News You Really Need To See: “Poised to Gain in Iraq Crisis, Kurds Face New Barriers to Autonomy”

“Poised to Gain in Iraq Crisis, Kurds Face New Barriers to Autonomy”

The New York Times, July 5, 2014, p.A4

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/world/middleeast/poised-to-gain-in-iraq-crisis-kurds-face-new-barriers-to-autonomy.html?_r=0

Gasoline stocks in the Kurdish region are running low, requiring rationing and hourslong waits for a fill-up.  Hundreds of thousands of civil servants have gone months without a paycheck after Baghdad cut payments to the regional government in retaliation for its exporting oil without permission.  At the same time, a tanker filled with Kurdish oil has been stranded for more than a month off the coast of Morocco, prevented from unloading its lucrative cargo because of pressure from United States diplomats and threats by officials in Baghdad that any buyer would face legal challenges.  On the surface, these would appear to be heady days for the Kurds, who seem closer than ever to attaining their centuries-old dream of statehood.  With Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government reeling after an assault by Islamic militants, the autonomous Kurdish region has seized control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and has begun preparations for a referendum on independence. … But now bigger powers are raising objections.  The United States, for one, is pressuring the Kurds to remain a part of Iraq and join in a national unity government that it sees as a starting point for dealing with the current crisis.  Even Turkey, an important economic partner that has helped the Kurds export some of their oil, is against outright independence, fearing that would inflame separatist sentiments in the substantial Kurdish population within its own borders.  The only country in the Middle East that has rallied to the Kurdish cause has been Israel, which historically has had close, albeit covert, ties to the Kurds, seeing them as rare friends in a hostile region.  Yet in a part of the world that is deeply antagonistic to Israel, that association is problematic for the Kurds.”

Quickie Analysis:  Iraqi Kurdistan has been a bright spot in a very troubled region.  For the US to pressure Kurdistan to remain as part of Iraq, even defend Iraq, is a cynical repudiation of the principles laid out in the very Declaration of Independence the US celebrated yesterday: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another….” 

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