Iraq has slim hope of Iranian-Turkish backing against Kurds – even economic warfare


Amid all the muscle-flexing and the beating of war drums, Iraq, Turkey and Iraq are thinking twice before going to war on the Kurdish Republic of northern Iraq (KRG). For now, they are thinking in terms of economic punishment for Monday’s independence referendum.
On the military side, Baghdad has done little: On Saturday, Sept. 30, Iraqi troops were sent into Iran and Turkey for posting on their borders with Kurdistan. On Friday, an Iraqi aviation blockade was imposed on international air flights to the KRG, followed by a threat that Iraqi fighter jets would shoot down any passenger planes attempting to land at Irbil or Sulaymanieyh airports.

That threat effectively cleared Kurdish skies and airports of commercial traffic.
Local military commanders, including Kurds on the spot, reported that Iraqi forces were about to set up border crossings around the Kurdish republic parallel to the KRG border posts, pending permission from Tehran and Ankara. Iraqi customs officers would then impose heavy taxes on any vehicles entering Kurdistan.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi put these steps in train in an effort to compel KRG President Masoud Barzani to cancel the results of the referendum, which gave him a mandate to declare Kurdish independence. and secede from Iraq.

His chances of achieving this are slim, according to DEBKAfile’s analysts. Barzani is not budging. And even for a full-scale economic blockade, Baghdad would depend on full military and economic cooperation from Ankara and Tehran.

If al-Abadi decided to go for the military option, he would expose Iraq to entanglement in a full-blown conflict, in which his Shiite-majority army would be forced to engage the Kurdish Sunni Peshmerga forces. And worse, it would carry a high risk of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia joining the fray in large numbers. The Iraqi army could not hope to stand up to this combined force.

As for a full-scale economic war, then too Iraq would have to count on Iran and Turkey agreeing to seal their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan and suspending imports to and exports from the wayward republic. Turkey’s closure of the Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk oil pipeline to its Mediterranean coast would be highly effective; it would deprive the KRG of $17 billion in annual revenue.

On the other hand, Ankara would be seen reneging on the 50-year contract it signed with Irbil in 2014 (in the face of Baghdad’s objections) at high cost to Turkey’s international credibility as a trading partner, especially in the field of energy. It is hard to see President Tayyip Erdogan taking that risk.

Furthermore, Ankara’s stake in the Kurdish republic’s industry and other fields is extensive. More than 4,000 Turkish companies operate in the KRG, including many construction, cement and steel factories, accounting for an annual turnover of around $9 billion, which Ankara can’t afford to sacrifice.

Tehran’s dependence on Iraqi Kurdistan is likewise substantial: Many firms in western Iran rely heavily on the markets of Sulaymaniyeh in eastern Kurdistan for their exports, while the region buys many products from Kurdish suppliers.

For all these reasons, the front set up ad hoc by Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran to beat Barzani into relinquishing his plan for an independent Kurdistan state stands on shaky legs.
Furthermore, both the United States and Russia back the KRG and are unlikely to stand still for extreme measures against Irbil. Shortly before the referendum, The Russian energy giant Rosneft signed a contract to develop Kurdish oil and gas fields in Kirkuk to the tune of $1 billion.
It is now up to Barzani to decide how he wants to play the high card he has won by refusing to be intimidated into cancelling the independence referendum. He may get away with it, if he plays it cool and sits down with Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara for negotiations on the future. But if he goes all the way and declares Kurdish independence and separation from Iraq while tempers are still high, the KRG may be in for harsh punishment from its three enraged neighbors.

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18 thoughts on “Iraq has slim hope of Iranian-Turkish backing against Kurds – even economic warfare

  • Sep 30, 2017 @ 21:00 at 21:00

    There Should (Will) Be An Independent Kurdistan, Just As There
    Are The Countries Of Isreal & Armenia (No One Can Justifiably
    Explain, ‘Why Not’).

    Dave G

    • Oct 1, 2017 @ 15:58 at 15:58

      There should be an independent Palestine. As BIbi said the Kurd have aspiration and so do Palestinian. Israel supporting Kurd is not a good omen for them!

      • Oct 1, 2017 @ 18:01 at 18:01

        There is no such thing as an palestinian people or nation to form or require a state. While kurds have an ancient culture and language to differ from other nations, the so called palestinians are nothing but arab emigrants who poored into the english ruled Mandate for Palestine from 1917 onwards to occupy the land after the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Some bosniaks from the Balcans were sent there by the turkish sultan Abdulahmid after the first Zionist Congress in Basel, on 1897, to prevent any attempt of jewish souvarainity in the Land of Israel, from the Sea to Jordan. Most of todays palestinians are kurds, turkmen, arabs from Arabia or Egypt, even Agerians: all emigrants, without any ethnic or cultural background to base their claims. Ypur fake comparison is fake, as fake as the Fakesteenian bluff of Arafat and Abass.

      • Oct 2, 2017 @ 22:07 at 22:07

        But the Kurds also have history and unique culture on their side. The Palestinians have neither, AND according to the intl community pre-UN, the Palestine Mandate has been split into an Arab one and a Jewish one. It’s just that the Arabs rejected the latter. Despite an alternative location to reside, the Arabs ethnic cleansing and illegal annexation of Judea/Samaria in 1949 is not admissible under the geneva convention and remains a war crime. If Palestinians wanted a state, they would work harder to promote one on the land they DO have and not to erase a sovereign UN member next door.

      • Oct 5, 2017 @ 14:15 at 14:15

        State actors have to have peaceful relations with their neighbors – to wage a never ending war against another State while demanding their destruction… is a recipe for War – I say give the Pali’s their freedom and if they start a War and are defeated on the battlefield they deserve their loss of freedoms, espeically to wage War. Right now the Pali’s better hope they don’t get a State for if they do and they continue to attack Israel they will be subjectated under the jackboot of an Army who will put down the violence thus clearing the way for a new Pali political order based on mutual respect and peace.

  • Sep 30, 2017 @ 22:02 at 22:02

    The Kurds have my backing 100% Anything that upsets the status quo Islamist agenda for the region is fine by me. The Kurds have more legitimacy as a people than the phony Iraqi state which is a colonialist construct. Their people have more freedoms than Turkey which is becoming an official Islamic totalitarian State more and more by the day under dictator Erdogan. The world needs a counter force to balance out the authoritarians: Iran, Turkey and Saudi and their terror proxies in the region. the Kurds have proven themselves to be brave fighters and Israel and the USA and Europe must back them if those countries believe in freedom and democracy.

  • Oct 1, 2017 @ 0:17 at 0:17

    The timing is not bad, but Turkey, Iran and Iraq can isolate, and even crush should it become necessary, the Kurdish proto state. It’s largely established in Iraq and they would like their country back.

    The timing is not great, because forces that might be needed are almost done with the main part of their operations against ISIS.

    • Oct 1, 2017 @ 16:09 at 16:09

      You are right the timing is not right and if it was not for Iranian support IS would have overrun Erbil and other Kurdish Area. I think it would be better for Kurd to have autonomy right now instead of going for independence. Kurd are very tribal, I do no think PUK and PKK trust Barazani . I think there would be chaos if there was a united Kurdistan, PKK will probably try to be in charge and there will be infighting between different factions. I do not think the Iranian Kurd will accept PKK leadership as they are more open minded. It will be better if the Kurd stay away from Netanyahu and his gang because Israel is after conflict in the region to benefit herself. They want a barrier against Iran but can they trust Barazani, he has been with Iranian, Saddam and now Israeli. Israel is after weak neighbours so they can bully them that’s way they support Al-Nusra Al-Gaeda terrorists in Syria.

      • Oct 1, 2017 @ 17:06 at 17:06

        israel benefiting?they have now iran at the golan,and hezbollah has opened a second front,i think israel prefers the pré war situation

        • Oct 1, 2017 @ 18:53 at 18:53

          So people who lived there lived there for centuries are emigrants and people like Bibi, Begin …… and all the settler who came from Eastern Europe and all over the world have the right to occupy Palestine and call it Israel. Balfour treaty was a present from British to Zionist Roschild to go establish Israel by uprooting the Palestinian from their lands and replace them with Jews from Europe. On November 2, Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild, a prominent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weizmann, stating that: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavor to facilitate the achievement of this object, it

          So anybody who is fake is you with you lies and deception. The emigrant from Europe are Begin. Netanyahu, Sharron……………………. and 1.5 million from Russia

          • Oct 2, 2017 @ 22:11 at 22:11

            Sorry but per British records, most “Palestinians” actually arrived in the past century, mostly for work. And the UN admitted that it massively over-counted “Palestinian refugees” in 1952.

            However, now that Israel is a sovereign nation form 1948, emigres to the country shouldn’t concern you or anyone else. Just as emigres to Jordan, shouldn’t.

          • Oct 3, 2017 @ 23:56 at 23:56

            Irrespective of many other valid counter-arguments brought already, one that you are ignoring is that at least half of Jews living there at the time of the wars were Arabic speaking Mizrachim and Sefardim. That makes your argument moot even if we entertained your unsubstantiated and scientifically refuted “de- people-hooding” of Ashkenazim.
            Genetically, historically, linguistically and culturally it can be totally corroborated that Askenazim are exactly “who they claim to be”: Roman Jews + exiled/enslaved Judeans that immigrated to Frankish and later Polish and Russian lands centuries later from Rome on invitation by their respective non-Jewish rulers.

        • Oct 1, 2017 @ 18:56 at 18:56

          They should have not supported the Al-Qaeda terrorists and treated them in their hospitals.

          • Oct 2, 2017 @ 22:12 at 22:12

            They weren’t Al-Qaeda, they were Syrian-based citizen rebels. And the majority of those treated in israeli hospitals were women and children. i doubt those kids were Al-Qaeda.

  • Oct 1, 2017 @ 16:17 at 16:17

    God Himself sees the Kurds (ancient Medes) as a nation so nothing will stop God’s sovereign will

    Jeremiah 51
    Isaiah 13

    Other Scripture citations as well

  • Oct 1, 2017 @ 16:27 at 16:27

    Irak must be split in 3 countries: Shia around Basra, Sunny around Baghdad and
    Kurdistan around Mosul. It would be no problem at UN, at a time when Russia grabs
    Crimea, Donbas parts of Georgia and Moldova, and China has daring of claiming a
    whole sea.
    Isis is just a sunny movement against Shia, true it got way way out of hand, but will be
    never be suppressed in the actual set up with Irak under Shia control.

  • Oct 1, 2017 @ 18:41 at 18:41

    I hope America has a response to Iran. If hostilities break out a Western-imposed no-fly zone over northern Iraq should be reinstated.

  • Oct 3, 2017 @ 4:13 at 4:13

    I wonder if it goes deeper than that. A recent Hebrew University DNA study shows the Kurds to be the Jew’s closest mid east relatives. Also, the 10 northern tribes were exiled to the same place that the Kurds occupy now.

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