By Walid M. Sadi
Judging by the recent events and developments on the Iraqi Kurdish front, it appears that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), under the leadership of Massoud Barzani, may have a bit more than it could chew after having lost the prize city of Kirkuk to the fast-advancing Iraqi army last weekend.
After conducting the referendum of secession of the Kurdish area from Iraq, on Sept. 25, in which some 90 percent of the pollsters voted in favor, the KRG boasted, rather prematurely, that it was only a matter of time before the Kurdish dream of having an independent state would materialize.
The fast collapse of Kurdish defenses of Kirkuk and adjoining territories, that contain major oilfields, in the face of the Iraqi army, suggests that there might have been a missing link in the chain of command among Kurdish forces or, worse still, some kind of rebellion within the Kurdish forces.
In the wake of the capture of Kirkuk, some voices even suggested that a mutiny of sorts among the defending Kurdish forces had taken place, and attributed it to the deep division in the Kurdish political establishment between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party, under Barzani, which seeks a break with Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which seeks accommodation with Baghdad.
That, they say, may have had a lot to do with the quick surrender of Kirkuk.
- Some 100,000 Kurds Flee Kirkuk Since Iraqi Army Takeover
- Kurds Face Humanitarian Crisis with 170,000 Displaced
Whatever the explanations or reasons behind the collapse of the Kurdish defense around Kirkuk, it is obvious that Barzani resorted to the referendum without having secured first the Kurdish unity.
If the Kurds themselves are divided on their relationship with Baghdad and on an independent state, the referendum cannot be expected to have any effect.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abbadi, who masterfully faced the Kurdish challenge, has already described the referendum of Sept. 25 as something of the past.
Its future clearly depends on negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad.
The KRG does not have regional or international friends and allies, with the exception, perhaps, of Israel, and that could have a negative effect. KRG’s best bet now is to cut its losses and perhaps aim for the status quo ante.
Yet, with the reported eruption of violence in and around Kirkuk and the exodus of about 100,000 Kurds from this city, it seems that the last chapter about the KRG bid for separation has yet to be written.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba. This article has been adapted from its original source.
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