For Kirkuk Aficionados

An email yesterday triggered my continuing Kirkuk obsession. So…
Has the major fight over Kirkuk begun?
Ever since you wrote about it (was it two or three years ago?) that I’ve been waiting for the perfect storm to begin.
[Why am I still so up on this? Because, I’ve imposed a self-discipline on my vanity-punditry, restricting it to this, Centrifuges, and Unlawful Enemy Combatants.]
It is heating up, isn’t it? And, my narrow-focus speculation-intensity has by now become kind of weirdly intricate. To wit:
The closer it gets to actual annexation, the more the level of violence will rise. An anti-annexation consensus among all the other fighting forces is emerging–the non-Moktada Shiites (i.e., under the Hakim leadership) may be forced by competition to fall into line–and Maliki says the Surge is driving violence North and away from Anbar anyhow.
The referendum is scheduled constitutionally for December, and Maliki says it will go ahead. That would require a census very soon. I’d guess the opposition will make that impossible, by killing the personnel, blowing up offices, etc. Then the Kurds would probably move unilaterally.
It will go a little differently if the Kurds agree to a delay, though I don’t think they can sign on to an oil law–which determines the crucial control of the contracts on new oil–without owning Kirkuk. And they will be pressed to move, with or without a referendum (i.e., moving in a governmental structure in de facto annexation) sometime before the US withdrawals in the Winter/Spring.
A lot of the people in the US who want to “re-deploy,” mean move to Kurdistan. Because it is so peaceful, they say. But increasingly it won’t be, and it would require a politically implausible, hurried shift away from the supposedly all-important Baghdad “crackdown.”
If it occurred in the context of annexation, It would set the US squarely against all the Arabs in Iraq–which is not that different from the long-term alliance advanced by Iraq Study Group gurus, but it is supposed to be drawn-out, Saudi-backed, below the surface and subtle.
I think Turkey will do whatever they see as necessary to prevent annexation. Weapons, commandos, (aerial?) intelligence, logistics, at least. They’ll also open a “second front” in the North. Will they come in with the heavy infantry and fighter planes? Maybe I promised too much. We’ll find out.
It matters how heavy the Kurdish weaponry will be. What shape will Kurdish “counter-terror” repression begin to take? It is likely to be in a form that will set off both mainstream Arabs and Turkey. And any large-scale killings of Turkmen will put Turkish politics into a volatile frenzy, especially the still quasi-ruling military, whose controlling role in Turkish politics is currently up for grabs, with elections impending.
Stay tuned.



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