"Yes" Vote for Iraqi Kurdistan: A New Chaos Is Redefining Middle East Borders

Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media

Iraqi Kurds voted “yes” in the referendum to start materializing the dream of the 30 million Kurds inhabiting Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Armenia - a dream which begins by establishing an independent state in Iraqi Kurdistan. Despite the announcement of the Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani that the referendum is only the beginning of a negotiation with the central government in Baghdad (and not a “divorce” from the state of Iraq), he hopes (and most probably knows) that independence will be recognized as a fact by the international community sooner or later.

For certain, this referendum – if its result is implemented – can lead to a redefinition of the map of the Middle East, and the countries of Iraq and Syria to start with where Kurds in both countries control enough energy resources to sustain their “state”. Leaders around the world said, during the war in Syria, that the Middle East would never return as it was to before 2011, probably referring to the “Islamic State” (ISIS) occupation of large part of Syria and Iraq. But today, their prediction may come true through the Kurds – even though the “Islamic State” (ISIS) “project” failed to reach its objective, that of dividing Syria and Iraq.

Thus, the Kurdish will to establish an independent state is giving greater power to Turkey, which will hold the key of the Kurdish future state and to the partition of the Middle East. In fact, in Iraq, Ankara will play a crucial role in the coming months or years in reshaping Mesopotamia and the Levant. Kurdistan exports its main oil revenue through Turkey, putting Erbil at Ankara’s mercy. Therefore, if Turkey considers independence a threat to its national security, it will not hesitate to send troops into Kurdistan, triggering probably numbness and little effective reaction from Baghdad. Moreover, recent media coverage which showed Iranian Kurds in Kirkuk encourages a free hand and perfect excuse for Tehran to hit these forces in Iraq if Erbil takes further measures towards independence.

Image via Elijah J. Magnier

Just prior to Monday's referendum, a Kurdish delegation from Erbil visited Baghdad to negotiate with the central government a postponement and rescheduling of the vote. They presented a series of conditions (considered unacceptable by Baghdad) insisting on a future Kurdish independent state. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi showed no flexibility and launched threats against Erbil. Abadi declared the closure of airspace over Erbil and asked neighboring countries to follow this step, to which Tehran and Ankara have responded positively. According to Nawzad Adham, Kurdistan general director at the Trade and Industry local Ministry, Kurdistan business exchanges with Turkey and Iran exceed $10 billion per year. Kurdistan imports 95% of its agriculture needs from Turkey and Iran and depends on Turkey to export its oil.

Kurdistan escaped most of the destruction caused by the first Gulf war in 1991, the Iraqi occupation in 2003 and the war against ISIS in 2014 (to-date). The Kurds are spread over 40.000 km2, they control over 20% of the Iraqi oil  (Iraq produces around 4.35 million barrels per day (b/d) and Kurdistan 900.000 b/d), its energy reserves are estimated around 45 billion barrels of oil and 150 trillion cubic meter of gas, and it exports around 600.000 b/d via Turkey. Oil has long been the source of dispute between Baghdad and Erbil: in October 2011, the Kurds signed an exploration deal with the US oil giant Exxon Mobil (of which US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the former CEO) for six exploration blocks, and this without Central government approval, sparking the first official confrontation with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Since then, Kurdistan has refrained from agreeing on any fiscal control from the finance Ministry related to oil (and telecommunication) revenue cashed in by Erbil and consequently Baghdad has refrained from paying 17% of its total oil revenue - since 25% of Iraqi total oil revenue is apparently ending in Kurdish leaders’ pockets.

Many western officials considered the Kurds as the only serious US partner against ISIS. However, it was the same Barzani who praised the ISIS occupation of Mosul in June 2014 because it offered an opportunity for the partition of Iraq. Moreover, Iraqi forces (including the Popular Mobilization Units) lost more than 10,000 men, and recovered most of the territory controlled by ISIS, while the Kurds of Erbil limited them to defend Kurdistan, lost around 1300 men, and took back Sinjar in a few hours after allowing ISIS to leave the Iraqi city to Syria.

Barzani counts on international recognition to protect his “new state” in the future, regardless of the verbally negative stance of many countries, including the US, the UK and the UN. The Kurdish leader is not politically suicidal and would never insist on such a controversial step without enough international political support behind him, despite what is overtly announced by the major external powers. Kurds in Iraq believe the referendum is a historical opportunity that can't be missed, while Baghdad believes it is a huge mistake which Kurds will regret in the future. In fact, Iraqi PM Abadi is taking gradual measures against Barzani. These measures are expected to increase, putting in jeopardy the future of Iraqi Kurdish businesses and communities in many parts of Iraq, which includes over 1.5 million Kurdish employees within the various Iraqi state ministries and official institutions, and may very well lead to a military confrontation in the main contested areas, especially the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk (the oil fields are situated outside the city and under Kurdish Peshmerga control).

Army Col. Ralph Peters' controversial "Blood Borders" map envisioning the future Middle East and studied at US war colleges. Originally published in the Armed Forces Journal - which identifies the map as its most viewed and downloaded of all time. Via Wiki Commons.

In Syria, the Kurdish future “federation” (Kurds in Syria are expected to start with a request for a federation before moving on towards a state, like in Iraq) will force a Damascus-Ankara collaboration, obliging Syria to turn a blind eye on the Turkish forces present in the north of the country and postpone its claim to recover its territory for a while. A rich Kurdish Federation in Syria and “state” in Iraq will definitely create a serious menace to Turkey that is holding the largest Kurdish population (over 16 million). The Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan is in a privileged position but also needs to play his cards skilfully to avoid consequences on his own territory: once the Kurds of Iraq show their will to have a state, those in the rest of the region won’t stay long before following the same path.

In fact, the Syrian Kurds count around 8% of the population but control (under the US forces command and guidance) today 25% of the territory and 40% of oil and gas resources assuming they keep control over the oil and gas rich province of Deir Ezzor in northeast Syria. The Kurds have already initiated local community elections and are planning for council elections in the next months, with the election of a parliament expected next year in northeast Syria.

The end of ISIS’s control of territories in Syria and Iraq is certain by 2018. However, it is also certain that the Middle East is coming into a new period of chaos, putting all borders into question, and affecting the stability of the region.


God Emperor Crazy Or Not Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:55 Permalink

IRAN won't let that happen. They know Israel is behind the Kurds independence, what nice would be for Mossad to have some bases just on Iran's doorstep.Not to mention all that oil and natural gas for financing their deeds. Just cross off ISIL name and put Kurdistan.The bosses are the same.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/14/israel-becomes-first-state-b…

In reply to by Crazy Or Not

a Smudge by an… Broken_Trades Tue, 09/26/2017 - 19:41 Permalink

How does any of this happen? What legal pretext (pretense?) is any of this based on?Tell you what it looks like from this desert. It looks like one hell of a fine piece of propaganda. They injected the word "Kurdistan" into the national dialogue.As suggested above nobody but the Kurds (and the USA cough cough) have any interest in seeing Kurdistan reinvented. However we have used them as a foil again and again.

In reply to by Broken_Trades

SDShack evoila Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:33 Permalink

And Syria losses all sea access, being replaced by Greater Lebanon. This USSA War College Map explains everything about Israel control and the need to get that damn pipeline into Southern Europe through Turkey. Of course it also shows why Russia didn't play ball with the carve up of Syria, and why Iran doesn't play ball with the expansion of Lebanon, and how the Kurds have always just been pawns in the Neo-con/lib game of RISK.

In reply to by evoila

Veritas X- Tallest Skil Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:23 Permalink

Worth a repeat here:Barzani is a mozzad agent & buttf-cked by BB. Don't believe me? LOOK: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=barzani+mossad&t=ffab&ia=web  BARZANI'S ISRAEL TRIP IN 1960ies - SARA Distribution BARZANI'S ISRAEL TRIP IN ... Visit of the Mossad to Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani's head quarter in Kurdistan's mountains in 1966. — With Safti Barzani, ... saradistribution.com/barzanisisraelresa.htm Masoud Barzani - Wikipedia Masoud Barzani (Kurdish: ??????? ??????? ‎ or Mesûd Barzanî; born 16 August 1946) is an Iranian-born Iraqi Kurdish politician who has been President ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massoud_Barzani 'Barzani-Mossad ili?kisi 90'larda belgelenmi?ti' - Timeturk ... IKBY'nin 25 Eylül'de gerçekle?tirece?i ba??s?zl?k referandumu, mitinglerde aç?lan ?srail bayraklar?yla gündeme gelirken Barzani ailesi ve Mossad ... https://www.timeturk.com/barzani-mossad-iliskisi-90-larda-belgelen... "Mossad sent me to Kurdistan to help the Kurds": Sagi Chori "Mossad sent me to Kurdistan to help ... These questions had been discussed and answered with Sagi Chori who was one of Mala Mustafa Barzani closest ... Kurds knew ... ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2011/7/state5261.htm --------- X-

In reply to by Tallest Skil

Conscious Reviver fairmontobsever Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:22 Permalink

Kurds, slaves of Israeli Zionists."The Kurds Are Ethnically Cleansing Arabs From Raqqa, And The World Is Silent" https://www.globalvillagespace.com/kurds-ethnically-cleansing-arabs-raq…"Thousands of refugees have fled into Turkey, with some claiming they were fleeing the YPG as much as the fighting and US-led bombing campaign" http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11676808/Syr…"No ISIS There - Are U.S. Troops In Hasakah "Advising" Kurds To Attack The Syrian Army?" http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/hasakah-are-us-troops-advising-kur…"Kurds' Peshmerga Clash With Yazidi Militia in Western Iraq" https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703031051231251-kurds-peshmerga-y…"The Barzani family that governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist, is historically connected to Israel. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, father of the current president Massoud Barzani, was one of Mossad’s high official." http://www.voltairenet.org/article197968.html

In reply to by fairmontobsever

gogobuffalo Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:38 Permalink

Further Middle East chaos will guarantee that us progressives will have power for DECADES.All this chaos just creates more refugees.  More refugees = more leftist voters in western countries.I'm open about this because you conservatives will never be able to stop it.  You can't even stop illegal immigration.  The browning of america and Europe will cement the rule of progressives for decades to come.  These people vote left 70%+.  The second you try to stop it, our lapdog media will just call you racist.  LOL!  It's called checkmate guys.  It's over for you.  You're not allowed to talk about how different races have different cultures.  You aren't allowed to talk about how different races have different IQs. We control the media, the schools, and we control the conversations.So why not join the winning team?  Progressives care about POWER, and I see where this wave can take me.

gogobuffalo cossack55 Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:48 Permalink

What kind of response is that?Tell me: based on demographics, minorities will become the majority of the electorate, and poll after poll shows minorities vote left the vast majority of the time.If conservatives can barely win elections now, how will you possibly win the elections of the future?It's over.  Checkmate.

In reply to by cossack55

lew1024 gogobuffalo Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:38 Permalink

A couple of problems with your scenario.First, the IQ scores of different countries and different years are only comparable in the sense of 'the result of scoring a set of questions carefully selected to produce mean 100, SD 16'. Thus, if you judge a race or cultural group to be below-average in IQ, it means you are using the wrong test for that population.So far as I know, there is no culture-neutral IQ test, and can be none, in the nature of IQ tests.  IQ tests measure IQ, not intelligence, remember? They have good predictive power of a person's ability to do academics, but that isn't intelligence either, merely one aspect of intelligence in this group mind we call civilization.Second, you skipped a small hysteresis, a lag in the refugees becoming citizens and voting left vs the actual existing voters who previously voted left, have more reccently gone some version of different, which the leftist press says is 'rightist', more 'us against outsiders'.In fact, Progressives of both the Left (socialist) and the Right (Israeli-Neocons), both believing in the use of unlimited government power for the good of all mankind, are losing these days. The US lost in Syria and must withdraw troops over the next decade because of budget constraints. I think China, Russia and Iran can wait. The Left approved all that in return for more government here at home, more of everything. That is all falling part also, as the domestic economy craters.I don't think that Progressives of any ideology have the on-the-ground organization to profit from a serious downturn, where the government has no effective resources. Community saves itself under severe circumstances, or it doesn't happen.We can ar gue about how fast that comes, but it is the endgame of the debt inflation game we are in. And I don't see how it proceeds to a win for any ideology except rugged individuals in a community, the old ways coming back, block by block.

In reply to by gogobuffalo

Miss Expectations Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:40 Permalink

The Yazidis (also Yezidi, Êzidî) are a Kurdish religious community whose syncretic but ancient religion Yazidism (a kind of Yazdânism) is linked to Zoroastrianism and ancient Mesopotamian religions, however Yazidis form a distinct and independent religious community and have their own culture. They live primarily in the Nineveh Province of Iraq.ISIS Impregnate Yazidi girls to destroy their blonde-haired, blue-eyed bloodlinehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9dvQavOwAY

Broken_Trades Vimes Tue, 09/26/2017 - 19:48 Permalink


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — An American observer of Kurdistan’s independence referendum process on Monday trusts “what the results are,” and he has “good reason to believe” a letter he drafts will be on US President Donald Trump’s desk soon."I was thrilled with what I saw today. I went to several voting booths with some other people. Everything was peaceful. Nobody was fighting. There were no guns, no uproar of any kind,” Terry Law, the founder of World Compassion Ministries told Rudaw in an interview.The Christian pastor called what he witnessed on Monday "very well managed and organized.”"I went to various voting places. Everything I saw was class-action, it was well done… I will believe what the results are. I think everyone in the world should believe on what is voted on here today in Erbil,” said Law."What I saw today indicated to me that you had a true election and I am excited about the fact that this may be the beginning of Kurdish freedom in every sense of the word.”He hopes the White House changes its position, describing a previous recent visit to Kurdistan with 13 other pastors and his interactions with local officials and clergy of different Christian denominations.“It matters very much that my people, my friends are protected and that the new constitution looks after their rights as well,” said Law.Since 2003, the Christian population in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region has dwindled from an estimated 1.5 million to 400,000 before ISIS in 2014. Local organizations now estimate that about 200,000 Christians remain — nearly all of whom now live in the Kurdistan or the Nineveh Plains, which is a disputed or Kurdistani area claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.“I was told by Nechirvan Barzani and Karim Sinjari that their aims are to protect all Christians in the land, so that they will be able to participate in freedom in their country and everybody will live happily together,” he said, referring to the Kurdish PM, as well as the Interior Minister who is also the acting Peshmerga Minister. He explained he is in the process of drafting a letter of what he has seen in Kurdistan.“I have good reason to believe that will be on the President’s desk within the next week to two weeks,” Law said. “America’s military has got to realize that Kurdistan is sitting on the border of Iran.”The United States has opposed the timing of the referendum and has expressed it lacks international legitimacy.The State Department released a statement after voting ended on Monday night saying it was “deeply disappointed that the Kurdistan Regional Government decided to conduct today a unilateral referendum on independence.”It particularly was concerned that the vote took place in the disputed areas, stating “this step will increase instability and hardships for the Kurdistan Region and its people.”The statement encouraged all sides to engage “constructively in a dialogue to improve the future of all Iraqis.”The State Department added that “the United States’ historic relationship with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will not change…”

In reply to by Vimes

bh2 Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:42 Permalink

A successfully established Kurdistan nation would be an attractive partner for any of the great powers to use as a geo-political platform. A fact not lost on the several states which it would border.

adr Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:44 Permalink

IN that updated map, Israel is pretty much gone. Guess we know why they pushed up their plans of completely conquering the USA with 9/11.

chickadee Tue, 09/26/2017 - 15:58 Permalink

The division of the middle east at Versailles after WW1 created this mess which makes no ethnic sense. It only makes sense from an access to oil regions point of view for Britain and France.

gregga777 Vigilante Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:39 Permalink

Extra: The Onion


Austria declares war on Serbia declares war on
Germany declares war on France declares war on
Turkey declares war on Russia declares war on
Bulgaria declares on Britain

Ottoman Empire almost declares war on itself

Nations struggle to remember Allies

Area drunkard
Declares war
On Ireland

Assassination of Arch-
duke spreads fear at
Archduke convention

In reply to by Vigilante

Brazen Heist Tue, 09/26/2017 - 16:12 Permalink

"Many western officials considered the Kurds as the only serious US partner against ISIS"And therein lies the stupidity of Western officials. Can't partner with Syrians? Can't partner with the many Iranian militias, that are very effective against Wahhabi terrorism? Can't partner with Russia, which obliterated ISIS from above? Nope. Morons in charge. Picking one set of puppets - Kurds, highlights the inability of the Anglo Zionists to work with those who demand a little more respect than that of a doormat.Btw, this referendum is a non-issue for now, it will be swept under the rug and delayed. But it will return later on in the future, when the MIC is ready to move into their new Kurdish home, after they get their asses handed to them almost everywhere else.

gregga777 Brazen Heist Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:53 Permalink

It would be helpful to know what the US grand strategy (strategies) is (are) in Chaostan. That is, assuming that there is (are) a US grand strategy (strategies). It's difficult to discern the strategy, if there is one, amidst all of the chaos. That's why I think that there are multiple, diametrically opposed US Chaostan grand strategies. At least, that could explain the chaos in Chaostan.


In reply to by Brazen Heist