Tag Archives: Kurdistan

Iraqi Federalist Papers? It’s the Economy, Publius………

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“Their lingering hostility reflects a widespread mistrust of military leadership among Iraqi troops, one of a host of problems hampering U.S.-backed efforts by Iraq’s central government to revive the security forces after a meltdown last year as Islamic State advanced. “It’s a common thing for us to see our commanders abandoning us,” said Sgt. Adwani. He recounted an experience last year in Ramadi—the provincial capital of Anbar, which Islamic State seized in May—where his captain retreated during a close firefight. Ammar Mohamad, an explosives specialist receiving new training from Spanish, Portuguese, and American soldiers at this Iraqi base some 50 miles south of Baghdad, remembered getting orders to withdraw from Mosul as Islamic State assaulted the city in early June last year…………”

Years ago, during the sectarian mini civil war in Iraq, the issue of the division of Iraq was widely discussed inside and outside that country. The issues of federalism and confederation was also discussed by Iraqi factions and famously suggested by then Senator Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb. That was when the Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus’ab Al Zarqawi and other foreign uninvited Wahhabi ‘guests’ set to provoke Iraqi Shi’as against Iraqi Sunnis and vice versa. At some point the issue faded as Iraq became engulfed in a complex multi-faction conflict that went beyond sect and geography.

Now, as Al Qaeda in Iraq ( AQI ) has morphed into the Caliphate of ISIS (DAESH) that threatens Iraqis across their publicized “identities” you would think the issue of some form of political division would be on the back burner. Apparently it is not: it is being fed by sectarian violence among the various “good Iraqis”. It is also being fed by some Westerners, including many in the U.S. House and Senate who apparently think they have no urgent domestic American issues to deal with. But ISIS have already created their own division, their own Caliphate, and unless Iraqis can solve their sectarian issues, DAESH will not go anywhere.
Often economic forces usually trump political ambitions and passions, in the end. Economic forces draw the boundaries and limits of political action. In Iraq, that is the case in the end, if there is to be a viable situation. The distribution of economic resources in Iraq, either oil or agriculture, are tilted toward the southern regions, the mainly Shi’a lands and to a lesser extent the northern mainly Kurdish lands. The Kurds now have Kirkuk, courtesy of the blitzkrieg of ISIS into Mosul in 2014. They probably believe their borders are mostly set, subject to developments in Baghdad and the vagaries of the ruling Turkish Islamists under their neighbor Caliph Erdogan. That leaves much of the Euphrates basin and the vast desert of southwestern Iraq. That is where “it is the economy, stupid” comes in.

Al Anbar province and the rest of what the media and pundits call the “Sunni” areas are economically handicapped. Some agriculture and ranching, with little oil, do not create a viable political entity, especially for a landlocked region. Al Anbar is not Switzerland or Austria: it has even less natural resources than landlocked Afghanistan. If the western regions of Iraq can’t depend on Baghdad, they will have to rely on the “outside”.

An independent western Iraq will have to rely mainly on Saudi Arabia and maybe Qatar or UAE to support its economy. It is unlikely that these countries want to carry the burden of these millions, no matter how much sympathy they have and how tempting politically. Besides, just think of the disputes over the borders, with Baghdad and with the Kurds. That would set Iraq up for continued internal conflict, then as now financed and fueled by outside money and volunteers. It would be outside Salafi influence trying to sway Iraqi Sunnis who are mostly moderates and are averse to Wahhabism.

Federalism with an American-style system (or even a German system) that protects the rights of the regions and their peoples seems the best solution. But not a feasible solution now. Alas, Iraq is not like America or Germany. Nobody there that remotely seems as capable of the task as a Hamilton or a Madison. No Iraqi Publius……….

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

The IS Caliphate and Kurdistan, Jihadist Enclave Facing Two Fronts………

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“Russia is asking the U.N. Security Council to condemn the illegal sale of Syrian oil by terrorist groups and encourage all countries to take “necessary measures” to prevent it. A draft presidential statement circulated to council members and obtained Monday by The Associated Press expresses “grave concern” at the seizure of oilfields in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra and stresses that any export or import of crude oil without authorization of a sovereign state is illegal………….”

“Militants, who declared an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, now claimed to have seized Syria’s largest oilfield. Fighters of the Islamic State, previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), said they took over the al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir al-Zour province from rival rebel groups. Video footage uploaded online showed armed Islamic State jihadist standing in front of the entrance of the field as the group’s flag flew over a sign reading “Euphrates Oil Company – al-Omar field…………….”

The Wahhabi Jihadists are nowhere near Iraq’s major oil fields, but they have grabbed some Syrian oil fields. Apparently there is worry that they will soon start shipping Syrian oil to buyers. There is a precedent for this: already foreign buyers are eager to buy oil controlled by Kurdish separatists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks and among those mentioned in reports. Already Benyamin Netanyahu, sensing a future opportunity, has blessed the Kurdish ‘enterprise’ when he opined (without being asked) that they should be able to go independent. Netanyahu, who is not known to observe international legal niceties anymore than his neighbors, would not accept the same independent ‘fate’ for Palestinians.

Would an Islamic State be in the future of OPEC? Fortunately not: the Jihadists may harass the vast border region between Syria and Iraq for a few more years, but they may have reached their peak during the last week of June 2014. From now on, it may be the period of pushback in both Iraq and Syria. The hairy ones are likely to get squeezed on two fronts now, with their ‘realm’ getting smaller. If the tribes turn against them, they may be fighting on three fronts. That would be an untenable situation if their suppliers and enablers in Turkey and some Arab states tighten the squeeze on the flow of supplies and fighters. Even the mighty Wehrmacht could not withstand a multi-front war for long.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum