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The Kurds gained nothing with their vote for independence

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Back in June, the president of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, scheduled a referendum for Kurdish independence. This was the fulfillment of various stillborn attempts to advance the cause of Kurdish independence. They held the vote on September 25, and unsurprisingly, the result was 93 percent “yes” to independence.

They thought it would buy them a place at the table with the Baghdad government, but they were sold the Brooklyn Bridge by the Barzanis, who have autocratically ruled the region for several years.

Now, Iranian tanks have rolled up to the Iraqi border, as Iraq’s government puts a stranglehold on the region. And its people suffer. These are some of the U.S.’s best friends in the war against ISIS. We warned them that any vote would not be recognized, and exactly as we said, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that the U.S. finds the vote illegal and illegitimate.

All the vote has done is bring Hezbollah, Iran, and Iraq more into alignment as the power players in the region, able to get the United States to do their bidding, while Iran thumbs its nose from behind a Russian shield on IAEA inspections. It’s complicated in the Middle East.

Perspectives

KRP: Kurdistan people disappointed by Tillerson’s statement on referendum

“The people of Kurdistan, who have consistently and enthusiastically supported the United States, especially more recently in its fight against ISIS and Saddam Hussein, are deeply disappointed in the statement by Secretary Tillerson on Friday,” read a statement from the Presidency.

Hezbollah says Kurdish vote a step toward wider Mideast partition | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-kurds-referendum-hezbo/hezbollah-says-kurdish-vote-a-step-toward-wider-mideast-partition-idUSKCN1C50RKBEIRUT (Reuters) – The powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Saturday that an Iraqi Kurdish independence vote marked a first step toward the partition of the Middle East, warning that this would lead to “internal wars” and must be opposed.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed group, said events in northern Iraq, where Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence on Monday, were a threat to the whole region and not just Iraq and neighboring states with Kurdish populations.

“It will open the door to partition, partition, partition,” Nasrallah said. He added that “partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God”.

Iranian Tanks Roll Up to The Iraqi Border As Embargo of Kurds Expands – The Drive

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/14798/iranian-tanks-roll-up-to-the-iraqi-border-as-embargo-of-kurds-expandsIran has moved tanks and artillery up to the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, close enough to the boundary that they are visible from the other side. The move is the latest in a string of increasingly threatening responses to the semi-autonomous region’s decision to vote in favor of independence, which has drawn widespread condemnation from national governments in the region and failed to win unequivocal support from many of the Kurd’s powerful western allies, including the United States.

On Oct. 2, 2017, the Iranian forces appeared along the Iran-Iraq border, reportedly as part of a previously announced combined drill with Iraqi national forces and militia in retaliation for the independence vote. Authorities in Tehran had already kicked off military exercises near the boundary on Sept. 24, 2017 a day ahead of the poll in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, ostensibly as part of the annual Sacred Defense Week to commemorate the Iran-Iraq War. More than 3.3 million people there, more than 70 percent of registered voters, turned out on Sept. 25, 2017 to cast their ballots, with more than 90 percent voting in favor an independent Kurdistan.

After the Vote, Does the Kurdish Dream of Independence Have a Chance?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/world/middleeast/kurds-iraq-independence.html?mcubz=0&_r=0A healthy democratic government might weather the storm. “We don’€™t have rule of law,€” we have a monarchy,” said Rabbon Marof, a member of the Kurdish Parliament and a leader of the “No for Now”€ movement that opposed the vote. The region’€™s president, Massoud Barzani, remains in power two years after his term expired.

Final thoughts

Independence is a wonderful concept, but the Kurdish people would be far from free as an independent state. They would be under the thumb of the Barzanis, who have ruled like kings or dictators. The U.S. was correct in rejecting the legitimacy of this vote. However, we should recognize what the vote accomplished. The Kurdish people deserve self-determination. Right now, their choice is between the Barzanis and the Iraqis.

The U.S. should be doing the yeoman’s work in bringing the Kurds to the table, but that isn’t likely to happen with the Barzanis in control. Then again, it’s not America’s role to dictate who should run other nations. This was a very difficult situation–again we warned the Barzanis what would happen, but they went ahead anyway.

All this vote did was make America’s work harder to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state. When that happens, the Kurds will have lost any chance of freedom. They never should have taken this vote.

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

Iranian state television is reporting the mastermind behind last months’ terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran. 25 people were killed, including a dozen members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

An alleged member of the Islamic State, Abu Zaha, was killed by Iran along with four other militants in Diyala province in Iraq. They gave no indication of how the operation was carried out. Though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, many believe it was the Ahwaz National Resistance, an Iranian separatist group that also claimed responsibility.

Iran Claims It Has Killed Mastermind of Deadly Attack on Parade

https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/10/16/iran-claims-it-has-killed-mastermind-of-deadly-attack-on-parade/The Sunni Muslim Islamic State group, in decline in Iraq and Syria, considers the majority Shi’ite Muslims of Iran to be heretics.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said those responsible for the parade attack were paid by Sunni Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that Iran will “severely punish” those behind the violence.

My Take

It behooves Iran to get their justice from the Islamic State rather than Ahwaz National Resistance. ISIS is an easy operator to blame for the attacks whether they did it or not. It’s believable and presents an enemy that isn’t as close to home as Ahwaz National Resistance. It also allows them to maintain their narrative that ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We’ll likely never know if Zaha was really the mastermind behind the attack. If similar attacks happen in the coming months, it’s likely that Ahwaz National Resistance is behind them, not ISIS.

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Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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News

Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the international outcry was fairly universal. The thinking for decades has been that if the international community recognizes Israel’s capital, then tensions and conflict in the region would grow.

A year after the announcement, not much has changed. Conflict is still there, though not notably higher. The world hasn’t ended even though we’re months away from the move being completed. Now, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he may be willing to follow President Trump’s lead and move their embassy to Jerusalem as well.

My Take

A nation should be allowed to declare its own capital. Israel is the only nation on the planet that the international community refuses to allow this privilege because they believe the “contested” lands in Israel will some day be “returned” to the Palestinians.

Even as just about every world leader pushes for a two-state solution, it’s refreshing to see concessions being made to Israel instead of the incessant cries for Israel to concede everything they have.

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