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Iraqi Kurds Have Again Made Statehood an Issue But There Are Risks
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The overwhelming vote for Kurdish independence in the referendum in northern Iraq is re-energising Kurdish nationalism and the demand for a separate Kurdish state.

“Bye bye, Iraq! Bye bye, Iraq!”, chanted demonstrators in Irbil, capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as they danced in the streets after the polls closed.

The impact of the referendum is not confined to Iraq, but is producing outbursts of nationalist enthusiasm in Iran, where thousands of Iranian Kurds marched through the streets of their cities to show their support for the vote. Many wore masks to hide their faces from the Iranian security forces observing the demonstrations.

The angry and threatening response to the referendum by government leaders in states surrounding Iraqi Kurdistan underlines how difficult it will be for any of the 30 million Kurds in the region to win independence. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that he can close the oil pipeline carrying crude from the KRG to the Mediterranean, demanding that the Iraqi Kurdish leadership “abandons this adventure with a dark ending”. The Defence Ministry in Baghdad has announced wide-scale joint military manoeuvres with the Turkish army.

These menaces need not be taken too seriously for the moment. Mr Erdogan often issues apocalyptic warnings directed against his enemies, but is usually more cautious in acting against them, The Iraqi armed forces won a big victory by capturing Mosul from Isis in July this year, but they were able to call in the massive fire power of the US-led coalition. Baghdad would not have the same advantage if it came to war with the Kurds.

But the condemnation of the Kurdish referendum by everybody from Washington to Tehran does show the degree to which the Kurds in Iraq are isolated and without allies, if they do opt for independence. Only Israel has given them full support, something that will hardly win them friends in the region. Critics in Baghdad often accuse the Kurds of wishing to establish “a second Israel” in the Arab world.

In reality, the balance of power between the Iraqi Kurds and their many enemies has not changed much in the long term and remains heavily weighted against them. The balance did swung in their direction in 2014 when Isis defeated the Iraqi army in Mosul and the US stepped in to give air support the Kurdish peshmerga when they in turn were attacked by Isis.

Three years later Isis is close to final defeat and its self-proclaimed caliphate has been battered to pieces. The Kurds in Iraq and Syria, who supplied most of the ground forces to battle Isis, are no longer needed by the international community. Ominously, the Iraqi and Syrian governments have both won military victories against Isis and may now turn their attention to combating the Kurds.


This is a serious point of vulnerability for the Iraqi Kurds. They took advantage of the Iraqi armed forces’ defeat by Isis in 2014 to expand their own territory. By one count they increased the area they controlled by 40 per cent, much of it in zones where Arabs, Kurdish and minority populations mingle. Once Isis is eliminated “the disputed territories” are bound to provoke friction and possible armed conflict.

An all-out war between the central government in Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds does not look likely because both sides have foreign allies who would probably prevent the fighting getting out of hand.

Did President Masoud Barzani make a mistake in holding the referendum, as so many foreign powers now contend? The answer to this depends on whether any of the threats now being made against the Kurds turn out to be more than words. If they remain rhetorical, however belligerent in tone, Mr Barzani can claim that he has successfully put the national aspirations of the Kurds back on the international agenda, even if Kurdish statehood remains a long way off.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, Kurds 
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  1. anonymos says:

    [Did President Masoud Barzani make a mistake in holding the referendum, as so many foreign powers now contend? The answer to this depends on whether any of the threats now being made against the Kurds turn out to be more than words. If they remain rhetorical, however belligerent in tone, Mr Barzani can claim that he has successfully put the national aspirations of the Kurds back on the international agenda, even if Kurdish statehood remains a long way off.]

    The kurds are pawns of the western powers and the Zionist baby killers, where have received their instructions from the apartheid state to hold a phony referendum so, like the Zionist thieves, to establish phony FACTS ON THE GROUND to erect ‘kurdistan’ with the STOLEN LAND OF IRAQIS to bring chaos and more wars into the region for the interest of their MASTERS, US-Israel -Britain.
    The traitor kurds cannot erect anything arriving on BACK OF the AMERICAN TANKS with the help of US trained terrorists, ISIS, stealing Iraqis’ oil rich territories.

    You should be writing articles in support of Catalan independence that is RICH, INDEPENDENT, ARTISTIC, and DEMOCRATIC where they have not landed in their territory with the help of the Western INVADERS traitors.

    While you and people like you are sending propaganda in support of your PAWNS, the kurds, all the western powers, SPAIN and the embedded journalists are attacking Catalan wanting to be separated from Spain, but everyday these criminal groups find somewhere in the Muslim world to be balkanized and divided to steal their resources where so far they have KILLED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND BRUNT THOUSANDS OF CHILDEREN WITH WHITE PHOSPHORIS BOMBS to implement their criminal plan.

    You should be writing articles in support of an independent Palestine with its indigenous population where YOU made REGUGEES through ETHNIC CLEASING 70 years ago, while there has been a Jewish state in New York before 1948.

    You the propagandists, must know that ALL of Kurdistan was part of Iran. The Kurds NEVER had a country. Kurdistan is one of the Iranian province located in the West part of Iran.
    The reason behind divided Kurdistan is that The Ottoman expansionist attacked Iran in early 16th century and Annexed large area of Kurdistan from Iran at CHALDIRAN in 1514, where this territory was later divided and partitioned by the Evil British Empire into Iraq, Turkey and Syria, when they toppled the Ottoman empire at the end of the WWI to have a full control over the region by erecting smaller states.

    Iran should stage a worldwide campaign to demand its territory back.
    When a Khazari Tribe creates an imaginary connection to the occupied Palestine for 2000 years, and construct a hoax history to fool people with western powers complicity, then the Iranian people have no difficulty to establish the FACT that Kurdistan has been taken from Iran by an aggressive force illegally, and they have every single right to demand their Kurdish province back. The Kurds are Iranians. And word “Pishmarghe” , is a PERSIAN word, consisting of ‘pish’ meaning the front, ahead – and Margh, meaning death.

    The Creation of a “Second Israel”? Kurdistan Will Cause Years of War

    The official Iraqi said:
    “The step that was taken by some racists in Kurdistan will bring instability to the entire region for years to come. The representatives of such efforts had established the state of Israel in 1948,” Mowaffak al-Rubaie, an MP from the ruling Shiite National Alliance told reporters in the Iraqi parliament.

    • Replies: @Lemurmaniac
  2. @anonymos

    Clearly, you don’t seem to understand how conflict works in history. Groups take what they can get. Your polemic is especially amusing considering the borders of Iraq were drawn by colonial powers.

    • Replies: @anonymos
  3. Xuxa says:

    I would love to know how a liar such as yourself got the top comment with this pathetic propaganda.

    You claim Kurds were a part of Iran, that is false, Kurds were OCCUPIED by Iranians and a part of that empire. This is like claiming Lebanon should be a part of Turkey because it used to be a part of the Ottoman Empire.

    You claim we are stealing arab land, yet you contradict yourself beautifully. You make it clear that Kurds have been where they currently are for at least 500 years. That means we are not taking arab land, its quite simply our land.

    If Kurds are meant to be a part of Iran, then why do we have a different language, national dress, customs & traditions? Anyone with half a brain would know that Kurds meet every criteria for independence, just because we never had a country doesnt mean we shouldnt have one. Saudi and Iraq NEVER existed before making deals with the british in WW1. Your standards have no consistency just like your argument which proves you are nothing but a savage imperialist.

    • Replies: @Aren Haich
  4. anonymos says:

    [...amusing considering the borders of Iraq were drawn by colonial powers.]

    You are amusing NOT knowing the history. According to your ignorant opinion then Iran has occupied Kerman, Pars, Tehran, Esfahan. Read the history and then comment.

    How were nations erected?

    There is a large Parsi community in India, then why Iranian don’t claim on Indian land. Kurdish
    language is very similar to Persian.
    The Kurds are Iranians, you go and ask from Bahman Ghobadi, an Iranian kurd a film maker where majority of zionists know him about its own tribe.

    You have no question about zionist hoax history who has occupied and erected a COLONIAL ENTITY in Palestinian land yet its border still is expanding with the help of colonial powers, Britain, France and US, but are questioning Iranian province of kurdistan. You should question the birth of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand where has happened a few damn centuries ago not Iranian provinces formed 7000 years ago. On the same analogy, then majority of Chinese provinces are ‘drawn by colonial power’.

    Your ignorant ‘drawn by colonial powers’ is copied from a zionist war criminal, Kissinger, and a zionist imposter Noam Chomsky in support of the partition. Add the support of a zionist baby killer, Negtanyahu, the sole supporter of partition to create illegitimate colony to justifiy the presence of an apartheid in occupied Palestine.

    Palestine at one time was part of the Persian empire up to Libya, then why Iranian do not claim that Palestine is part of Iran and Palestinians are Iranians? Palestinians are living in their own land for the past 21 centuries and no HOAX zionist history can denies it. For this reason, the Evil Empires, Britain, American, always afraid of history thus they invade the civilized nations, robbing their libraries, Museum and their remains from their civilization to deny them of past and distort the history for their interest. The zionists are digging Palestine since 1948 and have not FOUND A CREDIBLE REMAINS TO SHOW THEIR PRESENCE to proof that they are colonists and invaders not part of the indigenous population. Britain has robbed many nations and they should have documents and map in their possessions to show that kurdistan is part of Iran. A glance of the colonial powers museums and libraries expose their criminal acts. All Persian civilization remains are in their libraries and museums, so other civilized nation remains. It is shameful.

    It was the evil British Empire that spread the lies of ‘Arabian Gulf’ instead of ‘Persian Gulf’ to amuse the Arab dictators in 1911, to ROB THEM. But the maps and books, even from two centuries ago that I have, clearly show PERSIAN GULF all over the maps. They can go to hell.

  5. anonymos says:

    Iran is a targeted country where the Evil Empire and their complicit servants, Britain-Israel want to destabilize, thus they are using the traitor minority to achieve their evil plot. They NEVER succeed.
    One of the targeted minority beside kurds are the population in Khuzistan, with a lot of oil.

    Khuzistan is another Iranian province where its history goes back to many centuries ago.

    The West has targeted Iran using their propagandists pose as ‘journalists’ to fool the public. The public in the West know nothing about old civilized nation of Iran and NOT curious to educate themselves.

    Many researches done by the scientists shown that:

    [To date, 120 Croat and non-Croat university professors and several academics have compiled 249 research works of which many have been printed in various publications and thereby have proven that Croats are of Iranian origin.]

    The traitor kurds who were serving Saddam yesterday, now they are cooperating with the invaders and ziofascists against the regional states.

  6. @Xuxa

    Iran is made up of many, many ethnic nationalities. With regards to language and culture, Kurds are actually “more Iranian” than most other ethnic groups.

  7. Neocynic says:

    Well, until this past war, the Kurds have historically never failed to back the wrong side, i.e. siding with the Turks in WWI, and the Axis in WWII, hence they have always been the most untrustworthy here in the West.

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