Kurds at the Crossroads

The KRG must decide to help unify Iraq or go to war with Iraq.

On 29 JAN 17 NEC-SC predicted that the government of Iraq would ban U.S. citizens from entering that country in retaliation to Washington’s 28 JAN visa ban against Iran and six other majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Yesterday that prediction was born out with Iraq announcing the implementation of a travel ban against U.S. citizens.

In that 29 JAN post we noted that this action by the Shia-dominated government of Iraq further signaled its political subservience to Iran, which is calling the shots for both countries as part of its quest to become the Middle East’s regional hegemon.

We also noted that the KRG would soon follow suit and possibly implement its own travel ban against U.S. citizens. We observed that the Kurds would feel compelled to do so, even though they are Sunni Muslims, because Iran has declared that the U.S. ban is an “insult” not only to their national honor but also to Islam. The Kurds, we said, cannot be seen to oppose Iran on this issue, because their Muslim brethren would interpret their opposition as both a betrayal and an unpardonable offense against their religion.

What’s more, refusal to implement a ban would put the Kurds at odds with the federal government in Baghdad, which has nominal authority over the KRG. This could constitute a de facto declaration of war by the KRG against Iraq, and would likely result in a conflict that might prove ruinous to the Kurds’ aspirations for statehood.

Events are moving swiftly in the Middle East, and we expect the KRG to either announce a travel ban or declare independent from Iraq.

The Kurds find themselves at an historical crossroads, and on the eve of the KRG meeting with Iraqi leadership to negotiate their possible independence, the KRG can not afford to go to the table bucking against Iraq and Iran’s decision in the region.

Regardless of the course they choose to take, their actions are sure to add fuel to the fires of conflict already burning in the region.  Iran’s recent testing of a ballistic missile, in violation of a U.N. resolution, may well cause those fires to explode into a wider conflagration. A general Middle Eastern war may be in the offing.


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Categories: Governance, Security

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