Of all of the things to catch up with in the political cosmos, I’m going to be bringing my blog back to life with a spirited discussion about the Kurds.
“Why the Kurds?” you ask. Because, out of the entire deck making up the house of cards of global politics, the Kurds are the card that could send the whole thing crashing down. Not the situation in Afghanistan; that’s a sticky wicket we won’t be batting out of soon. Not the turbulence of retrenching rogue states like North Korea and the Russian Commonwealth; those bad boys can be bought off or it’ll come to blows way down the line. Not even the global economic crisis – on that point, I assure you we’re heading south in the months to come, and the best we can hope for is a parachute.
But the Kurds could topple the whole mess even faster. They are the weakest link. And while everything else is sliding down, it is the Kurds who can pitch us over the edge in the months to come.
The reason why, is because the Kurds have long been the red-headed step child of the Gulf region. Allies against Saddam by virtue of necessity, they went back to doctrine-based in-fighting as soon as the statue fell in Baghdad. They have since resisted any form of democratic control – from the Iraqi capitol or from the possibility of local parliaments. Now that elections have taken place, the Kurds stand to be as marginalized a party in politics as they were ethnically.
This leaves them ready, willing and able to do what they’re used to – take up arms and seize back their scrap of land from the Iraqi state, our ostensible ally. Things could turn into a shooting war very soon.
So what? Well, it wouldn’t just be an internal conflict. Iraq isn’t the only nation that the Kurds seek to draw into a firefight. The Kurdish claim to space extends over two other states the USA definitely doesn’t want caught in this tug of war – one because it’s an ally; the other because it’s as close to a sworn enemy as America gets these days: Turkey and Iran.
Israel may be the US media sweetheart of the Middle East, but it’s Turkey that bends whenever the US asks an ally in the region to grab ankles. Though we couldn’t sign them up for full access rights when the Coalition of the Willing was preparing to tangle with Saddam, Turkey allows us everything from military bases to political crackdowns. The few lines in the sand they draw and mean it involve their dealings with ethic minorities inside their borders – most significantly, these days, the Kurds who’re trading bullets and bombs with them over the southeast end of their country.
Iran is also locked in skirmishes with Kurds from time to time. And Iran would be none too keen on having to grapple with the USA – or a US ally – in the Kurdish-run regions of its state.
The likelihood goes grim, and it goes like this: The Kurds resist the Iraqi capitol. The Iraqis respond with military force. In order to do so, they need to attack into Iran and Turkey. Iran and Turkey mobilize in kind.
The result is a super-sized Charlie-Foxtrot in a state where the US was just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It means having to talk at the same table with Turkey and Iran. It means a possibility of permanent instability in Iraq’s north.
So, no, it doesn’t mean you’ll be bankrupt. It doesn’t mean global nuclear warfare. But it does mean that yet another flashpoint could flare up in a big way, at a time when the US desperately needs a way out.