Everyone is focussing on Kurdistan

DEBKAfile’s Iraq sources

Iraq is in the process of breaking up into three autonomous or independent entities: Shiite Muslim in the south – under Tehran’s aegis; Sunni Arab in the center and west, backed and massively funded by Riyadh; and a Kurdish entity in the north, under US patronage and a magnet for heavy American, Turkish, Israeli and, more recently, Iranian investment.

According to our military sources in Iraq, the objectives of the current US military effort go beyond securing central government in Baghdad and stemming sectarian hostilities; the troops are engaged in an all-out drive to prevent the rise of a fourth entity ruled by al-Qaeda in the western Anbar province.

If and when that battle is won, the next will be fought over control of Iraq’s oil wealth. The distribution of oil revenues will have to be built into any live-and-let-live accommodations among the autonomous entities; to work, any such an arrangement must be guaranteed by US, Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni military forces.

Kurdistan is the exemplar or prototype of the nationwide process, with impact also on Iraq’s neighbors.

This northern region is in an advanced development boom – buildings, roads, bridges, air fields and hotels are springing up with Turkish contractors leading the way. These firms have a vested interested in keeping the Turkish army from attacking rebel Kurdish PKK bases in northern Iraq. Indeed, the big Turkish commercial investment in the Iraqi Kurdish construction program has divided Ankara. The army wants to seize a slice of territory in the north as a bridgehead for striking at the rebel bases. Prime minister Tayyep Erdogan has other fish to fry in Iraq: he favors a Turkish military grab for a foothold in the oil town of Kirkuk as a bargaining chip for a cut in the region’s oil riches.

Tehran to the east and Syria to the west are also eyeing the dynamic developments in Kurdistan for a chance of profit.

The Iranians are wooing the Kurdish state’s president Masoud Barzani, hoping to win him by the prospect of large-scale investments.

On the other hand, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reveal that, just as the Americans have rehabilitated the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin al-Khalq for operations inside Iran, so too Iran has resuscitated the radical Ansar al-Islam terrorist group, al Qaeda’s arm in northern Iraq before the 2003 US invasion. This group is being primed to be Iran’s “operational” arm in Kurdistan.

Damascus for the time being is concentrating military strength on the Syrian-Kurdistan border, mainly to cut off the PKK rebel route to Turkey, and watching the situation.

None of these happenings featured on the agenda of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference.

May 10, 2007 | Comments Off on Everyone is focussing on Kurdistan

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest