Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kurds infiltrate Iraqi army

The Kurdish Peshmurga militia has infiltrated 10,000 members into the Iraqi army who are prepared to kill their commanders and take the city of Kirkuk according to Knight Ridder news source.
The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.

"It doesn't matter if we have to fight the Arabs in our own battalion," said Gabriel Mohammed, a Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi army who was escorting a Knight Ridder reporter through Kirkuk. "Kirkuk will be ours."
This has to send a chill through the stay the course crowd. Prior to the invasion the Kurds were staunch allies and this is one of the reasons that Turkey denied us the use of their territory for a drive from the north. If Iraq is to fragment there is a significant likelihood that Turkey would invade N. Iraq and touch off a regional conflict that could pull in Iran, Syria and who knows who after that.

It is clear from this story that the Kurds are plotting just such a move for independence. I have previously speculated that one of the reasons we may see such slow development of an independent Iraqi defense force is because we have no interest in training and arming the Baghdad arm of the Iranian Republican Guard. Now it appears we may have cause to worry about just such a concern from our Kurdish allies as well.

Staying the course in Iraq means we will have to have a military force in country for decades to come, in order to forestall just this type of catastrophe. If Turkey must be brought to the table to accept an independent Kurdistan on it's southern frontier we by default accept the fragmentation of Iraq. To forestall that fragmentation we will have to be the military force that keeps Iraq glued together until we know for a certaintude that the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites truly have no ambitions that would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq and resulting calamity.

So stay the course actually means a long term commitment to hold Iraq together. At some point the "sovereign government of Iraq", responding to public pressure is going to ask us to pack up and go home. What then? If we stay after that we pass from Iraqi democracy installation fix it man to blatant imperialist ruler.

Not to mention that such a goal throws us into conflict with the longheld Kurdish dream of independence. (Which case I might add I believe they can make a very good case for, if we can stop the region from turning into a meatgrinder with Turkey.) We now face a simmering insurrection by a Sunni minority. If the Kurds throw their lot behind an insurrection to gain independence what we now face will be the halcion days of stability in post invasion Iraq. Believe it or not, there could come a future generation that will look back on the sickness that was the Saddam Hussien tyranny, and think how nice we had it. All we did was contain him and let him keep these factions controlled under his iron fist.

One final point. Is there any worse a place one could think of in which to force a democratic experiment? Iraq is a relic creation of an imperialist power that has no natural rhyme or reason for cohesion without an overbearing military presence. I am convinced long after you and I are dead and gone, and the (possibly irradiated) dust has settled after the region is pacified, that Iraq as we currently understand it will only exist on outdated maps. So if the Bushovichs wanted to export democracy to the region, why not start with a place that is inherently homogeneous, where the citizens all have a unified sense of nationalism. I think the whole democratic experiment via military force is wrongheaded as it is. In fact if the president had made that case in 2003 rather than ginning up the WMD evidence I have no doubt he would never have received the necessary support to carry forth the plan now termed "stay the course". But if one is going to carry forth with the experiment, for goodness sakes do it somewhere that is not going to fall apart once the democracy has taken hold and we can bring our troops home.

I'm concerned but, not worried. The sects in Iraq are only being prudent in preparing for a splitting of Iraq. Hey, its possible if the US leaves and puts Iraq on "Ignore". All three groups need assurance from the US that this will not happen.

In the best case, most troops will be removed with the exception of strike forces based away from large populations. A "dead zone" should be established around the perimeter of the bases. If you are not in an expected US convoy and you enter the zone, you're dead. No questions asked. The troops would likely be headquartered at a dual purpose base for the US Air Force. A Naval Carrier group should also be always nearby. In this instance ANY uprising would be put down. Oil should be mandated to benefit all three groups and Kurds should be able to return to Kirkuk but, only as citizens living alongside arabs. The oil industry, defense, etc. could benefit all three regions while still having some cultural and legal differences. Think North and South after our Civil War. How long have some southerners claimed that the "South will rise again"? You can still find a few today.

If a complete withdrawal is mandated by the Iraqi government, it would not prevent a naval presence in international water or a base in other nearby nations. We could put down any occupation of Kirkuk by Kurds, Shia, or Sunni on any given weekend. As long as we blow them out and don't engage in occupation again, we'll win the day with little or no US casulties.
Ironically, if the the future greater Kurdistan can do two things quickly, they might prove to be more stable than an integrated Iraq. First, they've got to secure the border with Sunni Iraq, and second, they need to forcibly put down any militias that would try to take revenge on the Sunni minority.

Unfortunately, considering how things are going between the Shiites and Sunnis, I think that that scenario is unlikely.
Of course the Kurdish will fight if required for what is theirs. Why would they not? Iraq has not exactly been hospitable to them. If the US had not enforced a no-fly zone for the Kurds, it is hard to imagine how many would be dead now. Kurds have said they are willing to be a part of a greater Iraq as long as they have a certain degree of autonomy with the freedom to be who they are, speak the language they are comfortable with, and practice their own traditions. They are not an Arab people and do not wish to be so identified. But they have not 'infiltrated' anything. This article seems to me to be whipping up unnecessary and inciteful passions, whether the author believed them to be true, matters not at all. It sounds like 'rumour-mongering' to me!
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