Friday, 14 August 2015

Why Obama Has No Complete Strategy on ISIS: The Threat of Kurdish Secession and the Break Up of Iraq.

“Today, the United States began flying manned counter-Isil missions from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Strikes were conducted”-Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith
The use of the name ISIL instead of ISIS by US and British leaders reflects the contradictions at the core of Western strategy when taking on ISIS. Obama claimed at the start of the war in September 2014 that he had no strategy, a position he reaffirmed at the start of August 2015, but there are set interests.
The first is in not recognising Assad down in Damascus or even the idea ISIS in actually in a state known still to the world as Syria. The Levant is an old name for the region first coined in 1497 “where the sun rises” referring the "Mediterranean lands east of Italy" where Europe and the Orient meet.
It was also a geographical term and idea connected with the Ottoman Empire. As Erdogan in Turkey is intent of reviving it in some shape or form, the name ISIL acknowledges the threat to the Eastern Mediterranean region and points to the global and regional power contest being fought energy routes.
Apart from sounding more dastardly for public diplomacy purposes ( it rhymes with 'Evil), the name ISIL pointedly ignores Syria as a state and to the fact that defeating ISIS in Syria is not actually the most important aim. The US wants to 'degrade' ISIS first while building up the 'moderate' rebels again.
The US has no intention of alienating Saudi Arabia or Qatar over Syria as it provided most of the finance for Sunni jihadists in their proxy war against Iran over potential gas pipelines that would connect with the Eastern Mediterranean coast. For Iran and Russia, Assad is vital to their plans to control gas supplies to Europe.
Turkey was far more concerned with the Kurdish PKK than with ISIS which is why it refused to allow its base at Incirlik to be used until it struck a deal that would have Turkey enter to attack the radical Kurdish militias. Erdogan regards the YPG as a threat as its victories against Sunni Arab jihadists drew pressure from Assad.
Ankara has wanted to degrade the PKK militias and so the YPG so the Kurds would be in no position of having stable autonomy within Syria as they are in Iraq. Not only would that increase demands for it within south-eastern Turkey, it would defeat Erdogan's neo-Ottoman designs.
The ambition of linking up the KRG's oil via the Kirkuk-Ceylan pipeline and drawing it closer to Turkey would enhance Turkey's status as the prime east-west gas hub drawing in oil from Central Asia and Iran. Doing so without increasing the chances of Kurdish secessionist demands in Turkey is still risky.
For a start, the Kurds had a civil war in the 1990s and if the Syrian Kurds end up being killed or unable to be protected after Turkey bombing the PKK then that would make Barzani appear as though sacrificing the Kurds for oil deals. One aspect of the US nuclear deal is in drawing Iran in to shore up Iraq.
Turkey aims at helping to create a small independent Kurdistan via Barzani's KDP as an oil enclave dependent upon it as a vassal state while destroying hopes for a Greater Kurdistan. Iran, which backs PUK, wants Shi'ite regions of Iraq and the KRG to remain together and provide more autonomy for Sunni Arabs.
PUK and the PKK were aligned during the civil war. PUK has a stronghold in Kirkuk and has faced the brunt of ISIS attacks so PUK suspected that it is shouldering the burden while Turkey and the KDP were intent on reaping the rewards of being soft on ISIS. The PKK would pose a renewed threat to Kurdish-Iraq pipelines.
The US hopes its air offensive against ISIS will compensate for Turkey weakening the YPG in Syria but it is a huge gamble. The original air war was launched less to save Yazidis and Kurds than to protect Kurdish oil producing regions and the central and southern regions, areas vital for keeping global oil prices low
The US wants to keep Iraq together. Kurdish secession would leave Iraq as a Sunni-Shi'ite Arab state with the Sunnis with little oil compared with the Shi'ites. Having brought in Iran to shore up Iraq against ISIS, Kurdish independence would mean Saudi Arabia faced a wholly Shia dominated Iraq to the north.
So Kurdish independence would help provide a substantial opportunity to provoke the Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and that would destabilise not only Iraqi energy resources, but also Saudi energy resources as well and cause an oil price spike that could cause global economic chaos.

No comments:

Post a Comment