Kurds and the po­lit­i­cal bal­ance in Iraq

The per­sis­tent im­pact of pub­lic opin­ion on pub­lic pol­icy

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Saadula Aqrawi

Noth­ing seems to have changed in the new fed­eral democ­racy of Iraq: the govern­ment is ruled by the same ide­ol­ogy, the same minds, the same poli­cies. Per­son­ally, I don’t think the demo­cratic sys­tem is to blame, it’s more about the cul­tures of the Mid­dle East.

The Kurds have taken the Iraqi govern­ment to task over the po­lit­i­cal cost of ex­clud­ing Sun­nis, Kurds and other eth­nic mi­nori­ties. The Iraqi govern­ment’s mis­man­age­ment of Iraqi pol­i­tics has con­tribut­ing to the re­cent surge in vi­o­lence. The in­sur­gents be­lieve the Iraqi govern­ment is too dom­i­nated by Iran, and Bagh­dad’s mis­treat­ment of the Sun­nis and the Kurds is push­ing the for­mer to­wards ex­trem­ism. The un­wise poli­cies cur­rently be­ing pur­sued by the Iraqi Govern­ment are the same that drove Iraq to civil war over the last decade, and there is ev­ery rea­son to fear the same fate may be­fall Iraq once more.

In con­trast, the Kurds present the world with a bright new im­age of a mod­ern fed­eral democ­racy in the KRG. As stip­u­lated by the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion, Iraq will be di­vided into fed­eral re­gions that will han­dle their own do­mes­tic af­fairs while the Bagh­dad cen­tral govern­ment deals with in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. The Kurds have warned that the Iraqi govern­ment may be pulling the coun­try back to­wards civil war.

Turkey’s strate­gic re­la­tion­ship with the KRG gives Ankara ad­di­tional sway over Bagh­dad, while the rel­a­tively sta­ble re­gion serves as a buf­fer to in­su­late Turkey’s south­east­ern cor­ner against the in­sta­bil­ity be­set­ting the rest of Iraq.

Turkey must now choose ei­ther to turn its back on Bagh­dad and press ahead with its deal with the Kurds, or to sus­pend di­rect ex­ports from the re­gion un­til an agree­ment is reached be­tween the Iraqi cen­tral govern­ment and Er­bil.

Kur­dish oil will help di­ver­sify Turkey’s en­ergy sup­plies away from Rus­sia and Iran and re­duce a bal­loon­ing $60 bil­lion en­ergy bill. How­ever, the mo­tives for bet­ter ties go be­yond hy­dro­car­bons: Turkey’s in­ter­est in the KRG is driven as much by geopol­i­tics as it is by Turkey’s en­ergy needs

Ankara is also count­ing on the KRG to help it make peace with the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade war against it at a cost of more than 40,000 lives on both sides. The PKK guer­ril­las have now with­drawn from Turkey to their bases in the moun­tains of Iraqi Kur­dis­tan as part of the peace process. It is thus clear that Turkey and the Kurds need each other, and I think that sit­u­a­tion is go­ing to per­sist into the long term.

On the Kur­dish side, apart from pro­vid­ing the land­locked Kurds with an out­let to global mar­kets, Turkey is a cru­cial ally for Er­bil in a hos­tile re­gion fol­low­ing the with­drawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

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