At “Today’s Zaman”, distinguished columnist Abdullah Bozkurt quotes Turkish government sources as saying that, faced with the Iraqi government’s continued repression of its Sunni and Kurdish minorities, Turkey is readying a plan B after years of supporting a united Iraqi state.
According to a senior government official who I talked to last week, Turkey has set things in motion to beef up a contingency plan for the future of Iraq in the face of the increasing likelihood that the country may be divided along sectarian lines under the joint pressure of the militant Shiite regime in Tehran and its co-conspirators in Baghdad.
The fallback position for Turkey now or Plan B for the future of Iraq is to create a united front, consisting of Sunni Arabs and Kurds, against the Shiite majority. Because of the sensitivity of the partition issue, the official spoke under the condition of anonymity.
…The contingency planning for the partition of Iraq may soon turn into a Turkish government policy if Maliki continues to stoke tensions with Sunni Arabs and Kurds that will trigger a fresh cycle of violence in Iraq. This issue was also discussed during the nearly one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting ErdoÄŸan had with US President Barack Obama in Seoul on Sunday ahead of an international nuclear meeting.
After decades of problems with Kurdish seperatists, Ankara has de facto recognized the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and established strong political and economic ties with it – including an understanding on marginalizing the PKK terror group. Bozkurt writes that Iraqi Kurds have come to realize that they’d rather have Turkish military incursions hunting the PKK than Iranian ones, and have become highly suspicious of Maliki and his obvious Iranian backing. Turkey is actively working, he says, to broker an alliance between Kurds and Sunni Arabs – particularly in the oil-rich flashpoint region around Kirkuk. He notes that Sunni provinces are already making calls for federalism and that Shiite provinces like Basra are following suit.
Back in 2006, Joe Biden proposed a federal partitioning of Iraq, to massive condemnation from the Right,who saw it as defeatist not to embrace a fully democratic and united Iraq as the end goal, and skepticism from some on the Left (including myself) who saw it as just another version of re-arranging deckchairs while insisting we had the right to tell Iraqis how to run their country. At the time, even Sunni Iraqi political figures and regional Arab leaders were adamant they wanted to keep a unified Iraq too. None of us really anticipated how Maliki would morph from being an expected US puppet to Napoleon wannabe with strong Iranian backing.
Now, we may well get a strong partition instead of Biden’s “soft” version – and Turkey is apparently planning on being there, as broker, to its own advantage.