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Is Kurdistan the next Kosovo?

Pepe Escobar: The Kurds will look to Kosovo as precedent for independence (3 of 3)

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PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: Lots of people all over the world, in different parts of the world, are asking themselves, “Okay, if Kosovo can do it, why not us?” People in Kurdistan especially start asking themselves, “Okay, so why we cannot do it as well?” It’s not very simple. In fact, it’s very, very complicated. In Kurdistan, the thing revolves around the Kirkuk oil wells and its pipelines that go through Turkey and maybe one day might go through Israel. The Iraqi Kurds are very good at betraying themselves and selling themselves short, in fact. Their two key Iraqi Kurd leaders, Massoud Barzani, who’s the president of the Kurdistan regional government, and Jalal Talabani, which is the president in Iraq of Iraq. He sits in Baghdad. Barzani sits in Irbil in northern Iraq, in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks, their ultimate nightmare is an independent or autonomous or semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan, and that’s the dream of every Iraqi Kurd that you talk to. Everybody knows that. And the Iraqi Kurds who are sitting at the government in Baghdad, the same thing. And that’s why Sunni and Shiites are desperate when they have to deal directly with Iraqi Kurds, because they know that ultimately they don’t care about an Iraqi state or about what Baghdad is doing. They want, basically, independence. The 12 million Kurds who live in Turkey are watching this ongoing process with extreme interest, because if that would eventually happen, they would start making their moves in Turkish Kurdistan to do the same thing, or at least cross the border and unite with their independent cousins on the other side of the Turkish-Iraqi border. So it is in this context that we have to understand the Kurds’ de facto invasion by 10,000 Turkish troops, supported by US intelligence for that matter, invading Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks now have to give messages to three different constituencies. To the Iraqi Kurds they’re saying, “Look, don’t even try of pushing towards autonomy, and don’t even try to incorporate Kirkuk via referendum into Iraqi Kurdistan and benefit from Kirkuk’s oil wells. We can invade you any time you want.” So, in fact, the official excuse, that it is to root out the PKK guerrillas nested in Iraqi Kurdistan does not apply, especially because most of these 3,500-4,000 PKK guerrillas, they are nested in mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan that nobody can practically reach. They have already retreated, and some of them even moved to the Iranian-Iraqi border—they’re not near the Turkish-Iraqi border anymore, and since the beginning of winter, for that matter, because they were expecting a Turkish invasion, not in winter, but during spring. The Turks think they are being very, very clever, because they anticipated their invasion. They are doing it now, in winter. The other message that the Turks are sending is towards Washington: “Look, don’t trample on us, don’t underestimate us, because we are able to destabilize the only part of Iraq that is relatively stable, which is Iraqi Kurdistan.” And to the rest of the players in the Middle East and in central Asia, Turkey is saying, “Look, we are a major player. We are not like Serbia. We are much more powerful. We are a NATO ally, for that matter. We have NATO troops. And we can do what we want in the area. If NATO is in Afghanistan, why not us in Iraqi Kurdistan?” So these messages are being heard all over the area, from the arc going from the Middle East to central Asia. And on top of that the Turks, their energy interests, they’re not going to be necessarily aligned with the Americans anymore. They are about to strike a huge oil deal with Russia, and they’re going to co-exploit Caspian oil with the Iranians in the Iranian part of the Caspian. So the winners in this whole story are the Turks. So this has nothing to do with Serbia vis-à-vis Kosovo. But blowback is going to happen sooner rather than later. There’s going to be localized blowback in the Balkans, but also vis-à-vis the US later on, because the Iraqi Kurds more or less now know that they were sold short once again by the Americans. So their dream in their own hearts and minds, it’s still alive. They will definitely do anything they can to sooner or later try to become a new, independent Kosovo in Kurdistan.

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