By Aram Mirzaei
Last Sunday, the Kurdish regional authority defied the world and went forward with the scheduled independence referendum in Northern Iraq. With the definite result of the referendum not being official yet, there can be little doubt that an overwhelming majority of Kurds have voted Yes to independence. Despite Kurdish leaders announcing that the referendum is non-binding and that it is only the beginning of a negotiation with Baghdad on secession, Kurdish leaders hope that independence will be recognized by the central government sooner rather than later.
In the early stages of the Syrian conflict, and later during the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) many Western leaders claimed that the Middle East was facing changes. They were most likely referring to the establishment of an “Islamic emirate” in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq, which the Western powers helped to create. Today, the jihadist threat is on the verge of annihilation but peace still seems to be very far away from this conflict-ridden region. Why?
Where Moscow has had influence over the course of the Syrian war, Washington has had influence over the Iraqi conflict. Washington has used its influence in Iraq to exploit the situation in Syria in numerous ways. According to reliable sources, before the battle of Mosul began last year, the Iraqi military and its allies were planning to liberate the western Al-Anbar province, the largest and most troublesome province of Iraq. Only after liberating this crucial province which happens to border Syria, were the Iraqi Armed Forces to target the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh. According to sources in Baghdad, the US military command however rejected this idea and refused to offer any support if Nineveh (Mosul) was not liberated before Al-Anbar.
The US plan was simple: push ISIL towards Syria, lift the pressure of the Kurds by preventing ISIL to flee north and stir more trouble Russia and Syria’s way. Had Iraq decided to attack Al-Anbar first, ISIL would have been severely weakened across the Syrian-Iraqi border and pushed towards a well prepared Iraqi Kurdistan. This act would have also supported the Syrian Army and prevented the US from threatening to take Syria’s major oil fields in the eastern Deir Ezzor province. But most importantly, the border area would have probably been under Hashd Al-Shaabi control, thus preventing US troop movement between Syria and Iraq.
It is clear that the US has planned these moves and meticulously implemented it piece by piece in order to delay the inevitable fall of its ISIL proxies, only to be replaced by its newer and more “legitimate” (in the eyes of Western audiences) proxies.
The Kurdish narrative, one that has been hyped by the media to portray a people, fighting against impossible odds in one of the most “repressive regions” against the most “radical and violent” regimes in the world, has been almost universally accepted in the West. Today, many Western officials consider the Kurds as the only serious partner in the fight against ISIL, despite Kurdish regional government (KRG) president Masoud Barzani openly welcoming the ISIL occupation of Mosul in 2014 because it presented him with an opportunity to partition Iraq.
But Barzani’s shady relationship to ISIL is not a concern for Western powers when it comes to facts. Facts are that Kurds in Iraq control 20 % of Iraq’s oil resources and exports approximately 600 000 barrels per day via Turkey. The Oil has been a major source of dispute between the central government in Baghdad and the KRG especially since 2011 when the KRG signed a deal with US oil giant Exxon Mobil without the approval of the Central government.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the US goal of partitioning Syria and Iraq is to push back Russian and most importantly Iranian influence in the region, and tearing up the century old Sykes-Picot agreement in favour of a sectarian and ethnically divided Middle East is a perfect way to do it. Establishing a Kurdish state in Syria and Iraq would also open the path for further partitioning along sectarian lines – namely a Sunni Iraq and a Shia Iraq. This would leave both Syria and Iraq as severely weakened rump states and the Syria-Iraq-Iran-Hezbollah alliance in danger, but above all, it would guarantee the survival of Washington’s most precious gem in the region – Israel. It could be argued that the establishment of a Kurdish state was the primary goal right from the start of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, but that doesn’t take into account that the primary goal in Syria was to overthrow the Syrian government and control all of Syria rather than just parts of it. Partitioning Syria and Iraq was an option only after 2015 when it became evident that the Jihadist emirate project would fail and that Syria would survive.
Washington’s plan will however be challenged. Not only will the US have to deal with Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian resistance, but it will have to deal with its ally Turkey, who will not under any circumstances back down on this question.
Iranian opposition to the referendum has long been known and Tehran’s first reaction was to close it’s airspace to the Iraqi Kurdistan region. “With the request of Iraq’s central government, all Iranian flights to Sulaimaniyah and Erbil as well as flights passing through our airspace to the Kurdistan region have been suspended,” said Kayvan Khosravi, the spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council..
Several Iranian officials have also called out Barzani and the Kurdish referendum for what it is; a Zionist plot. Meanwhile, on Sunday, it was also reported that Erdogan and Rouhani had held a phone conversation discussing the referendum, while Iraq and Turkey have agreed to hasty military exercises close to the Iraq-Turkey border. This, coupled with Damascus opposition to the creation of a Kurdish state, presents a unique situation where Tehran, Ankara, Damascus and Baghdad are all united on a question. These countries can and will overcome their differences and otherwise conflicting objectives in Syria in order to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state.
Turkey, Washington’s ally in the region has voiced strong opposition to the Iraqi Kurdish referendum, despite the KRG-Turkish relations prior to this being excellent. Turkish president Erdogan went as far as threatening military intervention stating that “Our military is not (at the border) for nothing. He also added: “We could arrive suddenly one night.”
Whether Erdogan will “arrive suddenly one night” or not is uncertain. What however is for certain is that the US is not concerned about Erdogan and Turkey’s reaction to the establishment of a Kurdish state in both Iraq and Syria even though Washington and Ankara are supposedly allies. Erdogan has since last year’s coup d’état attempt been considered a loose cannon for Washington and applying pressure on Ankara and a Turkish leader, who keeps cooperating with Russia and Iran against Washington’s objectives might not seem a bad idea for the US.
Turkey feels that it has been betrayed by the US. Ankara seeks closer ties to Tehran and Moscow because it feels that Turkish calls to halt Syrian Kurdish advances on its southern borders are being ignored by Washington and the West. As mentioned, Turkey, along with all concerned states will do whatever it takes to prevent the creation of Kurdistan. It is for this reason that Turkey sent its forces into Al-Bab, disregarding Washington’s warnings and prevented Rojava from linking up with the Afrin canton and occupying all of northern Syria. It is also for this reason that Iran and the Hashd Al-Shaabi forces closed the path for US forces in southern Syria, thus preventing any further US occupation along the Syrian-Iraqi border. In Syria, the Kurdish “federation” will likely push Damascus and Ankara into deeper cooperation, setting aside their differences.
It is clear why the Anglo-Zionist Empire wants to partition Iraq and Syria. It is also clear that Barzani is not insane, he would not go down this path if it was a suicidal one. He knows that he can count on international recognition to protect his ambitions of a Kurdish state when the time comes, despite verbal rejection from the US and the UK today. Despite an independent Kurdistan being surrounded by powerful hostile states, there are other countries in the region ready to support it, namely Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel has openly declared its support for a Kurdish state, this should not come as a surprise, but Saudi Arabia has often been overlooked.
The Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim Muhammad has already praised Saudi Arabia’s role in Syria and attacked Iran, it is only a matter of time before Barzani does the same with the KRG’ neighbours being hostile and Saudi Arabia happily wanting to pull the Kurds into its sphere of influence to use against Iran.
Project Kurdistan is the final chapter of the Anglo-Zionist plan to change the map of the Middle East. The US actions are polarizing the Middle East beyond anything previously seen during our lifetime. The end of the so called Islamic State by next year is certain, the future and survival of the region however is in danger.