On the Road to Doha: Kurds; & Iran; by Michael Rubin, author; with Malcolm Hoenlein, Mary Kissel, Christopher Nixon Cox
(Photo: Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria)
Michael Rubin, author, in re: Kurds; & Iran. The situation in Iraq is stabilized; jockeying in advance of the spring elections. Protests in Iraqi Kurdistan because so much money has been unpaid and has disappeared; but Baghdad has said it’ll pay civil servants as soon as the audits are done. Mahsoud Barzani stepped down in name but not reality. Kurds sold a lot of their oil interests in advance for cash payments; some co’s thereby get to take X Bbls of oil, but the oil fields around Kirkuk were taken by Baghdad, so Kurds have a loan shark situation. Kurds have always been hopelessly divided – Syria, Turkey, Iran. Still, there’s somc optimism there right now. The good-cop/bad-cop dynamic is without legs; it’s not reformers or hardliners who control; rather, control is by Iran. The Supreme Leader has had cancer; when he leaves, celebrations will break out. The internecine disagreements are like the Jewish Liberation Front vs. the Liberation Front of the People of Judea. The best chance for Kurds to achieve independence will be when the Islamic Republic dissolves. Qassem Soleimani: he’s both prowling the area and gone on to other troubles. Just because he’s shown up somewhere. he might be there for a photo op and be trying to look as though he’s in charge. Everywhere he appears is where Iran thinks is important. He may be entitled as head of the Quds Corps, but he’s really the foreign Minister. Not the ever-photographed Jared Zarif. Ankara summoned a senior US diplo. The most effective fighting force vs ISIS and al Q were the Syrian Kurds, but both Turkey and the US call them terrorists. As Turkey switched from US to Russia to China to Russia, no one trusts Erdogan. US wants Assad and Russians not to offer sovereignty or something in order to spilt the US from Kurds. We refuse to let Kurdish leadership visit US, but Russia invites them; the US lacks a coherent strategy. I’m a big fan of federalism, and it’ll reverberate throughout the world. I was in Syrian Kurdistan and was highly impressed by their organization and fighting force. Local rule and people having liberty: US needs to support these the world over. When I ended my last trip to Iraq was the first time I’ve been optimistic. Iran has long been the most brutal regime and the Kurds won't forget it. · http://www.aei.org/publication/968232/ · http://www.rudaw.net/english/interview/10012018 · https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjR0vbA0NDYAhUxkeAKHbZ7CMkQqUMIODAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thetimes.co.uk%2Farticle%2Ftur key-summons-us-diplomat-over-kurdish-training-programme-g5btw0dzj&usg=AOvVaw1uFJubgsVE3v7Rav8OtwRb · https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/12/iraq-kurdistan-baghdad-referendum.html Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes examines a half-century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.