Dismemberment of Iraq gives Kurds hope of independence
at CBCnews | World www.cbc.ca/news/world/
|The Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been able to keep ISIS at bay while Iraqi forces melted away in the face of the militant group's advance (Margaret Evans/CBC)|
It would be an understatement to call it bad timing for Iraq's beleaguered Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be on the outs with the Kurds given they control the only truly cohesive fighting force in Iraq, the renowned Peshmerga.
At first glance, there would seem to be little incentive for the Kurds to prop up a central government under al-Maliki's control.
The chaos in Iraq and the potential for its dismemberment has opened up a crack through which the Kurds can clearly see their long cherished dream glistening in the distance -- that of an independent Kurdistan.
Said Gareth Stansfield, a professor of Middle East politics at England's University of Exeter, "The Kurdish leaders... (are) being very quiet and they're waiting for everything to fall around them."
Kirkuk is key to the notion of Kurdish independence. The city would give the Kurds the economic independence that they need to pursue their own course.
Last year, Kurdish and Iraqi government troops came close to open clashes after Baghdad moved a special army unit up to Kirkuk. But that unit is no more. Its commanders and soldiers simply melted away two weeks ago like other Iraqi troops in the north when faced with the potential threat of the group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) coming their way.
The Kurds, would-be claimants to the throne of Kirkuk, simply slipped in and took over their abandoned positions.
Kurdish troops have also moved in to other mixed or disputed cities in Iraq proper since the advance of ISIS. The Kurds have taken advantage of the chaos in the rest of the country to expand their borders.
Said Stansfield, "If ISIS and [its allies] are successful (the Kurds) will be facing an enemy that will turn its attentions north very quickly."
"We often hear how good the Kurdistan army is, that they're willing to defend Kurdistan to the death," said Stansfield. "But we haven't seen them fully deployed. We haven't seen them face an opponent as brutal, as well organized, as well funded as ISIS and their (allies) that we see here."
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Now we see the battle lines drawing between the "kings of the Medes" -- the leadership of the modern day Kurds -- and a re-constituted and extremely militant Iraq -- the land of the Chaldeans, the Babylon of Jeremiah's prophecy:
"Behold, I am going to arouse and bring up against Babylon a horde of great nations from the land of the north, and they will draw up their battle lines against her; from there she will be taken captive... Chaldea will become plunder... Because you are glad, because you are jubilant, O you who pillage my heritage, because you skip about like a threshing heifer and neigh like stallions, your mother will be greatly ashamed, she who gave you birth will be humiliated. Behold, she will be the least of the nations, a wilderness, a parched land and a desert..." Jer 50:9-12