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 What is Kurdistan?
You might remember it being that part of Iraq that wasn't rocked by civil war during our occupation.
   After the ISIS jihadists stormed Mosul, and the Iraqi soldiers threw away their guns and uniforms, when hundreds of thousands of civilians streamed out of the city, where did they go for safety? To Kurdistan.

On Wednesday, the UNHCR estimated that around 320,000 internally displaced people from Mosul have entered Kurdistan, which will only serve to increase the already heavy burden on the Kurdistan Regional Government and on humanitarian organizations operating in the region.
 This is very ironic, because for most of the last century, Iraqi Kurdistan is the place where war refugees come from.

 Pretty much all the attention to recent events have been focused on either the Iraqi government and their incompetent military, and the al-Qaeda-linked ISIS.
  What has been mostly ignored is the two groups taking advantage of the situation: Iran and the Kurds.

  First of all, consider Iran's involvement.

 In a stunning development that threatens to further destabilize the Middle East, Iran has deployed an elite unit of its Revolutionary Guard to help the Iraqi government take on ISIS, the Sunni militant group that has seized several areas in the northern part of the country....
 Let's be clear what this means: if Iran manages to save the Iraqi government, a government already on friendly terms with Iran, then Iran will be the ultimate power broker in Iraq. The Iraqi government will for all intents be an Iranian puppet.
  There is simply no precedent for this situation with these modern nations.

  The other group that has that has also been at war with ISIS are the Kurdish people.
The Iraqi government will need them too to win this war.

 Kurds in Syria have taken advantage of the lack of a Syrian government and declared an autonomous region with their own government.
  The Kurds in Syria have been engaged in a very dirty war against ISIS for quit some time.
 Following military successes earlier this year against jihadist fighters, an ethnic Kurdish militia that has been carving out a de facto Kurdish state in northeastern Syria is now facing a renewed challenge from a powerful al-Qaida offshoot.
ISIS has responded with such atrocities as massacring children and taking 200 villagers hostage.
  Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdistan has been autonomous for over a decade. When Iraq's military threw down their guns and fled before ISIS, the Kurds moved in and took over their bases around Kirkuk. Kirkuk is not just an oil-rich city, but also a historic part of Kurdistan that Saddam tried, and failed, to ethnically cleanse of Kurds.
  Recall that Kurd leaders threatened civil war against the Iraqi government in 2007 if they
couldn't take over the city.

  The Kurds situation in Iran has once again become violent.
  But it's the Kurdish situation in Turkey, where most Kurds live, that has the potential of upsetting the entire region. On one side, the PKK has vowed to fight ISIS, like so many of their Kurdish brothers already have. On the other hand, Kurdish anti-government rioting is rocking southeast Turkey.

  To understand the significance of Kurdistan, you have to understand the history.

A very brief history of Kurdistan

"Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way, with silence from everyone. We feel, your Excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country's policy."
  - Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani's message to Kissinger, 1975

"Promise them anything, give them what they get, and fuck them if they can't take a joke."
  - Kissinger to a staff member regarding the Kurds, 1975

  The Kurdistan region ("land of the Kurds") extends over an arc of about 600 miles long and 200 miles wide from Luristan in Iran to Malatia in Turkey.  The Kurdish people have their own language and their own culture.
  No Kurdish sovereign has ever ruled over the entire Kurdistan region, however several have ruled substantial areas, with the golden years around 1000 A.D. Before they were crushed by the Seljuk Turks.
   That hasn't stopped the Kurds from fighting for independence. Since long before the Battle of DimDim in 1609, up to present day, the Kurdish people have fought to throw off the shackles imposed by their more powerful neighbors, and lost every time.
   In fact the history of fighting hopeless wars is so deep in Kurdish culture that Kurdish fighters are called peshmerga, which literally means "those who confront death".

  The closest an independent Kurdistan ever came into being was a few years in early 1920 when Aricle 64 of the Treaty of Sevres was still in play. The Turkish War on Independence nixed that treaty, and Kurdish dreams of independence died with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

  Well, the dream didn't actually die there. First there had to be bloodshed.

   The Turkish government belittled the Kurdish heritage, calling them "mountain Turks". More importantly, the Turks put restrictions on the Kurdish language and religion. This more than anything caused violent resistance, and after each revolt the Turks clamped down even harder on the Kurdish culture. It was a self-reinforcing cycle.
   In 1924 the Kurds in Turkey and in northern Iraq revolted and were both brutally crushed. In 1930 they both revolted again, and were again brutally crushed.
   In 1936 the Turkish Kurds rebelled again. This time they were so completely destroyed that they wouldn't rise in revolt for another four decades.

"Wherever a Turkish bayonet appears, there is no Kurdish problem."
  - Turkish newspaper VAKIT, 1925
 

  Two more revolts by Iraqi Kurds in 1942 and 1945 both failed and led to the Iraqi rebels fighting a running battle from Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan, through Turkey, back into Iran, and all the way to the Soviet-controlled Azerbaijan where they were imprisoned.

  The Kurds of Iran had a short-lived Republic of Mahabad in 1946-47, which ended with the president of the republic hanged in the town square by the Iranian Army.

  At this point all Kurdish resistance efforts appeared completely hopeless, and there was no more organized resistance anywhere in Kurdistan.
  Until the 1961 First Iraq-Kurdish War. It was the biggest, most bloody revolt to date. It didn't end until the 1970 agreement which granted the Kurdish region of Iraq political autonomy.
  The Kurds had finally fought someone to a standstill. The price of the Kurds' success was a bloody Baath Party coup that cost of the life of the only Iraqi President that ever cared about the people of Iraq.
  It was a glorious victory, but short-lived. The Kurds were coaxed into starting the Second Kurdish-Iraq War just four years later and were completely crushed and the army razed at least 1,400 villages.

"Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."
-- Henry Kissinger, commenting on the US sellout of the Kurds in Iraq in 1975

  The Kurdish people are not all the same. Kurds in Iran have been separated from their brethren for centuries because of political boundaries, and thus speak a different dialect. Kurds in Turkey live a different political and economic reality from Kurds in Iraq.
   And even within the same country there are divisions.
  After the disastrous Second Kurdish-Iraq War, a new political party was formed in Iraq, the leftist PUK, to compete with the dominant conservative KDP.

 Before long KDP forces were ambushing and massacring PUK forces.  Saddam Hussein was able to publicly boast that "the Kurdish organizations would never be able to achieve anything since they are hopelessly divided against each other and subservient to foreign powers."

  Everything got more intense when the Iran-Iraq War began in 1980. Both Kurdish groups in Iraq sided with Iran against Saddam's Iraq. In August 1979 Khomeini declared Jihad against the rebellious Kurds of north-western Iran. Around 10,000 died before the revolt was crushed.

   The Maoist PKK was founded in Turkey in 1978. At first a political group, it became a paramilitary group and started a widespread revolt against the Turkish government in 1984. This conflict was to last for over 30 years and leave around 80,000 dead and thousands of villages destroyed.
  A 2013 cease-fire has calmed the conflict, but not ended it.

 Meanwhile in Iraq, things went from bad to worse. At first the Kurdish rebellion against Saddam went smoothly because his forces were barely holding off the Iranian army. But in 1987 the Iranian army wilted, and Saddam turned on the Kurds.
  There is some doubt concerning exactly how many Kurds died in this offensive. Estimates range from 50,000 to 182,000 fighters and civilians perished (the higher figure seems more likely). About 2,000 Kurdish villages were burned to the ground.
  The most infamous part of the Al-Anfal Campaign was the Halabja poison gas attack of March 16, 1988. Estimates on the number of victims range from several hundred to several thousand.
    Rather than condemn the massacres of Kurds, the United States escalated its support for Iraq. It wasn't until after Saddam invaded Kuwait that America cared about the gas attack.

  Much like the Second Kurdish-Iraq War, the United States encouraged the Kurds to revolt against Saddam during the Gulf War. Then, once the war was over, the Kurds were tossed aside again and left to their fate against Saddam's army.
  It's important to note that until this point, the Shia and Sunni had never had a serious sectarian war in Iraq before. This was the start of Iraq's real troubles.

 The Kurds were only saved from complete disaster by the imposition of a no-fly zone, giving the Kurds de-facto autonomy. However, yet another failed revolt led to more internal strife. This time in the form of a Kurdish Civil War between 1994 and 1997.
  Fortunately, this was to be the last major fighting between Kurds.

12:57 PM PT: Opinions are flying fast and furious.

Kurds lay groundwork for independence

Iraqi Kurds may be losers in ISIS conflict

Is it good for the Kurds?

1:25 PM PT: This is horrific! It seems random drive-by's of other cars and pedestrians are a favorite of the ISIS.
  The gore has been removed from the video, but somehow that makes it even worse.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Saladin is somewhere, smiling. n/t (23+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:26:27 AM PDT

  •  good (12+ / 0-)

    we had no business carving up the region into arbitrary countries with no regard for ethnic regionality.  the kurds got the hella short end of that particular stick.

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:28:24 AM PDT

  •  Wow! (14+ / 0-)

    I have an awful lot of Middle East history to learn. This diary is a great start. Thanks gjohnsit. Tipped and recommended.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~ SouthernLiberalinMD

    by gulfgal98 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:36:16 AM PDT

  •  partition must happen to secure peace (6+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:36:41 AM PDT

    •  It's not going to include the sections in Turkey (5+ / 0-)

      or Iran.  The Kurds speak at least four dialects, as different one from another as Spanish is from Portuguese.  

      If there is a Kurdistan, it will be a small landlocked state that can't threaten Turkey, something like the little rump of Armenia that doesn't include the vast Armenian territories lost in 1914.

      Turkey may accept an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, because as the saying goes, "if you think the disease is bad then consider death".  Turkey may not be able to prevent the transition from de-facto independence to actual independence.  But the price will be economic dependency and absolutely no more talk of carving off part of Turkey.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:58:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That seems an awfully optimistic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl

      map.  Kurdish secession in Turkey will at a minimum revive Armenian claims to the lands around Lake Van.  I think in the next couple of years we'll see a lot of revising of borders created by Turks, the British, the French, and the Russians in the region and going up into the Caucasus.

      I'd love to ask InAntalya how things are doing these days where she lives.  According to that map she'll be living in Kurdistan soon.  Kurds being ethnically closest to Iranians of their various neighbors, presumably a united Kurdistan will become an autonomous region of Iran.  

    •  Your map is wrong per my Armenian friend... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl

      Lot of your Kurdistan map was part of the Armenian homeland before Turkey's Genocide of their Armenian people. Many years ago, I went to my friend's church in Watertown, MA. where he showed me the parish school and it's museum.

      The museum was mostly devoted to the Genocide. I was horrified back then but wouldn't be today.

      Now we are all used to photographs of mass crucifixions.

  •  Latest from Kurdistan (34+ / 0-)

    ISIS tried to attack the Yezidi town of Sinjar yesterday, but were repulsed by a small Kurdish force.  The Kurdish forces also re-took ar-Rabaeia, a border crossing with Syria.  The Chicago Tribune copied some source that said that Sinjar had fallen to ISIS, which alarmed me, but I saw tweets and got an email from our staff that says this is not true.  Now the Telegraph and Sabah, a Turkish newspaper, are reporting that in fact ISIS lost 20 fighters in the attempt, that the Kurds rushed in reinforcements, and are now holding Jebel Sinjar region.  Turkmen in Tel Afar, near Sinjar, have formed a militia with Kurdish assistance and killed some ISIS who were trying to infiltrate.  This is surprising because Tel Afar was a town that supported Saddam and fought the US in 2007.  I guess they have decided the Kurds are the lesser of evils.  It is also significant because evidence suggests that Iraq's Turkmen, who hold a lot of sway and emotional value in Turkey, are dead set against ISIS.  That's a good thing.

    After occupying Kirkuk, the Kurds pushed ISIS back to Hawija, a city that strongly supported Saddam and strongly supports the insurgents now.  The Kurds have decided not to attack Hawija yet, but ISIS is not able to break out. The Kurdish forces also fought ISIS in the area south and east of Kirkuk, and occupied Tuz Khurmatu and Taza Khurmatu overnight.  These are Shia' Turkmen towns who don't entirely trust the Kurds, but hate ISIS. Again, it's a sign that when push comes to shove, the small Turkish speaking minority isn't going to side with ISIS.

    ISIS occupied Jalawla in Diyala governorate yesterday.  This is a mixed ethnicity town, Arab and Kurd, Shia' and Sunni.  It was the site of really serious fighting in the 2006-7 civil war.  Kurdish forces counterattacked pushed ISIS out.

    Each time ISIS has come up against the Kurds, ISIS has lost.  I hope that continues. I also hope the Kurds scrupulously avoid any abuses against anyone, but particularly the Turks, Christians and Shia' Arabs who now depend upon them for safety.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 10:52:22 AM PDT

    •  Thank you (11+ / 0-)

      This really brings us up to date.
        I'm curious about your background because you are so informed.

       Personally I think this ISIS rebellion could end up being a good thing politically for the Kurds, if things fall the right way. Nothing like a common enemy.
      Unfortunately a lot of people have to die first.

       What do you think?

      "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

      by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:13:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probably blow my identity...but (17+ / 0-)

        in brief... worked for a US-based refugee organization in Kurdistan immediately after the 1991 uprising. Then worked for a US government agency involved in emergency assistance.  Was outed as a "spy" by a Turkish newspaper (not true, BTW) in 1994 and had to leave for security reasons.  Returned to Iraq immediately after the 2003 invasion, and have been managing and/or consulting on programs in Kurdistan, Baghdad and Basra.  Travel to the region 2-3 times per year.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:29:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In terms of outcome for the Kurds? (16+ / 0-)

        Yes, probably an opportunity.  I am very sympathetic to the Kurdish cause, but also am uncomfortable with nationalism in general and recognize that there can be a dark side to the Kurdish movement.  They have a mixed record when it comes to respecting the rights and property of minorities - far better than the other actors in Iraq, but Kurds have stolen some Christian land near Mosul and mistreat both Turkmen and Arabs in Kirkuk. Also the Kurdish leadership has some real problems with corruption.  

        The political differences within Kurdistan are likely to diminish when faced with what appears to be a growing war.  I suspect the KDP, PUK and Goran will avoid infighting right now.  

        My other problem with the Kurds is that they can be very brutal when it comes to counterinsurgency. The homegrown extremists in Ansar al Islam were tortured, some of them disappeared and no doubt shot, and anyone who toys with ISIS style extremism in Kurdistan runs a risk of being dealt with way outside of the legal system.  My sympathy for ISIS is sometimes limited, but the Kurds make mistakes too, and torture is bad no matter who is doing it.  Again, the Kurds don't engage in systematic torture of the same extent as the Maliki regime, ISIS and Shia' militias do... but they are not angels, not by a long shot.  I am sure that captured ISIS fighters are being tortured even as I type this comment.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:40:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You mentioned somewhere that this is a (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit, PeterHug, philipmerrill

        summery of a series of diaries you've posted.  Could you provide the links to these diaries?  I'd be interested in reading them.

    •  Are the Kurds likely to go for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, ivorybill, FarWestGirl

      Mosul?

      •  In my opinion (4+ / 0-)

        that depends.
          They've already said that they could have saved Mosul, so they feel they have the military ability.

         However, there is a distance between Kurdistan and Mosul. I don't think they would make an attempt on Mosul unless the Baghdad government fell.

        "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

        by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:21:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Unlikely (10+ / 0-)

        Not even the most nationalistic Kurd considers Mosul to be Kurdish territory - although many Kurds live there. The Kurds, unlike the Americans, probably have enough sense not to try to occupy a city of 2 million, most of whom are Sunni Arabs, who will resent the occupiers.

        The Kurds will probably work with Sunni tribal leaders to undermine ISIS. It is possible that they may occupy some of the eastern suburbs, which are mostly Kurdish (Shabbak) or Christian anyway.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:37:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks to all who responded (eom) (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ivorybill, FarWestGirl
        •  Wouldn't it ultimately depend on if Kurds (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gjohnsit, ivorybill

          want to eliminate ISIS as a threat; or if they are content to just keep them from threatening 'Kurdistan'? Come to think of it, is the Kurdish territory part of the ISIS envisioned "Levant" nation they are fighting to create?


          A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned. -- Firefly

          by Jim P on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:24:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ISIS thinks the whole world (6+ / 0-)

            should be part of the Caliphate. Abu Bakir al Baghdadi took that nom de guerre in part because Abu Bakir was the Islamic conqueror of the Kurds back in the 7th century.  They certainly dream of conquering Kurdistan and see themselves as leading a fundamentalist pan-Islamic movement based on the earliest days of Islam.  

            The Kurds see ISIS as (a) Arabs and (b) crazy.  The fact that they are crazy makes them a threat; the fact that they are Arabs makes the Kurds think that they can wall them off with a border.  There is a homegrown fundamentalist movement in Kurdistan.  Weak, but it exists.  ISIS may try to influence or infiltrate that, and I am sure the Kurdish security is going to keep a close watch on Islamist Kurds to control that.

            “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

            by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:49:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Kurds Spread Pretty Thin (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, PeterHug, GAS, Cartoon Peril

      Kurds taking (back) Kirkuk extended the Kurds about 80 Km outside their autonomous province's territory (a strip about 100Km widest along Iraq's mountainous northern border with Iran and Turkey). But defending Jalawla from ISIS extended them another 250Km from there, to within 75Km of Baghdad. That's stretched pretty thin, to the south, while ISIS seems to be coming from the West (Syria).

      Mosul is only about 10-20Km from the Kurdish province. Yet it seems to be still under ISIL control after the Iraqi government forces fled. I wonder why the Kurds are defending Jalawla before Mosul. They're more likely to keep Mosul after defeating ISIL than to keep Jalawla. Maybe they're trying to keep Baghdad out of ISIL hands, or maybe it's some gambit to engage foreign (US/Iranian/?) forces near Baghdad for bargaining. Or maybe they expect to take Mosul easily after they're done stopping ISIL advance, while ISIL reportedly isn't harming the people of Mosul too much (yet).

      Altogether though Kurdistan looks like more of a country capable of security for its people (and maybe even its neighbors) than Iraq has been since Saddam was deposed. Even the Shia of mid-Iraq probably recognize that, despite Baghdad being under Shiite partisan rule.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:48:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The autonomous zone borders (5+ / 0-)

        relate to British era provincial borders and don't correspond to actual Kurdish populations or the areas actually occupied by Kurdish forces, even before 2003.

        Jalawla is a good example.  It is very close to Khanaqin, a major Kurdish town that has been under the de facto control of Kurdish forces since 2003, even though it is far outside the formal autonomous zone.

        Kirkuk's status has been kind of a fiction too - for a decade, the first Kurdish checkpoint was literally 5 minutes outside of town.  The Kurdish forces occupied the ridge overlooking Kirkuk, had large numbers of troops inside the city and dominated the police force.  If anything slipped just a little, the Kurds were always prepared to take Kirkuk - which they did immediately after the Iraqi army abandoned their bases.

        The Kurds are annexing and defending Sinjar - which is actually west of Mosul on the way to Syria, and which is very far outside of the autonomous zone.  They are doing that because Sinjar is historically Kurdish (and Armenian, strangely enough).  

        But Mosul?  It may be just down the road from the formal border of the autonomous zone, but it is not Kurdish and it is not defensible.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:42:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ivorybill, FarWestGirl

          This stuff is fascinating, though it's rubbernecking. I knew little about the Kurds, but throughout the Iraq War I have always considered that the key to the British destabilization of that part of the Ottoman Empire was dividing Kurdistan.

          While the Kurds have their problems with "civilized" behavior (who doesn't, especially in the Kurds' conditions these centuries) I thought their multiple religions (without fundamentalism AFAIK) and long history in the same region could provide a model for reorganizing the peoples. If those peoples were willing to settle for living amongst each other, instead of the eradications they seem so easily led into demanding.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:28:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm pretty sure that the Kurds have a decent, (0+ / 0-)

          realistic shot at controlling the parts of Mosul that are east of the Tigris.  It may become a divided city, much like Berlin used to be.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 05:14:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Kurds are probably the best fighters in the (0+ / 0-)

      area, but they have a number of differences between themselves.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:30:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You fail to mention (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kenwards, ivorybill, Johnny Q, Wolf10, DocGonzo

    that Iran has an existential stake in this situation. This disaster is right on their border. Furthermore, it is a border that was crossed by an Iraqi invasion force relatively recently. ISIS has declared Iran should be a part of their Sunni caliphate. What would the U.S. do?

    Iran should be one of the major powers in the region by virtue of population and economic strength. If the Western and Israeli diplomacy could have acknowledged that fact, we'd probably be in a better situation today. Instead, we had a policy of "containment" against a nation that hasn't engaged in a war of aggression for centuries.

    That being said, the history and analysis of the Kurdish situation is very useful!

    If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. - Thomas Pynchon

    by chuckvw on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:22:59 AM PDT

    •  Actually I mentioned near the top (9+ / 0-)

      that Iranian forces were in Iraq fighting against ISIS.
        The only thing I failed to mention was that Iranian forces were also in Syria fighting ISIS.

        The only allies of ISIS appear to be angry Iraqi Sunnis, and maybe the governments of SA and Turkey (although I can't prove that).
         Everyone else hates their guts, and the Iraqi government needs the Kurds to defeat them.

      "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

      by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:29:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You mention it as "a stunning development (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit, edg

        that threatens to destabilize the region"... I wasn't stunned by it in the least. Iran is struggling to maintain some stability in an already very unstable region... as would any other sovereign nation.

        I don't think we really know yet who is backing ISIS. They didn't "leap from Zeus’ head, fully grown and armed, with a shout — and peal to the broad sky her clarion cry of war."

        We do know that they now have all of the U.S. arms, including tanks and possibly aircraft, and millions of dollars abandoned by Iraqi forces. They don't seem to care much about making friends. Let's hope that will be their downfall.

        If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. - Thomas Pynchon

        by chuckvw on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:43:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit, chuckvw

        what was with the "stunning development that threatens to destabilize the region" stuff? Are you saying that Iran propping up al-Maliki is more destabilizing than ISIS taking over the entirety of Iraq? That seems doubtful.

        Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

        by edg on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:58:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Destabilize is the eyes of the beholder (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          philipmerrill

          To the U.S. government and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran becoming good buddies is "destabilize".
            The people of Iran and Iraq may have other ideas.

          "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

          by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:03:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Iraq and Iran are already good buddies. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gjohnsit

            And have been since the US overthrew Saddam. Little good will come from an al-Qaeda takeover of Iraq no matter how much our little fee-fees were hurt when radicals captured the US embassy in Iran 35 years ago.

            Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

            by edg on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:15:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Supplying Hezbollah and Hamas (0+ / 0-)

      with arms and more is not exactly a lack of aggression.  Also backing and aiding Muqtadr al-Sadr and the Shiite establishment families behind Maliki and their militias while Americans occupied Iraq.  Iran also has allies/proxies in Afghanistan which are minor but seem to fight American and Karzai forces.  The various rebellions in Yemen seem to have Iranian support also.

      There were Iranian power boat attack attempts on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf during the 90s.  

      They're not as innocent as they pretend.

    •  Their Aggression Is Indirect... (0+ / 0-)

      They support other aggressors.

      They have been patient trying to stabilize their economy and develop nuclear weapons.  If they go nuclear that is when you will see aggression.

  •  I am loathe to redraw maps. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, ivorybill, chuckvw

    That said, the last redrawing has been a miserable failure.

    Diyarbakir. wiki, manages not to even mention the Kurds.

  •  The US has avoided directly arming the Kurds (8+ / 0-)

    in 1991, the Kurds pleaded for support during their uprising  and they were willing to take the war all the way to Baghdad.  Bush Sr refused.

    in 2003, the Kurds pleaded with the US for arms, and they were willing to go all the way to Baghdad.  Bush Jr. refused.

    in 2014, the Iraqi army abandoned the major army bases in Kirkuk.  The Kurds finally got their American weapons:

    At the front line the Peshmerga towed away 10 Iraqi Army tanks and dozens of Humvee vehicles that had been abandoned... Some were moved out of the base using tank transporters, others were driven out by exuberant Peshmerga fighters, who took the tanks for a spin in the scrubland, sitting on the open hatch doors, toting their guns and laughing.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...

    Now, though, the Kurds are not so willing to go all the way to Baghdad.  It's hard not to see them as the winners in Iraq, at least for now.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:49:32 AM PDT

  •  Iran destabilize the region? That's our job! eom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:53:21 AM PDT

  •  Very informative diary, thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, Lawrence, FarWestGirl

    Do you think the United States should recognize Iraqi Kurdestan as an independent country?  They seem better organized than the Maliki regime in Baghdad.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 11:55:40 AM PDT

    •  Turkey has some say in that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl

      I'd be curious how Israel feels about it too.

      "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

      by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:25:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who cares what Israel thinks? (0+ / 0-)

        The Kurds have a right to their own destiny. They have been the pawns of others for far too long.

        Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

        by edg on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:01:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They could influence events (4+ / 2-)

          Israel may think that an independent Kurdistan, in both Syria and Iraq, would undermine the Iraqi and Syrian governments, and thus make Israel a safer place.

           And since whatever Israel wants, America does, this could sway the political tide.

           That just speculation.

          "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

          by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:06:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  More than speculation (4+ / 0-)

            The Israelis supported Mustafa Barzani against Saddam in the 1970's for exactly the reasons you state.  The Israelis would probably be supportive of independence if the Kurds sought their support.

            Kurdistan had a very large Jewish population until 1948, and the oldest Kurd in the world is a rabbi in Israel!  Linguists are hanging out with him because he speaks an archaic form of Kurdish that might go extinct with him:
            http://rudaw.net/...

            Most Kurds I know would welcome the return of the Jewish community to Kurdistan and there's not a lot of anti-Semitism.  However, on a political level, I'm not sure the Kurds want the Israelis as friends, particularly on this issue, because they don't want the antagonism and headaches that would bring.  Most Kurds I know would also like to see a Palestinian state, just like everyone else in the region.  

            “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

            by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:02:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Is there a slippery slope argument? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ivorybill

              If a Kurdistan state is created, wouldn't that enhance the push for a Palestinian state? I'd think Israel would be very careful and would want to remain neutral regarding the Kurds.

              Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

              by edg on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:23:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Netanyahu will keep gobbling up Palestinian land (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                edg, FarWestGirl

                either way.  I think he's perfectly capable of coming up with some rationalization for the Christian Right in America why the Kurds are good, and should have a country, and why the Palestinians are bad, and should not.

                “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

                by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:07:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  HR'd for ZOG. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BFSkinner

            ZOG.

            You should know better.

            "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

            by auron renouille on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:04:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  A Weird Twist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, ivorybill
    Everything got more intense when the Iran-Iraq War began in 1980. Both Kurdish groups in Iraq sided with Iran against Saddam's Iraq. In August 1979 Khomeini declared Jihad against the rebellious Kurds of north-western Iran. Around 10,000 died before the revolt was crushed.

    How could the Iraqi Kurds side with Iran in 1980 if only a few months before Iran killed 10,000 Iranian Kurds to put down their revolt? Were the Iranian and Iraqi Kurds that split from mutual self interest?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:19:25 PM PDT

    •  During the Iran-Iraq War (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivorybill, DocGonzo, FarWestGirl

      the PUK announced a cease-fire with Saddam's forces in order to consolidate their positions, even while the KDP were still at war with Saddam.
          And that is allies in the same country.

      "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

      by gjohnsit on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:28:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's complicated. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, DocGonzo, Lawrence, FarWestGirl

      Jalal Talabani, the head of the PUK political party, switched sides three times during that war - each time gaining a little territory and power.  

      It's very complicated.  The Iranian Kurds and the Iraqi Kurds get along well now.  But in the 1980's they were desperately at war with each of their national governments, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend, etc.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:05:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can war w/Turkey be far behind? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, ivorybill

    They won't like this...

    •  There is a Kurdish expression (5+ / 0-)

      "Show them death, and they will love the disease"

      In other words, a bad option, like actual Kurdish independence as a controllable, land-locked state that feeds you lots of cheap oil, is sometimes better than a catastrophic option, like a renewed civil war inside Turkey, the loss of billions in investment, and shitty relations with the EU.

      Iraq Kurdistan is three times the size of Lebanon, twice the population, and has as many as 200,000 men under arms.  Turkey could win a war, eventually, but the Turks are sane enough to pause and think about the huge economic, diplomatic and domestic political cost.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:21:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Turks are sane enough, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill

        but is Erdogan?

        •  Erdogan, especially, might negotiate (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dclawyer06, Lawrence, FarWestGirl

          Erdogan depends upon the Kurdish vote to stay in office.  The Kurds in Turkey tend to vote against Turkish nationalists, but can accept an Islamist like Erdogan, because he the enemy of the Ataturk-style extreme Turkish nationalists. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, etc.

          Erdogan has gone to Diyarbakir and given little short speeches in Kurdish (!) in order to drum up support. Even a decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for a Turkish president to say a word in Kurdish.  That's what two decades of Kurdistan, and Kurdish satellite and social media, have done.

          Bottom line: Erdogan needs the votes in SE Turkey.  Invading Iraqi Kurdistan would cost him critical support.  

          Also Erdogan and his cronies can make a lot of money, now that the Kurds have the Kirkuk oil fields. That's a little icing on an otherwise bitter piece of cake.

          “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

          by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:18:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  See especially: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dclawyer06, Lawrence, FarWestGirl
          Bitter experience in 2011 taught a lesson to Erdogan: Kurds are more inclined to vote for Erdogan than nationalists. He is now using the peace process to show himself as a leader who launched peace in the region and released PKK leader from the prison. This will allow him in upcoming presidential elections to get votes of the Kurds, who have no chance to elect their own leader.

          http://english.alarabiya.net/...

          Erdogan needs Kurdish votes.  He's not invading Kurdistan.

          “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

          by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:22:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  About Fuching Time. Bush Sr should have ... (0+ / 0-)

    Orchestrated the creation of an independent Kurdistan way the fuck back in 1991 as part of the Desert Storm capitulation.

    But then he's a friggin genius so that didn't happen.

    We ... the US ... have to sit down with Turkey and work this out, because it IS going to happen and Turkey needs to come to terms with it.

    Syria and Iraq can go fuck themselves. Cross the line you die, and we WILL KILL YOU this time. Some portion of bot Syria and Iraq are going to be sliced off as Kurdistan, end of story.

  •  Did I recently see something about the U.S. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, ivorybill

    blocking delivery of a tanker full of Kurdish oil? The thing that will make the Kurdish state viable is the Kirkuk oil. I sure hope we don't f%%$k that up too.

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:19:31 PM PDT

    •  The US has been trying desperately (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, killjoy, FarWestGirl

      to slow or delay Kurdish economic independence.  

      It is doing this for two reasons:

      First, the US is still committed to a single, unified Iraqi state.  Kurds can have their own borders, their own army, their own flag... but if they have their own oil sales and their own central bank, that's a step too far.  The Administration may change its mind if ground reality really demonstrates that Iraq simply can't hold together as a country.  

      Second, the oil exports are largely - but not completely - controlled by one of the Kurdish political parties, the KDP.  There is a problem with corruption.  Oil is poisonous to democracies and the US is legitimately leery of the KDP exploiting the oilfields for their own benefit, and not those of the citizens.  

      The first concern seems to me excessively rigid.  If the Kurds become independent, that's OK for America.  The second holds more weight with me.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:54:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Kurds are the only ones John McCain doesnt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ivorybill, BlackSheep1

    want to bomb. Yet. So maybe they will come out on top.

  •  Khomeini tried to crush the Iranian Kurds in 1979 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, FarWestGirl

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:20:15 PM PDT

  •  It's been my privilege to know many Kurds (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, BlackSheep1, FarWestGirl

    Kurdistan is one of the few pro-American places left in the Middle East.  Of course that gets us into complications with Turkey.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 03:28:45 PM PDT

  •  I went to school with a couple of 'em (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl

    in the mid-80s (they were in engineering programs, I was in MassCom). They were good people. Doesn't mean anything on a planetary scale, but in person, I met good folks from there.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 06:47:32 PM PDT

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