Saturday, December 19, 2009

Growing Power of Iraqi Kurdistan Could Backfire on Tehran

Iran's strategy to break Iraq into three component territories, and to dominate those territories in order to reduce regional opposition and to gain unfettered access to Syria and the Mediterranean as a result of the Western invasion of Iraq in 2004, has had profound success. The country is now, at best, a federation, with elements of a slide toward confederacy or even the breaking away of some territory. Iran dominates, and will increasingly dominate, the Shi'a controlled central heartland and the Government of Iraq, particularly when US and Coalition forces depart. Iraq's northern, and predominantly Kurdish, region is now virtually an independent state. It is certainly an autonomous state.

And yet the solution which Tehran sought, the break-up of Iraq, may hold more problems for it than a unified Iraq, as the modern Iraqi state was created under British tutelage in 1922. Indeed, the Kurds, who had been financially swayed by both Baghdad and Tehran for decades, may feel sufficient strength that the foundations of a sovereign state can be laid. That sovereign state would, as the Iraqi Kurds have made clear — have aspirations on territory inside Iran, in Syria, and, significantly, Turkey (and possibly Azerbaijan and Armenia). In that respect, the Turkish-Iranian-Syrian rapprochement could not have come at a more propitious time. This reality, too, fuels the momentum in Ankara toward phasing out its strategic relationship with Israel. A Turkey-Armenia-Iran arrangement would help curtail Kurdish dreams of unity (even though the Kurdish tribes have historically been anything but trusting of each other, in many respects). And, fueling Ankara's concerns has been the heavy Israeli commercial involvement in the.....Read the entire article.

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