“Iraq is obviously falling apart. And it’s obvious that the federal or central government has lost control over everything. Everything is collapsing – the army, the troops, the police.”
In an exclusive interview with CNN on Monday, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani made clear for the first time that he believes the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan should work to determine it’s own future, perhaps as an independent nation. This has long been a goal of the Kurdish people either in the abstract as in the 2000s or as a stated goal as it was when Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq.
This is a major development in the ongoing troubles in Iraq. Kurdish land has a lot of oil on it and if the Kurds were to break away from Iraq it would mean a far poorer Iraq in general. But besides the simple money issue, an independent Kurdistan is an uncomfortable idea for other nations in the region that have substantial Kurdish populations. Syria, Turkey, Iran, they all have large areas populated by mostly Kurds and these areas are, not coincidentally, located along the border of Iraqi Kurdistan. The notion that the Kurds in these areas might want to take the territory on which they live and bring it under the banner of an independent Kurdish nation is nothing to scoff at and has long been a concern for these nations.
Even more surprising than this announcement, however, was what Barzani said in regards to whether or not Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki had asked the Kurds for military help against ISIS who currently occupy huge swaths of territory in Iraq.
Amanpour asked Barzani whether Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had asked for Kurdish military support.
“The prime minister has not asked us. On the contrary, he rejected every offer to assist.”
Frankly, that strikes me as unthinkably irresponsible, if true. The Kurds are the only faction in Iraq to have held their ground against ISIS. President Barzani says that he will hold a press conference tonight at Barzani will hold a press conference in Kurdistan today, at 9 PM.