View from Turkey: Time for cautious optimism on Iraq

 

Information from Irbil shows that there is a growing pessimism and an atmosphere of dejection especially among the Barzani administration people. This is only normal because they embarked on a mission impossible by insisting on holding a referendum for independence which was not only illegal but rejected by the whole world and especially by the central government in Baghdad.

The Kurds of Iraq have lost badly in all the “disputed territories” and their forces have been seriously humiliated with the Iraqi army taking over all these areas with no fight. Masoud Barzani is at a total loss, he has gambled “to fulfill his childhood dream” and has ended up losing all the gains the Kurds made in Iraq in the past two decades.

The 2004 constitution of Iraq created a federal Kurdish zone in the north of the country that enveloped the provinces of Dohuk, Irbil and Sulaymaniyah. In fact, the Kurds were granted some form of autonomy to run their regions but the Kurdish leadership used this to enhance their powers and behave as if they were running an independent state. So much so that they drafted their own oil bill before Baghdad even legislated the federal oil laws of Iraq. Irbil hosted a so-called parliament which in essence became redundant and could not function since 2015 because of political bickering among Kurds. Now the Kurds see that they do not have their own state and the areas where they live in are actually Iraqi territory.

Kurds also see that the de facto situation they created in Kirkuk by importing population to the city, creating Kurdish neighborhoods and taking over the local administration has collapsed. So, all this means Iraq can gradually claim sovereignty over the whole of Iraq which also puts serious political responsibilities upon the leaders of Baghdad.

Baghdad has to live up to the expectations of the Turkmens as much as the expectations of the Kurds,

and Baghdad has to accommodate the Sunni Arabs. If this requires the rewriting of the Iraqi constitution, so be it.

If this is not done Baghdad will have a tough job preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq and preserving unity and solidarity among the people of Iraq.

Today the Kurds are humiliated and feel badly beaten. This is the time to extend a friendly hand to the Kurdish people of Iraq and help the people of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah stand tall and play with their dignity.

The Kurds of Iraq should be allowed to get their act together, face the realities and be allowed to be a part of Iraq while they rule their cities. This also means Turkey should help the Kurds of Iraq to end their disarray

and help to create a new Iraq.

Iraq should also recognize the rights and needs of the Turkmens who have been neglected for too long. The Turkmens have been pushed around and exploited by the Kurds as well as the Arabs. The Baghdad administration should help to restore the rights of the Turkmens who were practically regarded as a nonentity when Iraq’s constitution was drafted.

No one can deny the Iranian influence over the Baghdad government, yet we feel the latest developments in Iraq should not lead to hurting Turkey’s vital interests in the region.

SOURCE:   https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/ilnur-cevik/2017/10/18/time-for-cautious-optimism-on-iraq

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