It is not clear at the time of writing if Turkey will or will not allow the United States to use the NATO air base at Incirlik for airstrikes against ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq. On October 13, national security adviser Susan Rice announced that Turkey had finally agreed to the use of the base, only to be contradicted the very next day by Turkey’s foreign minister. A subsequent press report claimed that the Turks were allowing their American allies to fly reconnaissance drones from Incirlik but no manned aircraft.Read more
Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan
A war is being waged along a 900-mile front between two entities that today constitute de facto quasi-states stretching across the old border between Syria and Iraq. These are the Islamic State to the south and a contiguous area of Kurdish-controlled territory to the north. Recently, I traveled to the latter, in regions of northern Iraq and northeast Syria, like the town of Derik, where I spoke with a Kurdish soldier who had recently been in a firefight with IS forces in the neighboring village of Jeza’a.
On Friday, July 11, as reported at the Kurdish English-language news portal Rudaw [Events], combat fighters representing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, known as Peshmerga, occupied oil fields in Hassan and Makhmour, near the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk that the KRG occupied in mid-June. Rudaw asserted the KRG’s claim to the oil fields based on investment in and construction of the facilities by the regional authority. But the Kurdish source also argued it was necessary to protect the assets from the Baghdad government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, which has challenged the right of the Kurds to extract and sell their oil for their own benefit.Read more
If Syria is a testing ground for the larger struggle of the American-led order in the Middle East against the Iranian-led resistance bloc, it’s also an example of the importance of the Kurds. An ethnic community with almost 30 million people spread across the Middle East—most densely in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria—the Kurds have become a major player in this larger struggle, with regional powers, like Turkey, Iran and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, courting various Kurdish parties and figures in order to advance their own interests.Read more
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel soon to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for a discussion of border disputes and trade relations, reports the Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Ira. Ahmadinejad will meet with KRG president Massoud Barzani, who visited Tehran at the end of October with a delegation of KRG ministers and governors.Read more
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