Zurück in den 90er Jahren
Joost Hiltermann, der sich wie kaum ein anderer in Irakisch-Kurdistan auskennt, über die jüngsten Entwicklungen:
If Barzani thought that the Trump administration had the Kurds’ back through some combination of sympathy, gratitude, and strategic need, he was sorely mistaken. The U.S. has used the KRG (and, in northern Syria, PKK-affiliated Kurds) as virtual security contractors, and continues to insist on a nominally unified Iraq as the primary doorstop against Iranian dominance over an economically weakened and internally riven Kurdish region. Their mutual relationship is based on a voluntary misunderstanding: Washington deliberately refrains from making explicit the “terms of contract” of U.S. engagement with the Kurds; in turn, the Kurds believe that these terms will eventually lead to U.S. support for statehood. Recent events have shown, once again, that they are wrong.
Today the KRG is back to the lines drawn in 1991, when Saddam’s forces withdrew from the Kurdish region in the wake of the Kuwait war and Kurdish rising in the north. It’s a defeat on a par with the collapse of Mustafa Barzani’s forces in 1975. In both cases, the Barzanis blamed the U.S., and in both cases Iran played a major role. The sad reality is that Iraq’s Kurds remain landlocked, their status determined by the interests of their more powerful neighbors. Internally, they are more divided than they have been in two decades. The KDP shouts “treason” at the PUK for facilitating the federal forces’ entry into Kirkuk, but the PUK can parry by reminding Barzani of his decision to invite Saddam’s forces into the Kurdish region in 1996. And so another circle is completed.
Whether the Barzani dynasty, or the KDP-PUK duopoly, will survive this disastrous setback to the Kurdish drive for statehood is next up. A young Kurd has two aspirations: that the two parties will disappear, to be replaced by more unified, more competent, more democratic, and less corrupt government, and that deepening antagonism between the U.S., Iran, and Turkey will give the Kurds new breathing space and an opportunity to start building again. One thing is certain: their hope for independence will never die.