Kurds plan referendum on independence

posted at 8:41 am on July 1, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not as if no one saw this coming. Last week, Masoud Barzani told CNN that the time had arrived for Kurds to go their own way, a comment that prompted a visit from John Kerry to argue that “united Iraq is a stronger Iraq.” Clearly, the Kurds don’t agree — or perhaps more accurately, consider a “united Iraq” a moot point:

The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region has told the BBC he intends to hold a referendum on independence within months.

Massoud Barzani said that Iraq was already “effectively partitioned”.

While the Kurds would play a part in a political solution to the crisis caused by jihadist-led Sunni Arab rebellion, independence was their right, he added.

And it might just be the default position anyway. Iraq’s parliament met today to pick a new government after the recent elections, which favored Nouri al-Maliki — but that was before ISIS swept across Iraq and the army folded under the pressure. Iraq desperately needs leadership that can hold the Sunnis and Kurds in a coalition with the majority Shi’ites against the Sunni extremists that now threaten to sack Baghdad. Faced with this existential threat, the parliament … punted:

Iraq’s inaugural session of parliament failed on Tuesday to agree on the formation of a new government, dampening hopes that the country’s fractious politicians will rise to the challenge presented by the raging insurgency tearing their country apart.

After a brief and at times chaotic meeting, Mehdi al-Hafidh, the acting speaker of the newly elected parliament, adjourned the session until next week, citing the lack of a quorum in the 328-member chamber after Kurdish and Sunni lawmakers withdrew. …

But tensions quickly surfaced after a Kurdish lawmaker and a Shiite one exchanged barbs over the central government’s failure to make budget payments to the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Then a rift among Sunnis emerged over who their parliamentarians will support for the job of speaker.  After a short break, Kurds and some of the Sunnis failed to return to the chamber, leaving the session without the required two-thirds of its members to proceed.

Despite the urgency, and despite the time since the election, none of the three caucuses have managed to pick their own leadership. The Iraqi parliament has a reputation for going to the last minute and beyond for these decisions, a track record that frustrated the US to no end for several years during the occupation period. In this case, though, the Iraqi parliament’s lack of action threatens to run smack into another, entirely different kind of occupation if the country’s leadership can’t get it together.

Small wonder that the Kurds want to pursue independence rather than deal with the fractious Iraq coalition. With Turkey endorsing Kurdish independence in a historic reversal and even Israel at least backing it in theory, what’s the hold-up? Three guesses:

The head of a Kurdish political party told The Jerusalem Post that he thanks Israel’s leaders for their support for an independent Kurdistan and that the US is keeping the Kurds from gaining independence.

The ironies just multiply. The US wants Iraq to remain as a cohesive state, but the Shi’ites under Maliki have made that all but impossible — for which the Obama administration rightly blames Maliki, although the withdrawal of US forces left the political vacuum which Maliki exploited. However, the same administration whose Vice President once insisted on breaking up Iraq into three sectarian/ethnic territories now wants the Kurds to keep submitting to the Shi’ite majority. We’ve come a long way, baby.


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For decades, Democrat presidents have striven for peace in the middle east. Look what Reverse King Midas has done!

Occams Stubble on July 1, 2014 at 8:53 AM

…… a comment that prompted a visit from John Kerry to argue that “united Iraq is a stronger Iraq.”

That doesn’t sound any less stupid with the passage of time.

The reality is that Killary and Obama made Iraq all but untenable and sneaking in “extra” troops above the 300 previously announced merely demonstrates just how much Obama has screwed up. It’s bad enough when you lose a consulate and get caught lying your ass off about it. But when he loses the US Embassy in Baghdad in a way akin to the end of the embassy in South Vietnam……. well those are images that will not be featured in his propaganda library.

Happy Nomad on July 1, 2014 at 8:55 AM

The Sunnis have enough votes to prevent a quorum from forming.

The Shiites even with a large majority can’t call the parliament into session.

goatweed on July 1, 2014 at 9:03 AM

The Kurds are scumbags too. Why so many neo-cons have such a hardon for Kurds is beyond me. Just because they have some quasi-ethno-tribal beef with surrounding Muzzies? They’re just more Muzzie scum.

Screw the Kurds.

WhatSlushfund on July 1, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The only people worth saving in that godforsaken region are Christians and Jews.

WhatSlushfund on July 1, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Wasn’t Barzani the guy the Godfather was fighting against?

8 weight on July 1, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Good for them. The Bahai need a state too.

abobo on July 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Good for them. The Bahai need a state too.

abobo on July 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Two totally different things.

The Kurds are, as I said upthread, a quasi-ethno-tribal group, but also orthodox Sunnis.

On the other hand, Bahai is a religion. And Bahais are morons too. Anyone who has any religious connection to a 7th Century mass-murdering pedophilic warlord is a moron.

The moronic Bahais, however, need not be our top priority. They’re kind of side-morons.

WhatSlushfund on July 1, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Wasn’t Barzani the guy the Godfather was fighting against?

8 weight on July 1, 2014 at 9:37 AM

LOL.

“Tattaglia is a pimp. He never could have outfought Santino. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on July 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

I guess Joe and Lurch must not be speaking.

formwiz on July 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM

As we know from the Crimean affair, this Kurdish secession must be completely illegal.

If Turkey colludes with these “Kurdish separatists” and provokes a partition, NATO must impose harsh sanctions on Istanbul.

Toocon on July 1, 2014 at 10:31 AM

We need to be supporting our best hope in the hole sad affair, our friends the Kurds. I keep hearing there are no good players in the Iraq and Syrian mess but who is it that has effectively fought both ISIS and Assad’s forces? The Kurds. They are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq. What are we doing to help? ISIS has captured tons of advanced equipment, American made weapons that Obama has allowed to fall into Jihadi hands, (not counting what they got in Libya), and what are we doing to help? Getting in their way. Obama’s foreign policy has always been to screw our allies, I guess this newest example should come as no surprise.

Rancher on July 1, 2014 at 10:59 AM

The head of a Kurdish political party told The Jerusalem Post that he thanks Israel’s leaders for their support for an independent Kurdistan and that the US is keeping the Kurds from gaining independence.

Now here is a place the GOP can slam Obama on…why hold this up? Why be against it? It is already a “fact on the ground”..so support it.

If the GOP NeoCons are so worried about a ISIS takeover and a Arab Sunni Jihadist playground, a unified armed Kurdistan would be a excellent counter right on the border of that “playground”.

Can’t trust the Kurds forever, because they are Sunni Muslims themselves, but right now they are hard on their ethnic identity, which means they dislike Arabs more than infidels.

The GOP should demand a independent Kurdistan now and stop trying to support the Bush dream of a united Iraq, which now Obama/Kerry apparently believe in too.

William Eaton on July 1, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Is Obama a Sunni or Shiite? His cabinet..Jarret, Brennan?

Marco on July 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM

…I’ve never have used the term ‘towel head’…but that picture!…I have a dish towel…exactly like that in the kitchen…right now!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 1, 2014 at 11:44 AM

The “Palestinians” (among a few recent others) deserve independence but the Kurds don’t?

Kerry – go f yourself.
Go Kurdistan, Go Peshmerga.

AlexB on July 1, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Hmm. An independent Kurdistan would cause a lot of grief for its neighbours (hi there Turkey), but if US et al can get behind it early on and push, then we may be able to get a useful ally out of it, which would certainly be a good thing.

Or we could oppose it, let them do it alone, and not benefit from this. Guessing Obama’s settled on this option already :P .

Teleros on July 1, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Teleros on July 1, 2014 at 11:59 AM

What can Turkey do for the US?
That’s the real question, isn’t it – not about what’s just, but what can all these terrorist countries do for the U S of A.

The Kurds don’t require a red cent from America, and yet America is against their independence. Who cares about Turkey’s feelings? They stole Kurdish lands decades ago and need to give it up as well.

I know an Iraqi Kurd who hates Turks almost as much as he hates Iraqi Arabs, and when I say “hate” I mean it in the fullest most comprehensive way.

AlexB on July 1, 2014 at 12:03 PM

We need to be supporting our best hope in the hole sad affair, our friends the Kurds. I keep hearing there are no good players in the Iraq and Syrian mess but who is it that has effectively fought both ISIS and Assad’s forces? The Kurds. They are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq. What are we doing to help? ISIS has captured tons of advanced equipment, American made weapons that Obama has allowed to fall into Jihadi hands, (not counting what they got in Libya), and what are we doing to help? Getting in their way. Obama’s foreign policy has always been to screw our allies, I guess this newest example should come as no surprise.

Rancher on July 1, 2014 at 10:59 AM

The US has screwed the Kurds on more than one occasion, yet they still consider themselves our friends and allies. Now that Turkey has given its consent, we need to get behind the idea of Kurdistan and push as hard as we can. But. . . I forget who we are talking about: Ogabe and Lurch, who have never met an American ally they will support or an American enemy they won’t.

catsandbooks on July 1, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Is there anyplace where I can donate to support the Kurds?

Rancher on July 1, 2014 at 12:31 PM

…the US is keeping the Kurds from gaining independence.

Government for the stupid, by the stupid. Welcome to Amerika.

earlgrey on July 1, 2014 at 1:24 PM