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.