: it can make progress go backwards. Before the Iraq War the Kurds already had a functional democracy. If we are going to pretend that they should be ruled by Ba'ath Revivalists, the Iraq War would have sacrificed a democracy (Iraqi Kurdistan) on the altar of Affirmative Action for Murderers (trying to buy off Arab Sunnis by pretending Arab Sunni political parties are different from Arab Sunni terrorists). Fortunately, the Kurds have had enough.

More on the Kurdish soldiers, preparing to create their New Kurdish Republic

The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.

"It doesn't matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion," said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. "Kirkuk will be ours."

The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they've long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga - literally, "those who face death" - told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.


Happily, the majority Shia are also planning for the dismemberment of Iraq:

Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq's central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.


As I wrote a year ago

A trifurcated Iraqi state would be a success. It would represent a victory for local democracy. It would improve connectivity. And it would prove a valuable warning for future regimes.

Iraq was not democratically created. There were no founding fathers or great constitutional convention after the end of the Great War. It was merely one of four new states (along with Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq) carved out by two victors. Of the original four, one has already disintegrated (Transjordan into Jordan and Israel, which will soon splinter into Israel and Palestine) and another (Lebanon) has lost territorial integrity. Allowing local sovereigns that represent the will of actual peoples would be a step up, if they wish it so.

Iraq has not been connected. Before Saddam Iraq was poor, illiterate, and backwards, and after a brief rebirth it sank almost all the way back again. Even though they were the original Westernizers, it appears that a significant fraction of Iraq's Sunnis are hostile to globalization and connectivity. No people can be pulled ahead unwillingly. Even if modern-term strategy requires us to abandon the Sunni Triangle, hooking Kurdistan and Shia Iraq to the rest of the world, that is a tremendous victory. A free, democratic, and peaceful Kurdistan shows a future worth creating to both Turks and Turkish Kurds. And a non-authoritarian Shia Iraq is a bright light for Shia Iran. The Sunnis represent only 20% of Iraq. 80% victory is not 100% victory, but it is still victory.


Free Sumer! Free Kurdistan! Free East Arabia, for that matter!

Don't spill Coalition blood for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Iraq, Kurdsitan, The Blasted Lands?

"U.S. wants Iraqi government to maintain 'unified state'," Kuwait News Agency, http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=699593, 25 January 2005 (from Roth Report).

Is there serious movement among Shia to allow both Kurdistan and the Sunni Triangle (what's the word for "The Blasted Lands" in Arabic?) to seceed, forming an overwhelming Shia state?

Serious enough to for us to decry it, at least

Responding to reports that Shia provinces in southern Iraq want to form their own political entity similar to the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Tuesday said the United States wants the Iraqi government to organize within "a unified state." Asked by KUNA how concerned the United States would be if Sunni turnout in the Iraqi elections on Sunday was so low that Iraq might eventually splinter into three separate political entities, Boucher said the United States has always supported "Iraq's territorial integrity, and for the ability of Iraqis to work out their politics and their government organization in a system that allows the participation of all Iraqis of different ethnic backgrounds or religious backgrounds -- but always within a unified state."


As long as a unified state is the aim of the Iraqi government, fine. But if the elections on January 1st give a governing party that does not wish a unified state, we should not stop them. Iraqi is their country, and if the Shia do not wish to rule over the Kurds or deal with murderous salafist violence, they should not have too.

I trifurcated Iraqi state would be a success. It would represent a victory for local democracy. It would improve connectivity. And it would prove a valuable warning for future regimes.

Iraq was not democratically created. There were no founding fathers or great constitutional convention after the end of the Great War. It was merely one of four new states (along with Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq) carved out by two victors. Of the original four, one has already disintegrated (Transjordan into Jordan and Israel, which will soon splinter into Israel and Palestine) and another (Lebanon) has lost territorial integrity. Allowing local sovereigns that represent the will of actual peoples would be a step up, if they wish it so.

Iraq has not been connected. Before Saddam Iraq was poor, illiterate, and backwards, and after a brief rebrith it sank almost all the way back again. Even though they were the original Westernizers, it appears that a significant fraction of Iraq's Sunnis are hostile to globalization and connectivity. No people can be pulled ahead unwillingly. Even if modern-term strategy requires us to abandon the Sunni Triangle, hooking Kurdistan and Shia Iraq to the rest of the world is a tremendous victory. A free, democratic, and peaceful Kurdistan shows a future worth creating to both Turks and Turkish Kurds. And a non-authoritarian Shia Iraq is a bright light for Shia Iran. The Sunnis represent only 20% of Iraq. 80% victory is not 100% victory, but it is still victory.

And last, Iraq lost a war. In war, victors have to punish the losing nation to dissuade future aggression. Fiscal punishments do more harm than good, but there are concrete ways to dissuade patriots from fighting on the wrong side. While we gave fortunes to Germany after the Second World War, they lost Prussia and Silesia forever. In East Asia, Japan will never regain Taiwan or Korea. And if Iraq falls apart, the Sunnis will never regain Kirkuk, Baghdad, or Basra. The threat of losing forever is valuable. Pyongyang will be waching. Korean patriots in the North have to realize that one possible future is the annexation by the DPRK into China. Showing them how the Iraqi Sunnis lost forever would be instructive.

I do not favor forcing Iraq to break up. But it would not be serious set back. And it would have its uses.

20:05 Posted in Connectivity, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: kurdistan

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Kurdish Kirkuk

"The Future of Tamin Province and the Future of Iraq," by Spencer Ackerman, Iraq'd, http://www.tnr.com/blog/iraqd?pid=2501, 20 January 2005.

Great, great, great news out of Iraq.

One of the tragedies of Ba'athi rule was the ongoing ethnic cleansing programs instituted by Saddam. Ancient cities, including the Kurdish city of Kirkuk, were cleared of Kurds are "Arabized." In great, great, great news, the Iraqi government has announced that Kurds returning to Kirkuk can vote in the upcoming elections.

This all but guarantees the Kirkuk will eventually be the capital city of a future Kurdistan

THE FUTURE OF TAMIM PROVINCE AND THE FUTURE OF IRAQ: It's looking more and more like the most important election on January 30 won't be the one that determines control of Baghdad. It'll be the one that determines who controls the northern province of Tamim. And a decision by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq makes that a foregone conclusion.

Tamim is the province that contains the multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Arabs, Turkmen and especially Kurds. The province has a population of about 1.2 million people, split roughly evenly between Arabs and Kurds. That equivalence, however, is in no small measure the result of Saddam Hussein's genocide of the Kurds, which encouraged Arabs to move into formerly Kurdish areas. The Kurdish leadership, which routinely refers to Kirkuk as the Jerusalem of the Kurdish people, has as a first-tier objective the control of the city.

Control of the city is tied up in control of Tamim province. Since the invasion of Iraq, a delicate ethnic balance has held over the 40-seat provincial council: Fifteen seats have gone to the Kurds, eleven to Arabs, nine to Turkmen, and seven to Christians, with the remainder distributed amongst smaller factions. But also since the invasion, tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees have been returning to Kirkuk and the surrounding areas; in several cases, returning Kurds have in turn created Arab refugees. The electoral status of these refugees has been in question for months. Recently, the Kurdish leadership threatened to boycott the provincial election entirely unless their refugees were enfranchised in Tamim. This caused no end of bitterness among Kirkuk's Turkmen and Arabs.

On Saturday, the Iraqi electoral commission, apparently deciding that the risk of a Kurdish boycott was unacceptable, announced a deal allowing up to 100,000 Kurdish refugees to vote in Tamim province. The deal effectively guarantees that the Kurds will dominate the Tamim council and the prized city it contains. And that, in turn, has massive implications for the future of Iraq: Under the Transitional Administrative Law, the final status of Kirkuk--that is, whether it is or isn't part of Kurdistan--will be determined after the ratification of a permanent constitution and the holding of a census in the province and the city. That census is now guaranteed to show a Kurdish majority. As George Packer recently wrote in The New Yorker, what comes next is "a foregone conclusion":

[T]he province of [Tamim] will vote to join the autonomous region of Kurdistan, and the city will go with it.


The article goes on with typically inane warnings of a civil war. There is a civil war on, now. Denying there is one, and preventing pro-democracy forces from achieving there due, is little more than pro-insurgent appeasement.

09:45 Posted in Iraq | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: kurdistan, kirkuk, tanmin