The loss of Kirkuk was certainly a surprise to Kurds across the Kurdistan region including those in Kirkuk. After all, the Kurdish government led by de-facto president Masoud Barzani raised the hopes of all Kurds, included the disputed province in the independence referendum and vowed to defend the city at any cost. The unfortunate reality was that he was nowhere to be seen when Kirkuk fell to the Shiite proxy Popular Mobilization Unite (PMU) and the Iraqi army. Barzani did not even show his face when addressing the Kurdish nation, instead he had his mouth piece media Kurdistan 24 and Rudaw read an accusing statement out loud. He certainly failed Kurds, did not take responsibility for the betrayal all while blaming everyone but himself and his party, even though they hold top government posts. What happened in Kirkuk should have been expected (I wrote a piece via the Raddington Report on Kirkuk here), the Iraqi government warned Kurds along with international players including the US and United Nations Security Council to postpone the referendum. Barzani acted unilaterally as always, sacrificed Kurdish lives and again is aiming to extend his illegal term as president. The KRG, led by Barzani has now lost all territory gained during the fight against the Islamic State (estimated at 40%) and the lifeline of KRGs oil export. The unraveling of Kirkuk was a Kurdish problem, Kurds shouldn’t be so quick to blame the US- we chose to ignore all calls.
Kirkuk is currently in the hands of the Iraqi government, the PMU is expected to withdraw completely on Iraqi prime minister’s orders, Haidar Abadi. A faction of the Kurdish party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under Lahur Talabani who commands the anti-terror force has cut a deal with Baghdad to control Kurdish areas, most Kurds see this as undermining the KRG. Ultimately Baghdad is now able to control Kirkuk’s oil fields, boosting Iraq’s supplies while choking the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Originally published at Musings on Iraq on October 23, 2017.