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An Independent Kurdistan? Not if the US Can Help It PDF Print

By: Emre Uslu 5.1.2012 posted on Almonitor

The deepening crisis in Iraq, ambiguities in the Syria-Iran-PKK equation, and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s remarks after his visits to Ankara and Washington have rekindled an old debate in Turkey: Are Iraqi Kurds about to declare independence?

Barzani recently said that if problems with the Baghdad administration are not resolved by September, he would call in the Kurds to vote in a referendum and choose where they want to live. Some journalistic assessments stipulate that Barzani could actually set up an independent state. However, I think he is bluffing. He is so irrational, and trying to create a Kurdish state under the current circumstances would be madness, especially when the biggest obstacle to an independent Kurdistan is the United States. Washington has been advising him to work with the central government and Barzani hints that he is not really delighted with that advice.

There are several reasons why an independent Kurdistan is ill-advised for the US.

First, the US will have to intervene in what will inevitably be a new crisis, just as it is trying to get out of Afghanistan. Americans have no intention to intervene. The US is reshaping its operational presence in the Middle East in accordance with “offshore balancing,” as we saw in Libya. It is extremely costly for the US to intervene in crises with ground troops. It does not want another crisis in Iraq that may require American troops on the ground.

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