President Obama’s decision to leave Syria to fester has already done much to destabilize neighboring Iraq. But if this morning’s veiled threats from the president of Iraq’s Kurdish region Masoud Barzani is taken at face value, things are about to get much more serious and complicated:
“If the reports are true, showing that citizens, women and the children of innocent Kurds are under threat from murder and terrorism, Iraq’s Kurdistan region will make use of all of its capabilities to defend women and children and innocent citizens,” Barzani’s statement said. He did not elaborate on the nature or extent of possible intervention from Kurdistan. […]Posted on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website, Barzani’s statement referred to areas in Syria as “Western Kurdistan.” Spread over large, adjoining tracts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurdish people are often described as the largest ethnic group without their own state.
Iraq’s Kurds have their own army under the Iraqi constitution, so they may very well be able and willing to intervene in a foreign conflict that Baghdad, which tends to side with Iran and Assad, has ruled out from participating in. Kurdish intervention could not only fan the flames in Syria, but also bring the sovereignty and cohesiveness of Iraq into sharp relief. In addition, the pointed reference to “Western Kurdistan” is sure to have raised eyebrows in Turkey and Iran, both countries with sizable Kurdish minorities.And so we have yet another reminder that choosing to do nothing in Syria was a choice with as many potentially terrible consequences as doing something early on.