Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Iraq Conquers Kirkuk

The central Iraqi government based in Baghdad has conquered oil-rich and ethnically-mixed Kirkuk from its recent Kurdish rulers, who hoped to continue ruling it as part of their recently declared independent state of (Iraqi) Kurdistan, clearly consisting of three provinces, but which they also wanted to include the fourth one of Kirkuk province.  This now appears not to be going to happen.

Juan Cole has made an excellent discussion of this, noting 7 reasons why this is not about Iran as many commentators in the US claim.  I shall  not repeat most of his arguments here but suggest people look at the link.  I shall note the crucial point that what looked like it was going to be a major military conflict over Kirkuk thankfully turned out not to be is that the Kurdish Pesh Merga, who were ruling Kirkuk, actually are tied to the main opposition party in Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union Party (PUK) led by the Talabani  family,whose old patriarch, once a president of all of Iraq, has just died.  The Pesh Merga has simply withdrawn peacefully from Kirkuk, handing a major embarrassment to Massoud Barzani, the current president of newly independent (maybe) Kurdistan, who leads the center right Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK).  This suggests that while the opposition nominally supported Barzani's independence referendum, they lack enthusiasm, and Barzani may end up in trouble as things are not going well with this.  As I noted in a previous post, Barzani is in a tight position because he canceled an election in 2015, and Kurdistan's economy has been weak due to low oil prices.

I also add that apparently the fall of Kirkuk temporarily shuts down 350,000 barrels of oil per day production, which will add to the ongoing increase in world oil prices.

Barkley Rosser


Longtooth said...

That's an interesting way of putting it: "Conquers" doesn't give the correct connotation of what actually happened at all. You seem to have a strong bent to exaggerate realities.

"Iraq takes possession of Kirkuk without opposition" is the apt description of what happened.

In your last post on the subject you also exaggerated the effects of the referendum vote to the level of being an alarmist:

The Kurdish Independence Vote
Barkley Rosser, Saturday, September 30, 2017
"The hostile reactions of neighbors and especially the central Iraqi government may well lead to war, even as Daesh/ISIS remains not quite completely defeated within Iraqi territory, with up until now the Kurdish Pesh Merga having been working with the Iraq National Army as well as various Iranian Shia militias against Daesh/ISIS"

I considered your statement and post to be an "alarmist" overemphasis on secondary and tertiary issues which you seemed to elevate to primary.

And so I commented with background reasons that:

"And the Kurdish leadership got the message loud and clear. They have public support by Kurds now clearly demonstrated which is the political power the leadership wanted in the first place. They may decided to maintain Kirkuk as a strategy for later bargaining power, but otherwise there will be no war.".

I've figured out from this and some of your other posts you tend to be an alarmist type... generally elevating the state of a present issue to something having a critical nature to it when in fact there is none. Making mountains out of mole-hills is the standard description.

Barkley Rosser said...

Fine, Longtooth, I was alarmist on this, and maybe I am on some other posts. Good for you for pointing this out. As it is, I am glad that I turned out to be alarmist. I do not like unnecessary wars.

As it was, I do not think you had the details on why this turned out as it did, which had little to do with the Kurdish leadership making a decision. Indeed, all the reports have it that President Barzani is very upset about what happened, which involved his political rivals who actually command the Peshmerga cutting a deal with the central government and withdrawing, thereby in fact undercutting the independence vote, which they think was a dumb move, and which appears to be going nowhere. There have also been widespread reports of Iran playing a major role in helping to bring about the deal that was made, although that remains a matter of controversy, but Juan Cole notes that in this case Iran and the US were once again cooperating on the ground. Nobody outside of Iraqi Kurdistan is supporting Barzani's referendum, and many inside who nominally supported it are undercutting it and him.

But, Longtooth, I know that you are ever on the lookout to find me making an error, and you succeeded this time. However, I shall simply note that I was hardly the only one worried that this could have turned into a full blown war, and that remains not entirely out of the question still in the future, if now somewhat unlikely.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

BTW, Longtooth, there was a violent confrontation upfront, with most of the Kurdish Peshmerga then withdrawing, but yesterday there was another round of clashes for control of the final portion of Kirkuk, with the Iraqi forces defeating the Kurdish ones.

So, bottom line: Iraq has conquered Kirkuk.

Longtooth said...

Barkley and that report was from whom? The Iraqi's or the Kurds? and how much is pure bullshit propaganda exaggerated out of all proportion with any reality? And you believe this shit as if if's god's gospel.

In your own mind you're always dead on right. Pretty interesting insight if I may say so.

Longtooth said...


Let me ask you a few simple questions.

Since you must be aware that Pentagon and gov't documents classified as "secret" when written or received are often released 25 and 50 years after the fact and which often disclose the facts and additional information that was part of the original lies and deceits and omitted information at the time events occurred, then it is clearly and unequivocally established that official government statements are not reliable in part or whole some of the time.

Since you must also know that the reason for maintaining the documents as "secret" for 25 and 50 years after the fact is to try to insure the government isn't caught in lies and deceits until the events are a generation or more out of tune with the present voting public, and thus probably not of even any interest other than to academic historians, then you known that the gov't intends to lie and deceive in order to promote public opinion as they want it to be.

Assuming therefore that you agree completely and totally the above, then:

What makes you think that information provided by gov'ts at the time of events occurring is honest, forthright, and complete, or even a semblance of truth?

Indeed, what makes you think the non-military versions of events and occurrences by journalists is honest, forthright, and complete or even a semblance of truth since they have their own ideological bent and agenda.

Of the gov't reports that are made available to journalists, and/or statements by gov't representatives made to journalists, including "interviews", or people who's beneficial interests and/or status depends on those governments and/or their representatives, employees, etc. how to you decide which to believe are honest, forthright, and complete or even a semblance of truth, and which are not, or if any are at all?

I mean if we have outright liars as Presidents of the U.S. (and I'm not referring exclusively to Trump at all), and who use carefully worded statements to be able to later say "I didn't lie", and heads of House Committees, and Senate Committees who tell outright lies then what gives you the confidence that governments don't lie to suit their own agenda and posturing with the public or to have effect of confusing the citizens of an opposing regime or people domestically even?

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Um, sorry, Longooth, but my source for this is Juan Cole whose sources are Arab and Persian language news sources. This is not at all from the Pentagon or the White House. Your entire speech here about secrets is completely irrelevant and silly. You really are obsessed with finding me in error. On this one you now look just commpletely ridiculous, a pathetic joke.

In today's Washington Post there was a long story about how details of all this are still in dispute, in particular the exact ins and outs within and between the various parties in Iraqi Kurdistan and just exactly who called for which portions of the Peshmerga to pull back in the fact of the Iraqi and Shia militia advance, as well as who resisted and how many Peshmerga soldiers died. But there is no question that there were rounds of conflict in which quite a few Peshmerga died resisting this conquest, even as large portions of the city and surrounding territory were easily taken as portions of the Peshmerga withdrew. There is also debate about the role of an Iranian diplomat in all the negotiations with the various parties involved.

One thing that is now clear is that Barzani has made a very dumb mistake. He thought he would gain leverage for bargaining with Baghdad with this independence declaration, but he has totally lost leverage. Probably the most damaging thing he has lost is not Kirkuk city itself, but the oil fields near it, which constituted nearly all of the oil production that the Kurdish Regional Government was exporting through Turkey. Now they have lost it, and may be on the verge of complete economic collapse. The irony is that it is clear that a major motive for the independence referendum was for Barzani to gain political clout by distracting the population from mounting economic problems, but now those economic problems are about to become far worse. He really messed up big time.

Longtooth said...

So I suppose you mean the "free: press in Iran ("Persian") and other unidentified "Arab" states are the accurate sources. I get it. You're parroting what you think is accurate, complete and honest information but provide no basis by which you make your personal judgments.

And clearly failed to answer any of the simple questions I posed as to where and what you think/opine/believe are the accurate sources of your information. Among which were:

"Of the gov't reports that are made available to journalists, and/or statements by gov't representatives made to journalists, including "interviews", or people who's beneficial interests and/or status depends on those governments and/or their representatives, employees, etc. how to you decide which to believe are honest, forthright, and complete or even a semblance of truth, and which are not, or if any are at all?"

Longtooth said...

And Barkley,

That I find some of your posts to make statements which are not accurate or exaggerations shouldn't be taken personally as you obviously do however. It seems therefore to me all the more reason to bring out these discrepancies rather than let them remain unquestioned as if they are correct.

If nobody question's your statements when they have reason to do so then doesn't that give you the freedom to err and/or mislead, intentionally or unintentionally, without correction or further understanding and enlightenment?

Longtooth said...

If you go back to my initial comment, I simply pointed out that your post was alarmist in substance and that I have seen such tendencies in some of your prior posts. I substantiated my view of this with reasons and foundations which were based on my general understanding of the larger political conditions related to the Kurds in Iraq and neighboring nations.

You're response was in the defensive style:

"Fine, Longtooth, I was alarmist on this, and maybe I am on some other posts. Good for you for pointing this out. As it is, I am glad that I turned out to be alarmist. I do not like unnecessary wars."

Perhaps a more rational non-defensive style response would have been something along the lines of...

"Yes, Longtooth, I tend in some cases to make alarmist type statements because, in this case I don't like wars, and my alarmist style might dissuade the protagonists from going to war since they pay attention to my posts on this website.

... which I think captures what you said in your actual response but without the defensive style, don't you agree?

Of course that would have sounded like you think you're important and significant in the sphere of international affairs and have significant influence in that circle in Middle East,, and I surmise would make you look like a fool, so you can't say it that way since nobody wants to voluntarily look like a fool.

When people start their response to you verbally to your face or in writing with "Fine Longtooth..." it immediately raises the tone of a defensive posture, and you know this as well as anybody else.

And when they continue by saying "Good for you..." it is a clear and unambiguous response to someone considered to be a
subordinate when made in the context of the starting phrase "Fine Longtooth..."

Is there some reason you for you to be so defensive when questioned or opposed? Or is it that you don't consider others without your credentials to be worthy of a response to a peer.

I've known a few dozen doctorates, many quite accomplished and published in their fields, some even in macroecon, some even full econ professors at major universities (two to be exact) and with whom I have had professional interactions for over 30 years and I can't recall more than one or two who ever even remotely spoke down to me or responded in a defensive posture when I've pointed out errors, significant omissions, or assumptions which may not apply.

So you won't therefore take offense when I take offense with your denigrating responses to me. I do take offense with your phrases directed to me such as:

".. completely irrelevant and silly" or "...look just commpletely ridiculous, a pathetic joke.

and especially when you fail utterly to even consider my questions relevant to the issue at hand, which is of course your rejection of anybody you don't consider your peer and who questions your own idea of your personal superiority.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Sorry, Longtooth, but these last three posts make me respect you even less. You are really losing it. Here is the bottom line: you came on all self-righteous that I had inaccurately stated that "Iraq had conquered Kirkuk" because you claimed there was no violence. But there was violence and death, and some in Kurdistan are still talking about attempting to contest what happened, meaning war is not out of the question, although I think now it is not going to happen due to a lot of things, although I am uncertain about various issues going on there given confusing stories coming out. But, you were simply dead wrong. Deal with it.

Regarding my sources, I happen to trust Juan Cole a lot, although I have some disagreements with him and have debated with him on his site on quite a few occasions, including recently. However, during the Iraq war and since he regularly disagreed with official US sources, including when the major US media spouted the US sources basically uncritically, about both the Iraq war and Iran. In almost all of those cases, Cole proved to be correct. His reliance on a variety of Arab and Persian language sources has proven to be far more reliable than what comes out of official US sources, even if sometimes he gets it wrong (although usually when he gets it wrong and I disagree with him, it is not because US sources were right, but that both he and they were wrong).

BTW, in case you did not know, Longtooth, I have spent serious time in the Middle East and used to read the Arab sources myself, although not anymore. Gotten rusty. But I know enough to occasionally correct Juan Cole, even when he is more on top of it than what is being driveled about in the US media from the US government.

I have stated on Facebook that I do not suffer fools gladly, Longtooth, and as of now I consider both you and our good friend, Egmont, to be major fools. Sorry, but that is the way it is, and your recent multiple posts on several threads here have just dug yourself deeper into looking like that to me.

Longtooth said...

Give no ground. Take no prisoners. You remind me a pompous ass, but since I don't know you at all personally I cannot draw that conclusion.... yet. You certainly lack in intellectual rationalism, however.. that much I have already concluded.

It's too bad you like to resort to personal insults... it demeans you more than you may realize.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...


Regarding the charge of being pompous, I plead guilty guilty guilty. Regarding the charge of irrationalism, I do not think you have proved that. I have made some mistakes, such as saying that the Dow demo was the first major violent anti-Vietnam War demo, when there was at least one earlier that happened in LA. But, for all my pomposity and arrogance and assholery, I readily admit my errors when they are pointed out to me.

I have not noticed you doing that. Oh, and you are right, I take no prisoners. And I am not going to apologize for insulting you. You have deserved every bit of it.

Have a nice weekend, Longtooth.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Oh, and Longtooth, there is ongoing violent and deadly conflict going on between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds since the fall of Kirkuk to the central government conquest. The latest outbreak was at a town near the borders of the semi-autonomous region and not too far from the KRG's capital, Erbil, a place named Altrul Kupri. Lots of destroyed Abrams tanks left from the battle, according to Juan Cole.

So, I was not at all alarmist for worry about war between the central government and the Kurds. It is happening, if at a fairly low level fortunately. It could be lot worse, but it is happening, in contrast to your inaccurate claims.

So, sorry, you were wrong and also pompous and insulting in making your inaccurate claims. That means you get to be insulted back and have to live with it.