Iraq’s Coming Civil War
By Daniel Greenfield - The Front Page Magazine
April 25, 2012
As the Obama Administration tries to hammer
together an American withdrawal from Afghanistan,
the body count from his disastrous retreat from Iraq
is swiftly rising. Last week alone there were
fourteen car bombings orchestrated by Al-Qaeda in
Iraq, whose goal has always been a civil war between
Shiites and Sunnis. The bombings, which received
only light coverage in a media unwilling to talk
about anything that might show their candidate in a
bad light, are only one of the fracture points.
A united Iraq died a few days after the withdrawal.
The only people who still believe in the fiction of
a centrally governed Iraq are holding down desks in
the State Department. There are several Iraqs now.
There is Iran’s Iraq, the one overseen by Tehran’s
puppet in Baghdad, Prime Minister Maliki. Then there
is Iraqi Kurdistan which stands on the verge of
declaring its independence, an act that will touch
off a violent territorial dispute accompanied by
Iraqi federalism is only popular among some in the
Shiite majority, for whom it means majority rule.
Maliki’s warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi
and the latter’s subsequent flight and sanctuary in
Iraqi Kurdistan has ended the fiction of joint rule
in Iraq. The Kurds have branded Maliki a dictator
and are swiftly breaking their remaining ties to
President Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan declared that,
“Power-sharing and partnership between Kurds, Sunni
and Shiite Arabs, and others is now completely
non-existent and has become meaningless” and
concluded his speech by hinting at an independence
referendum, a move almost certain to touch off a
violent conflict, particularly in oil rich Kirkuk.
For now it’s a countdown to the inevitable. Barzani
has been conducting a diplomatic tour to line up
support for the next phase. As has Tariq al-Hashemi.
Facing a Shiite majority and Maliki’s consolidation
of power, they need all the domestic and
international support that they can get. Western
troops have left leaving behind a power vacuum that
Iran is swiftly filling up.
Obama’s recent meeting with Barzani was typical of
the empty discussions that have taken place since
the withdrawal. While Obama urged Barzani to work
within the Iraqi Constitution, the United States has
made some concessions that pave the way for
independence, including issuing visas through the US
Consulate in Erbil, allowing Kurds to bypass
Baghdad. The underlying message is that while the
United States does not officially support Kurdish
separatism, it is reducing obstacles to its
The United States and the United Kingdom might be
gone, but Barzani has managed to find a new ally in
an unlikely place, Istanbul. Turkey has turned to
Iraqi Kurds to check growing Iranian influence in
Iraq. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Prime
Minister Maliki have exchanged harsh words, with
Erdogan criticizing Maliki for sectarian policies
and Maliki accusing Turkey of becoming a “hostile
The real showdown isn’t between Baghdad and
Istanbul, but between Tehran and Istanbul. Turkey’s
ruling Islamists crawled into bed with Iran, but the
relationship is turning sour. The flashpoint is
Syria, which is Iran’s puppet and which Turkey is
doing its best to replace with the rebel Muslim
Brotherhood. Turkey’s hosting of the Friends of
Syria conference of countries looking to overthrow
the Syrian government and replace it with the
Brotherhood, led to Iranian accusations of Zionist
collaboration and furious over an Iranian refusal to
come to Istanbul, Erdogan accusing it of dishonesty.
Iran’s strategic response has been to move the time
wasting talks over its nuclear program to Baghdad, a
reminder that it is a step away from controlling
Iraq’s oil and gas, which Turkey is dependent on.
But Iraq’s largest oil export line runs out of
Kirkuk which will be a major target in any Kurdish
independence bid. Kirkuk has Iraq’s second largest
oil reserves, after Shiite Basra, and has seen
ethnic cleansing before. It will see it again.
Baghdad and the Kurds are already fighting over
Kirkuk’s oil, with the Kurds pulling the plug on oil
exports. Baghdad has tried to intimidate Exxon out
of oil exploration in Kurdistan while trying to
replace it with the friendlier British Petroleum. BP
has close ties to Iran’s oil industry and backdoor
connections to Iran’s government, making it a
natural choice for Baghdad. BP was originally the
Anglo-Persian Oil Company and more trusted in
Baghdad and Tehran. But not in Kurdistan.
The first shot in Iraq’s full scale civil war will
likely be fired in Kirkuk. Everyone knows it’s
coming, the only question is when. Barzani’s pivotal
speech indicated that he hoped to solicit support
from Shiite militias of the Sadr and Badr Brigades.
Muqata Al-Sadr has reciprocated by endorsing Kurdish
rights to oil exploration. These gestures however
are only temporary. The Kurds have fought the
Sadrists before over Kirkuk and will again. The
Kurds were ethnically cleansed in favor of Shiite
Arabs under Saddam’s divide and conquer program and
since the liberation,www.ekurd.net
the Kurds have been steadily pushing out the Arabs.
The Sadr and Badr brigades have fought each other
and everyone will fight the Kurds over Kirkuk.
Iraq is above all else dysfunctional. Alliances even
within ethnic and sectarian groups are momentary and
quickly vanish. The Sadrists may be Shiites, but
they want to protect their own corrupt fiefdoms, and
a strong Maliki federal government threatens that.
But that hasn’t stopped Shiite militias from
threatening to ethnically cleanse Kurds from
Baghdad, while accusing the Kurds of using
checkpoints to keep Arabs out of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The stakes in the conflict are not just local, but
regional. Under Maliki relations have sharpened with
Sunni Gulf states, all of whom have a stake in
bringing him down. And that drives funding to
Al-Qaeda which is leading the bloody local campaign
against the Shiites. The Saudis and Kuwaitis might
find a splinter Al-Qaeda Emirate acceptable if it
kneecaps a Shiite Iraq and that risks turning Iraq
into the next Afghanistan.
America has been counting on the Kurds for
stability, but their patience is running out and so
is our influence. The Kurds have a limited interest
in the sectarian conflicts except as a way of
carving out their own state. That is what they
wanted all along and they have been patient about
it. Their best tactic is dividing Iraq as much
possible, pitting Sunnis against Shiites and Shiites
against Shiites, Iran against Turkey, until their
enemies are too busy fighting each other to stop
Together the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the
Kurds are bringing down Iraqi federalism and
together with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey they are
ushering in a full scale civil war.
Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page