Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another approach to reclaim Kirkuk, disputed areas back - By Baqi Barzani

Since the toppling of monarchy through a military coup led by Abdul Karim Qassim on 14th July 1958, Iraq was ruled for more than four decades by succeeding militaristic regimes.

Most of the world nations came into existence through some sort of partitions, military coups, civil unrests, wars, involuntary dissolutions, revolutions or peaceful protestations.

The ultimate goal of any one of these events from the Egyptian revolution of 1952 to the military coup in Portugal in 1974, to Iran’s Islamic ideological revolution in 1979, to African wars versus racial inequality and colonialism, to Pakistani military coup of 1999 against widespread government corruption, to Venezuelan’s coup attempt of 2002 against burgeoning foreign meddling, and many other similar momentous historical developments were primarily purported to achieve the sole objective of national independence of the nation states, or oust an intolerable form of regime and substitute with discrete one.

Almost in most cases, nothing could be achieved free of offering concessions and some scale of sacrifices. Indisputably, if today’s global dilemmas and discrepancies could all be simply unraveled through peace and dialogue; we would not be subsisting in a world rife with wars, violence and injustice. Unfortunately, in regard to the unhinged Middle East, the formulas of Indian Indira Gandhi, or South African Nelson Mandela, remain indecisive to usher in peace to the region.

The state of Israel confronted strong opposition at the outset of announcing its independence in 1948. Albeit, some states signed peace treaties and hold direct relations, Israel continues to face perils from extremist ideologies threatening its security. Israel represents only one-thousandth of the world's population and has the 16th highest per capita income in the world. Despite of this fact, Israel has been able to transform herself into a regional superpower whose seamless democracy, flourishing economy and one of the mightiest military in the world is truly laudable. Numerous parallel examples abound, so why not Kurdistan?

Why proposing a military coup? Diplomatic efforts, democratic solutions and peaceful initiatives have all been pursued, but regretfully, failed to produce any tangible fruits in case of Kurdish struggle, especially in regards to determining the status of Kurdish Kirkuk governorate and the disputed areas. Sometimes words and diplomacy just don’t work.

What are the Pros and Cons? Staging a military coup d’état against the central Baghdad government for a brief stint of time, not the Kurdish regional administration in any form, let me reiterate, not against the KRG in any form, only confined to Kirkuk and the disputed areas, is an option that need to be mulled over by our military establishment.

A military coup in Iraqi Kurdistan will help secure the following objectives: 1) facilitate incorporating Kirkuk and the disputed regions back into KRG 2) provide the crucial economic foundation for promulgating an independent Kurdish state in future 3) Pave the way for democratization and liberation of other parts of Kurdistan.

The first point bears the highest substance compared to the rest. What is the raison d'être? Getting Kirkuk back at any cost is part and parcel to our national security. Kirkuk is about reclaiming our Kurdish identity, but let’s not underestimate the value and role of oil in the 21st century. It is the accession to oil and energy market that will persuade western powers to debunk interest in investing in Kurdistan, and ultimately willy-nilly assure our protection for the sake of their own economic interests. Every U.S. policy shift, every military intervention, every CIA plot has been carried out to secure one main goal: to ensure the cheap and plentiful flow of the world's most vital energy resource—oil. It was the Kuwaiti oil that tempted Dictator Saddam Hussain of Iraq to launch an invasion and prompted instant US intervention. It is the events like the 1973 oil crisis, and foreign dependency on Arab Gulf oil that continues to impose the will of Arab leaders on mighty imperialist powers. It is the burgeoning trade revenues between KRG and its adjacent neighboring states, amounting in billions that has culminated in the recognition of Kurdish Regional administration, and toning down of hostile rhetoric by hostile states against our nation. It is the power of oil forging strong ties with the world super powers like the USA, enabling us to be respected as Shah of Iran, or being treated like Saudi Arabia receiving billion-dollar deal in military hardware sale to strengthen our military capability. It is because of the oil that a country like Bahrain with only 750 Kilometer in area and estimated 800,000 in population becomes a sovereign nation. It is the oil that can feed the 40 million stateless Kurds, and it is the very same oil that can……

A military coup in Iraqi Kurdistan will categorically ensue various drawbacks and reactions, entailing: Increasing antagonism by Sunni-Shiite religious extremists groups, enmity by Pan Arab nationalist movements across the Arab globe, a likely invasion by hostile neighboring states if given consent by the US, a united trio front by Iran-Turkey-Syria against KRG, which is already in effect, immense threat from Iraqi Army and security forces, and eventually US disapproval of the move, and consequently diminishing empathy for Kurdish cause around the world.

In reference to the threat emanating from the above-cited sources and how to cope with them:

1) Islamic extremist terrorist groups: Fortunately, such groups are almost lifeless or completely powerless in Iraq. Their financial resources have been cut off and their activities curtailed by counter-insurgency operations.

2) Menace from influential Shiite parties :At present, major political parties in Iraq., including Nouri al-Maliki Islamic Dawa, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and Ayad Allawi’s Iraqi National List are mainly compromised of members belonging to Islamic sect of Shiitism that strongly espouse decentralization of Iraq, and autonomy for Shiite population in South. Seeing Kurds resorting to a coup would encourage them to pursue the same agenda and detach from the loose central government. However, there are trivial Arab nationalist elements among the above-mentioned parties who tout Iraq unity, but in actuality, they bear more tendencies toward preserving their sectarian solidity.

3) Threat from Sunni political and religious groups: Marginal Arab Sunnis only constitute roughly 15% of the entire Iraqi population. About a quarter of them are militarily and politically active in the stage. Without obtaining external tutelage and US empowerment, political parties such as: Iraqi Islamic Party, the Association of Muslim Scholars, and Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front can not resist the well-off and militarily-mighty Kurdish army in the North. They are mostly concentrated in the center, and with the numerically superior Shiite in South and Iranian influence, it is extremely intricate for them to be able to receive any sort of backing from Sunni states like Saudi, Jordan, Egypt.

4) The next menace comes from Iraqi alarming military. According to some authentic estimates by Iraqi ministry of defense, the figure of service members only in Iraqi Army exceeds two hundred thousand. Another three hundred thousand serve in other military, police and security branches. The ratio of comparison to Kurdish Peshmarga forces is one to five. Most of the members are loyal to their religious and political parties instead of the state. The army holds in its possession some highly-sophisticated US-supplied weaponry. Though, immense in size and might, it is completely disheveled and functions reclusively and ineffectively, lacking a coordinated central command. Again, most of the service members compromise of Shiites who are more faithful to their religious conviction than the concept of state unity.

Iraqi Kurdistan has climaxed a level to be competent to guard itself against internal perils. Our main threats derive from the formidable neighboring states. To confront them, Kurdistan must hinge on external military support. And that is where the oceans of reserve oil in Khaneqin, Kirkuk and Mousel will enter the outlook to play its part.

5) If assailed by Syria or Iran, Kurdistan can seek assistance from the big brother (Israel) to naturalize them. Israel is a staunch advocate of Kurdish independence rights. The same way the United States takes into account the security state of Israel, Israel has done the same for the Iraqi Kurds. Kurds view their freedom in North of Iraq indebted to Israeli empathy. Israel is seeking more justifications to collapse the regimes in Tehran and Damascus. Operating in Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel can set into motion an effective regime change policy with the help of Kurdish armed forces in Iranian Kurdistan. How will we reward Israel generosity instead? Establishing an official Israeli embassy in the Hawler capital city of Kurdistan + with a set of economic, military and security agreements package, including oil deals with giant Israeli oil companies.

6) Last but not least is pleasing the US administration (Uncle Sam) and being able to convince them to protect us against a feasible Turkish cross-border incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan. Anglo-American oil companies can be granted full exclusive right of oil production and exploration in Kurdistan. As long as military officers like Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser and nationalist Iranian Mohammad Mosaddeghs do not attempt to nationalize the oil, there seems to be no reasons why the US would object to annexation of Kirkuk and disputed areas into KRG through a military coup. Plus why not to convert Kurdistan in to another pre-1979 Iran? A dependable economic pillar for the US.

If the US disagrees with the implementation of the outlined plan, what is the option?
The response is merging forces with other Kurdish armed forces beyond the border lines of Iraq Kurdistan in order to overpower one of the common enemies of the Kurds.

I am not prescribing a permanent military regime, but quite on the converse. Kurdistan military is the defender of Kurdish citizen’s rights, parliament, and constitution. The main goal of such a coup is the elimination of the current corrupt, anti-Kurdish system in Bagdad, and persuading it to unreservedly adopt Kurdish territorial rights over Kirkuk and the disputed regions.

Kirkuk should be part of future Kurdish state. Our future depends on it, and it is only full accession to its oil that can guarantee its return.

Weighing up all the pros and cons, in a nutshell, a well-calculated military copy d’état is worth it.