June 29, 2014

Updates On Iraq [6.29] Netanyahu Is The First Leader To Recognize Kurdish Independence In Iraq; Turkey Is Also On Board

An excerpt from, "Israeli PM Netanyahu endorses Kurdish independence citing chaos in Iraq" RT, June 29, 2014:
Citing the “collapse” of Iraq amid the ISIS insurgency and sectarian violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the de-facto independence of Iraqi Kurds. Netanyahu has also called to support the “Kurdish aspiration for independence.”

The hawkish Israeli leader said on Sunday that Kurds are “fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence,” Reuters reported.

Speaking to Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank, Netanyahu described the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general as a “collapse,” due to strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. 
An excerpt from, "Çelik signals Turkey to welcome independent Kurdish state in Iraq" Today's Zaman, June 29, 2014:
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik has indicated that Turkey will recognize a Kurdish state in northern Iraq if the crisis-stricken country is divided, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

“If Iraq is divided and it is inevitable, [the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)] are our brothers. … Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq is not good and it looks like it is going to be divided,” Çelik said in his remarks to the Financial Times.

He also reportedly said that although an independent Kurdish state was previously a reason for war for Turkey, no one has the right to say so now.
Both Israel and Turkey have a lot to gain from an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. The Turkish government has signed an oil deal with Kurdistan Regional Government authorities that has been described as the "most generous" deal in the history of the Turkish republic by Turkish officials. Getting cheap energy has always been a key factor in Turkey's desire to develop stronger ties with the Kurds in Iraq.

Oil was also key in forming the Israeli-Egyptian relationship that has lasted to this day, so oil is good for some things like instilling political moderation in greedy but needy geopolitical rivals.

There are also 100 Turkish companies that have invested in the KRG economy, so protecting its lucrative business ties in the region is another reason for Turkey's political support for the KRG's independence aspirations. But it's not just Turkish companies that want to protect their business interests. Western companies are also investing in the region. A report by Invest in Group (IIG) said that, "55% of all investment in Iraq is taking place in the Kurdistan Region."

There is also a security dimension to Turkey's support for the KRG. Turkish officials view the Kurdish region in Iraq as a buffer against the ISIS treat in Western Iraq. They said that ISIS terrorists would like to harm Turkey next because the extremist Jihadist group views the majority of moderate Sunnis of Turkey as heretics and infidels.

The irony is that the governing party in Turkey, the Erdogan-led AKP (Justice and Development Party), a Muslim Brotherhood organization, has been backing ISIS in Syria for over three years. Read this excerpt from, "ISIS and the threat to Turkey" by Merve Tahiroglu, Long War Journal, June 21, 2014:
In an address to his party meeting on June 17, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkey's main opposition leader, openly accused Erdogan of supporting ISIS, saying that for the first time in history Turkey has become a country that supports terrorism. "The biggest terror attack in our history was done by al Qaeda in 2003, and yet so many foreign al Qaeda fighters have crossed over to the Middle East from Turkey. We have paid the price for this, and we continue paying it," Kilicdaroglu said. Following the speech, the Republican People's Party (CHP) submitted a proposal to the parliament for an inquiry into ISIS funding by Turkey.

On the same day, Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Turkish Nationalist Party (MHP), also made a similar speech. Calling the apparent shift in the government's Syria policy the product of "a late confession of remorse," he explained that those who helped and provided support to ISIS in Syria are now primarily responsible for the blood that is being shed. "Unfortunately the AKP is in this mess and it is a rotten ring of this dark hand that has inflamed this ISIS monster. The AKP's Syria policy is the reason why our borders are now filled with radical and savage elements," Bahceli said.
Israel is the first country to recognize Kurdish independence for cultural, political, and strategic reasons. It is totally natural. Some of the reasons for Israel's support for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq were laid out in an article by Seymour Hersh in June 2004. Here is an excerpt:
Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.
The Kurdish-Israeli collaboration inevitably expanded, the Israeli said. Some Israeli operatives have crossed the border into Iran, accompanied by Kurdish commandos, to install sensors and other sensitive devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. The former officer said, “Look, Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way—as balance against Saddam. It’s Realpolitik.” He added, “By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.” He went on, “What Israel was doing with the Kurds was not so unacceptable in the Bush Administration.”

Senior German officials told me, with alarm, that their intelligence community also has evidence that Israel is using its new leverage inside Kurdistan, and within the Kurdish communities in Iran and Syria, for intelligence and operational purposes.
Ten years ago, Turkey was not ready to accept an independent Kurdish state on their doorstep. But it has slowly changed its mind. Last year it signed a ceasefire agreement with the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, and an oil deal with KRG authorities in Iraq. These are positive steps.

The leaders of the Turks and the Kurds have come to the sane and rational conclusion that peace, friendship, and prosperity is a better future for their peoples and their countries than bloody uprisings, zero economic growth, mass refugee populations, destruction of infrastructure, and costly wars.

Maybe Arabs, Iranians, and Jews could come to a similar understanding and solve the Israel-Palestine crisis to the benefit of all parties involved. Who knows, if extremists speaking for religion do not get in the way, maybe they will.

We should never rule anything out in the Middle East.