10 years, 6 months ago
Iraq today is a land of many small wars, each with different goals, participants and dangers. Bill Roggio is commenting on the multiple counterinsurgency operations currently taking place, in Kirkuk, Diyala and Diwaniyah. The nature of these operations (COIN) and the widespread geography of these (and other recent actions) demonstrate the problematic nature of the conflict today in Iraq. Also at The Fourth Rail, it was pointed out that al Sadr had sent two companies of the Madhi army into Kirkuk over the spring.
This was not a random action by al Sadr; there is a reason that his forces are located near or in the Kurdish north. Iran has trained as many as 40,000 Iraqis in order to prevent an unlikely rollback of Shiite control, and is likely pulling the strings to effect the policy that is most beneficial to their interests in regional control. Shiite control is also related to control over oil and refinery infrastructure. Kurdish leaders have made it clear that they will not relent on their demands to reverse Saddam’s Arabization of the Kirkuk oil fields, which accounted for the bulk of exports before the 2003 invasion. “We always said we would make no concessions on … the Kurdish identity of Kirkuk,” said leading Kurdish politician Massoud Barzani.
It is likely that al Sadr’s forces (and other factions in Iraq) are positioning for negotiations and decisions that might be determinative for the future of Iraq, namely, the division of Iraq into three autonomous regions: Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni. In a strategically timed trip to the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice has put political pressure on the Kurds to share the wealth associated with a Kurdish Kirkuk.
Rice visited the region’s powerful president, Massoud Barzani, less than two weeks after the regional government threatened to break away from Iraq in a dispute over oil.
Barzani told reporters after meeting with Rice that Kurdistan, “like any other nation, has the right to self-determination.