A deal was also made, on the quiet, to make sure that Peshmerga went away without causing a scene.
After the independence referendum last month, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force Qassim Soleimani paid several visits to the Kurdish region.
He made offers to Jalal Talabani’s family (the late leader of the PUK, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) which basically involves making PUK-controlled regions a territory of Iran. There were also threats to PUK Peshmerga officers saying that if they resist, they will be “crushed”.
There is a very big risk that the city of Kirkuk will end up under the control of a party that is ambivalent to the interests of the people.
In the military operation last week, the Interior Ministry which is teeming with Iran’s allies played a big role. Thousands of people fled their homes from militias that are backed by Iran who executed people and burned down houses.
The Prime Minister called for Hashd forces in Kirkuk to withdraw. Although this has partly happened, there are some towns that are still occupied. The Iranian proxies are keen to keep control over territories they can, especially after investing the past three years into it.
This is a failing of the international community that is allowing Iran to get away with such action.
Although United States President Donald Trump has vowed to be tough on Iran, he has yet to react in this regard. Many are saying that the Kirkuk annexation is Iran’s response of defiance to Trump’s decertification speech. All Trump has said is that the United States will not take sides and “we don’t like the fact that they’re clashing”.
This is disappointing seeing as the president has said on numerous occasions that he will do what he can to stop Iran creating chaos in the region.
Masoud Barzani has managed to keep going. The United States has abandoned the issue and Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran have plotted against it. The different Kurdish parties are blaming each other and enemies are propagating the situation. Civil war is on the cards.
This is something that Iranian regime has been counting on as it will benefit greatly from the conflict.
The Kurdish cause can be understood and it makes sense for there to be a system of limited autonomy. Yet, let’s not forget that separatism causes instability and political weakness. If Iran is left to meddle away in Iraq, it can only be expected that Iraq falls apart and Iran will jump in at the first opportunity to make the most of the situation.
This is why Iran needs to be removed urgently.