Firstly, I am not posting this to criticize the diary currently on the Rec list "Something Weird is Happening in Kurdistan" by bink.
His reaction to the story about Hunt Oil seeking an independent deal with Iraqi Kurdistan is appropriate.
I am just taking this opportunity to point out that there is not too much surprising about Hunt Oil's actions. The failure of present US Policy in Iraq is inevitable, and opportunistic corporations are putting their money where the future opportunities will be.
On September 14, I posted a diary about the likelihood of a coming partition of Iraq, and presented evidence of the possibilities and pitfalls of Joe Biden's plan to preemptively partition Iraq, which balances our clear need to withdraw with humanitarian concerns about what happens to the Iraqis we leave behind.
Although I certainly am not announcing a Biden for President endorsement, his Iraq plan is the most serious and thoughtful of any I have read. Indeed, the Brookings institute published a major analysis (PDF) of partition in June, suggesting partition was the best "Plan B" if (when) our present strategy of a strong central government failed.
The reality of why Hunt Oil is making a deal with Kurdistan
I believe that (unlike our Government) American business are responding to the clear failure of our policies and positioning themselves to profit from the eventual reality of partition:
- If our strong centralize government plan fails (as it looks to do), then Iraq will partition, either softly (with our and the UN help, "Soft Partition") or violently (auto-segregation along sectarian lines, "Hard Partition").
- The Kurds sit on 15% of Iraqi Oil Reserves. They are most happy about removal of Saddam and possible partition and hence the most favorable toward US interests long term. Kurdistan is relatively safe and stable now, and their present leaders will likely remain leaders if partition comes.
- Sunnis (with 20% population and less than 10% oil reserves) in partition will be left without major oil reserves and will be seething at the loss of empire perpetrated by De-Baathification. Forget about a Pro-US regime with American business opportunities.
- Shiites and all their oil will likely fall under Iranian influence. There may be future access for US corporations, but the fact of the matter is that there is no one for US corporations to deal with at present. The present US-backed Shia politicians are likely to be discarded in a new autonomous Shia region/state.
US corporations are playing the odds of an ultimate US policy failure and positioning themselves for profiting from partition, targeting the region most likely to remain stable in partition.
Hard or soft partition certainly makes Iran stronger, and this is the reason the Neocons in power now are loathe to consider it. Hard partition precipitated by US withdrawal also has the potential of generating a perpetual Sunni "terrorist breeding ground" based on their marginalization and impoverisation. This is why Brookings and Biden favor a US/UN supervised "soft partition". Although Bush will never willingly accept partition, his friends are seeing that he will be gone soon and we will re-enter reality-based domestic and foreign political rules. The likelihood is that regardless of who comes next in the Oval office, US policy will lean toward soft partition as the only way to escape Iraq without chaos and totally sacrificing our interests in the region.