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Elections 2016
Kurds to Hold Independence Referendum

Iraqi Kurdistan may be making its long-anticipated break for full independence. Bloomberg reports:

Massoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, and other Kurdish leaders have all agreed to hold the referendum, said Kifah Mahmoud, an adviser at the president’s office.

While they all agreed to hold the referendum, the vote “doesn’t mean independence. It is the decision of the people,” Mahmoud said.

Initially, the Bloomberg report contained a shocking detail, later “after official retracted”: the Kurds are aiming to get the referendum done before the U.S. Presidential election in November. Fortunately, the Kurdish news site Rudaw also had the story:

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani told political parties on Tuesday that a referendum on Kurdish independence should take place before the US presidential election in November.

According to information obtained by Rudaw, Barzani said the Kurdistan region “should hold a referendum before the US presidential election kicks off,” which would be next November.

So retracted or not, this is clearly a major line of thinking within the Iraqi Kurdish government. Which raises an interesting point: as we’ve pointed out, more and more American enemies have been operating under the presumption that they have until the end of the Obama era to do as they please. Are our friends starting to think the same thing?

While Americans have long been sympathetic to Kurdish aspirations for a state of their own, formal independence has been a tricky balancing issue, involving questions about our NATO ally Turkey (although these days, Ankara is fairly friendly toward Erbil, the “good” Kurds) and the central government in Iraq. But it seems like the Kurds, just as much as any of America’s geopolitical foes, think that if they act in the next ten months or so, nobody is going to stop them. Then they could present a fait accompli to the next Administration.

Its hard not to see the logic. But beware headaches ahead: if this kind of thinking spreads, the world could become even more disordered in the year to come.

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  • Fat_Man

    Working to produce an independent Kurdistan is one of the few positive options still available to the US in the Middle East. The only other one I can think of would be building a base in Northeast Jordan to protect them from ISIS and Iran. Negative options include bombing ISIS until the rubble bounces, bombing Iran back to the Sassanian period, and blowing up all of the fancy equipment we have so improvidently given to the Pakistani Military over the past 65 years.

  • ImperiumVita

    Ray Charles saw it coming.

  • Ellen

    This was inevitable, but the real kicker is the motivation of Barzani. His family has been active in the Kurdish independence movement for generations, waiting for the opportune moment. They are also allies of Israel and get strategic advice from them, I am sure. The #1 piece of strategic advice today is that Obama is a spent and worthless force, meaning American power is less of a factor than Israeli, Turkish or Iranian power in the region. The Arabs, meanwhile, who depended on American power to maintain their facade of strength, have crumbled into failed states (eg, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon) or impotent states (eg, Saudi, UAE, Jordan, not to mention Areas A and B of the West Bank).

    In other words, the self-imposed castration of American power in the region is leaving the regional players who are competent and coherent enough, to pursue their own courses. Israel under Netanyahu is doing so, as are the Kurds, as are the Saudis to the extent that they can given their impotence. This is the true “new Middle East” that our diplomatic dimwits used to prattle on about. Get used to it because this is the world that future presidents will be grappling with, not the past relatively static and US-dependent satrapies.

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