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Jedburgh 07-19-2006 02:52 PM

Iraq and the Kurds: The Brewing Battle Over Kirkuk
From ICG: Iraq and the Kurds: The Brewing Battle Over Kirkuk

In drafting Article 140 of the constitution, Kurdish leaders believed they were gaining guaranteed acquisition of Kirkuk. However, because of the way the constitution was achieved – through a rushed process culminating in a political deal between the Kurds and a single Shiite party, SCIRI, to the exclusion of many other parties, communities and minorities, as well as civil society organisations and public opinion more broadly – it reflects imposition of a Kurdish template for Kirkuk rather than a consensus agreement. As a result, a Kirkuk referendum may not happen, certainly not by the December 2007 deadline, and Kurdish aspirations may well flounder.

For the Kurds, this deadline thus threatens to become a self-laid trap. Having raised expectations and convinced their people to defer their Kirkuk ambitions by a couple of years, Kurdish leaders must now deliver by the end of 2007 or meet their wrath. As a Kurdish official put it, “we concentrated so much on Kirkuk, we would lose face if we now lowered our position. This is the problem”.

This is a problem, however, not only for the Kurdish leadership, but for all Iraqis, as the Kurds’ failure to secure Kirkuk by lawful, constitutional procedure may drive them to reckless adventurism with the risk of violence, civil war and possibly (direct or indirect) foreign intervention...

zenpundit 07-19-2006 11:02 PM

New book
Former USG official ( I think State or NSC) Peter W. Galbraith has a new book out arguing, essentially, for a partition of Iraq.

The End of Iraq

Galbraith is best known from the chapters on the Kurdish genocide in Samantha Power's book A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide

Jedburgh 07-19-2006 11:20 PM


Originally Posted by zenpundit
Former USG official ( I think State or NSC) Peter W. Galbraith has a new book out arguing, essentially, for a partition of Iraq.

The End of Iraq

Other articles discussing that option have been posted on SWC here and here

Cordesman of CSIS has also just published another short commentary, Losing the War in Iraq?

Jedburgh 04-19-2007 05:31 PM

ICG, 19 Apr 07: Iraq and the Kurds: Resolving the Kirkuk Crisis

....The U.S. needs to recognise the risk of an explosion in Kirkuk and press the Kurds, the Baghdad government and Turkey alike to adjust policies and facilitate a peaceful settlement.

The studied bystander mode assumed by Washington, the Kurds’ sole ally, has not been helpful. Preoccupied with their attempt to save Iraq by implementing a new security plan in Baghdad, the Bush administration has left the looming Kirkuk crisis to the side. This neglect can cost the U.S. severely. If the referendum is held later this year over the objections of the other communities, the civil war is very likely to spread to Kirkuk and the Kurdish region, until now Iraq’s only area of quiet and progress. If the referendum is postponed without a viable facesaving alternative for the Kurds, their leaders may withdraw from the Maliki cabinet and thus precipitate a governmental crisis in Baghdad just when the security plan is, in theory, supposed to yield its political returns....

tequila 04-19-2007 05:39 PM

Note that Galbraith writes from a very pro-Kurdish vantage point, for understandable reasons. I think he also serves as a sort of advisor for one or both of the Kurdish parties.

SWJED 09-28-2007 09:48 PM

Security May Trump Ethnicity in Kirkuk
Security May Trump Ethnicity in Kirkuk - Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times.


A staunch Arab nationalist, Ismail Hadidi once dreaded the possibility that his ethnically diverse city would be swallowed up by the neighboring semiautonomous Kurdish region and cut off from the Baghdad government.

But the provincial councilman is also a practical man. And when he compares the chaos and violence in the Iraqi capital with the prosperity and peace next door in the three-province Kurdistan Regional Government area, teaming up with the Kurds doesn't seem like such a bad idea. He's even considering buying some property in the Kurdish enclave.

"The people of Kirkuk were afraid of this," said Hadidi, a Sunni Arab tribal leader. "But given the situation, I believe most people will move toward being part of Kurdistan, because what the people want above all is security."

Uncertainty clouds Iraq's future, but not so much here. The Kurdish region's exploding economic and political power has begun to shape northern Iraq's reality...

Jedburgh 11-09-2008 04:41 AM

ICG, 28 Oct 08: Oil for Soil: Toward a Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds

......Difficult negotiations over a provincial elections law in July-September 2008 were only the latest indication of the centrality of the Kirkuk question. A minority in Iraq, the Kurds have deployed all available legal and institutional mechanisms to facilitate their quest for Kirkuk. Still, they have failed to overcome the odds. The result has been a growing political standoff that is immediately destabilising – witness developments in and around Khanaqin in August-September – and, perhaps even more dangerously, challenges the foundations of the post-2003 order. The territorial dispute stems from a deeper Arab-Kurdish conflict that has its origins in the state’s creation almost a century ago and has yet to be settled, whether through accommodation or by force. At its core it is a struggle between rival nationalisms with conflicting territorial claims to border areas, which the two groups claim based on historical demographic presence rather than on established boundaries, which never existed. Today, the goal should be a negotiated, consensus-based accommodation enshrined in the constitution, ratified in a referendum and guaranteed by the international community.

Deadlocked negotiations over the hydrocarbons and related laws, the architecture of federalism and the constitution review, together with growing tensions in disputed territories such as Khanaqin, suggest that these negotiations ought to shift from their focus on single issues to a grand bargain. A comprehensive approach will demand painful compromises from key stakeholders – principally Arabs and Kurds – who will be unable to provide their constituencies all they had promised them. It also will require overcoming deeply entrenched fears and mistrust.....

RJS 12-16-2008 10:26 AM

My understanding is Galbraith is a paid lobbyist for the KRG. He writes well though and as someone with experience in Kurdistan, I find he is very accurate in his assessment of the situation.

Jedburgh 01-19-2009 03:17 PM

WINEP, 14 Jan 09: Kirkuk: A Test for the International Community

On January 31, most Iraqis will go to the polls and express their political preferences in provincial elections, but four of Iraq's provinces -- the three governorates within the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Kirkuk province -- will not hold elections. Kirkuk's noninclusion is a symbol of its unresolved status, and its elections are on hold until the Council of Representatives in Baghdad passes a special election law. There is little impetus, however, for the different ethnic factions to compromise on such a law unless the international community strongly supports the process.....

Jedburgh 03-29-2011 04:31 PM

ICG, 28 Mar 11: Iraq and the Kurds: Confronting Withdrawal Fears

....Given great uncertainty over how security conditions will develop along the trigger line in the coming year, progress in political negotiations over the disputed territories’ status has become more imperative than ever. While neither Baghdad nor Erbil appears to have an interest in armed confrontation, and both sides seem intent for the moment to capitalise on the mutual goodwill that arose from formation of the new coalition government, the disputed territories conflict is so fundamental to Baghdad-Erbil relations that a single incident could trigger a dangerous escalation. The unilateral deployment of Kurdish asaesh in Kirkuk city in November 2010 and of peshmergas / zerevanis into Kirkuk governorate in February 2011 were two such incidents. Violence has been avoided so far, in large measure because of the Baghdad-Erbil-U.S. security arrangement, but these moves stoked local anger as well as unease over the Kurds’ long-term plans; they could still give rise to violent response and will vastly complicate negotiations for a deal, especially if the Kurds’ military forces are not withdrawn to the Kurdistan region....
USIP, 28 Mar 11: Preventing Arab-Kurd Conflict in Iraq after the Withdrawal of U.S. Forces

  • Since the fall of the former regime, in 2003, there has been continuous concern that fighting might break out between the Arabs and the Kurds over Kirkuk and the boundary of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
  • In response to requests to help manage tensions between the different security forces, General Odierno, then Commanding General of United States Forces-Iraq, developed a Joint Security Architecture, bringing together Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish forces, and US forces to work against their common enemy, the al-Qaeda.
  • US forces are due to start pulling out of their conflict prevention role along the ‘trigger line’ that divides the Kurds and the Arabs in the disputed territories, by the summer of 2011. Unless new conflict prevention mechanisms are put in place, there is a real risk that tensions could boil over as people tire of waiting for a political resolution.

Bill Moore 10-21-2017 09:51 PM

First off we need to stop closing these threads, the history of these issues as they evolve are important. Kirkuk was a flash point in 2003 when we first went in, and has remained a flashpoint. The Kurds waited until they thought they had a position of advantage to claim it as sovereign ground. I have mixed feelings on the issue, I know Turkey (a NATO ally sort of), Iran, Syria, and Iraq are all opposed to an independent Kurdistan, and Kirkuk is essential to an independent Kurdistan's economic viability. However, with opposition on all sides to a landlocked country, how can they hope to survive if over flight into and out of is denied, and land lines of communication are closely monitored and controlled?

US strategy sees Raqa fall but leaves Kurds in lurch


The power shift shows that, while US leadership has kept a coalition together long enough to defeat the militants, the region's political future is far from secure.

And experts warn that Washington's bitter foe Iran is poised to take advantage while US friends like the Iraqi Kurds retreat under pressure from Baghdad and Ankara.
Much like the other results of our war with Iraq, there is nothing unfolding now that was not predicted by regional experts. The only surprise is it took this long to happen. While many of us wish the Kurds the best, those who know the Kurds also know they're divided, and a number of outside actors, Iran being one of them, will leverage these tensions to pursue their ends.

Bill Moore 10-24-2017 07:30 PM

This article is relevant to the discussion.

Areas Freed From Islamic State Will Test U.S. Policy On Limiting Overseas Role


Losing the Syrian Kurds as allies may be inevitable: Supremely pragmatic, they have never completely cut ties with Assad and Russia.

“The Americans were useful to them, but they were not in dreamland, thinking that the Americans were ever anything more than occasional, useful partners,” said Paul Salem, senior vice president for analysis and research at the Middle East Institute.

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