COMMENTARY: ISIL aims to alter Mideast map

COMMENTARY: ISIL  aims to alter Mideast map

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 15

By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:

The capture of several Iraqi cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group considered by most countries to be a terrorist organization has spoiled relations between Baghdad and the Kurdish administration.

Kurdish groups, who have long sought independence from Iraq (and other countries where there are important Kurdish populations in the region, might see this as an opportunity to jump the gun

Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader has already announced that he will hold a referendum on the status of autonomy. Kurdish officials representing Kurdish interests in Baghdad have already returned to Erbil from Baghdad.

This move by the Kurds will lead to the rupture of relations between Baghdad and the Kurds. Iraqi Kurdistan has been the most stable part of the country since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

While the rise of ISIL can be considered to be the instigator of the Kurdish move towards independence, in fact the Kurdish aspiration to govern themselves goes back much further.

Despite their serious potential to govern themselves, politically, economically and militarily, the main reason that the Kurds have not announced their independence is because they face stiff opposition from other nations of the region, such as Syria, Iran and Turkey.

The Kurdish administration is today self-sufficient and does not need the central government in Baghdad. They even announced plans to use the U.S. dollar in stead of the Iraqi dinar as currency and later introduce their own currency - the Kura.

However, even Russia is opposed to a Kurdish state.

Russian president's special representative for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia, which supports Iraq's territorial integrity, doesn't rule out the possibility of emergence of an independent Kurdish state. But it doesn't mean that there support for such a project.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian pointed out in his statement that Iran by no means will allow Iraq to split. The emergence of a Kurdish state worries Iran as it has an important Kurdish minority.

The deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling party, Huseyin Celik stated that if a Kurdish state is created, it will be a "brotherly state" to Turkey.

During his visit to Ankara on July 14, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barazani met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. High on the agenda was how to address the question of ISIL. Turkey asked the Kurdish leader not to rush to hold a referendum.

The political tension in Iraq, the confrontation between the central government and Erbil, the relations between Turkey and the KRG suggests that Barazani's government will hold a referendum on the KRG's status sooner or later. The referendum is likely to be held after the presidential election in Turkey, which is scheduled for August 10.

What the outcome is likely to be is anyone's guess.

Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Arabic News Service

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