NEO – Moscow Outmaneuvers Washington’s Kurdistan Project

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by F. William Engdahl, … with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

Barzani politically shot himself in the head, but he has at least a billion stashed away for this rainy day

[ Editor’s Note: Brother Engdahl brings us a good wrapup on the Barzani-Israeli, independent Kurdistan caper that never had a snowball’s chance in hell. Although his contention was that the US supported the attempt, when the Barzani Kurds complained bitterly that it did not, mystified me.

But William has done a great job on the dot-connecting of what has been going on behind the scenes, reviewing Barzani selling oil out the back door via Turkey, while handling ISIS oil at the same time by letting its trucks flow right through the Kurdish areas to the Turkish border.

This helping to fund ISIS to line their own pockets was a treasonous act against Baghdad when the country was in the middle of a major state-sponsored terror war. Barzani and all those involved with him, including the Turks, should be hanged.

Payback day came when the PUK opposition Kurds who thought the independence ploy was a disaster, agreed to move their troops back from Kirkuk and let Iraqi forces nip the move by Barzani to grab that oil permanently. We estimate thousands of lives were saved by this “grown ups” decision.

The Russian and Rosnet moves and oil investment motives are more murky, with more than a whiff of playing both sides against the middle. But with that said, Rosnet did have billions invested in pipeline infrastructure deals, which increases the wealth to be distributed for everybody, so no one will be kicking them out any time soon.

That his failed Kurdish independence move has resulted in so few casualties and destruction has been a pleasant surprise to us all. We hope it stays that way, as Iraq has a huge amount of rebuilding to do, and hopefully making sure that nothing like this can ever happen again to them.

The Iraqi people have suffered enough, but the Israelis not enough, as they were buying most of the oil stolen from Iraq. Iran has been getting some payback against Israel for its hyping the mythical Iran nuclear weapons program.

Israel was the big loser in all this when it showed it did not have the juice to leverage the US into backing Barzani, and just watch him jump over the cliff. There once was a time when the Israelis would not have made such a stupid move.

Do you want to know how I am sure the above is 100% correct? It is because the Israelis have not uttered a word since the Kurdistan independence move fell through, pretending not to know anything about it. Dear Kurdistan, you got suckered by the Zionsts, but don’t feel too bad; we have an army of people in the US who have suffered the same, and who don’t even know it yet! ... Jim W. Dean ]

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The Kurds were clueless as to what a disaster this could have become

–  First published … November 04, 2017

For the moment it looks as if Russian three-dimensional geopolitical chess moves in the turbulent Middle East have thrown a giant monkey wrench into Washington plans to create an independent Kurdistan.

In September the Kurdish population in Iraq voted apparently overwhelmingly for creation of an independent Kurdistan that would control some of the richest oil fields of Iraq in and around Kirkuk as well.

Today, a month later, Massoud Barzani, the US and Israel-backed Kurd leader, is facing a major loss of powers from the Iraq Kurd Parliament. In the middle of the fast-changing developments—whose outcome is decisive to far more than the Middle East—is Russia and the Russian state-owned oil giant, Rosneft.

Contrary to the slick US and EU propaganda that has portrayed former President Massoud Barzani and his Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) as champions of western-style democracy, Barzani is a clan warlord who has ruthlessly pursued ethnic cleansing against a Yazidi and Christian Assyrian minority in order to gain control of oil lands those peoples had historically occupied until 2014.

Israeli Mossad Lt. Colonel Tzuri Sagi in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Barzani clan and his Peshmerga military arm were trained beginning the late 1960s by Israeli Mossad Lt Colonel Tzuri Sagi, initially to go against Saddam Hussein’s rule. Israeli ties to the Barzani clan have remained since.

Since that time the Massoud Barzani clan has built a dictatorial power in the Kurdish region of Iraq using assassination, corruption and since 2014, control of sales of Iraqi oil via Turkey.

Such is Barzani’s mafia-power, despite the fact that his term as President of the Iraqi Kurdistan ended in 2015 and the Kurd regional parliament refused to renew it, he has ruled since without any legal basis by preventing the parliament from convening and formally ousting him. Massoud’s son controls the region’s security council and all all military and civilian intelligence.

Barzani, with open backing of Israel’s Netanyahu, despite major opposition from most of the world, went ahead with a referendum for an independent Kurdish state. It was to have been the beginning of a domino-style reshaping of the geopolitical map of the entire Middle East along the lines of US Army Col. Ralph Peters’ 2006 Armed Forces Journal, “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look.”

Since the British and French carved up the oil-rich lands of the collapsing Ottoman Empire in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during the First World War, the ethnic peoples known as Kurds were divided, deliberately, between the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and of Turkey.

To now create a single Kurdish state would destabilize the entire region and beyond. The issues among the various ethnic Kurds themselves are as well vast with differences in Kurd dialects sometimes being as vast as that between English and modern German. The political differences as well are significant.

Had the US and Israel succeeded in forming an independent Kurdish state in Iraq as a precursor to a Greater Kurdistan of some 23 million people, it would have thrown the entire region from Iran to Iraq to Syria and Turkey into war, the kind of really big war the Pentagon neoconservatives have salivated over since they concocted the fake proof in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Interesting to note, the same California PR firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers, that created Move America Forward (MAF), as a pro-war lobby for the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein, using fabrications to whip up popular support in the US for war in Iraq, is the PR firm used since 2005 by the Barzani clan to promote the idea in the US that Kirkuk oil should be part of an independent Kurdistan.

One month later…

One month later and how the Iraqi Kurd landscape has changed. In a blitz military action that was clearly supported by a strong anti-Barzani faction of the Kurds, the Baghdad army retook Kirkuk and the key oilfields occupied since 2014 illegally by Barzani’s forces.

This meant that the financial key to Barzani and Tel Aviv’s “independent” Iraqi Kurdistan, the oil revenues from Kirkuk and Bai Hasaan fields of around 1.2 million barrels per day are no longer in the hands of the Barzani mafia.

After Barzani’s gang took control of the Kirkuk oil-rich region in 2014, driving hundreds of thousands of ethnic Yazidis and Assyrian Christians from their homes, US oil interests helped to build Barzani’s power. Rex Tillerson as CEO of ExxonMobil defied the Baghdad government and invested in the Kurd region of Iraq along with Chevron after 2014 as a clear part of the US preparation for an independent oil-rich Kurdistan.

Amidst the chaos of the conquests of ISIS across Iraq and Syria after 2014, a conquest that was initially facilitated by Barzani in his bid to grab Kirkuk oil, Barzani’s clan made an illegal deal with the family of Turkish President Erdogan to sell the oil via Turkish pipelines where it was sold on to Israel earning Barzani’s clan billions of dollars.

By August 2015 the Jerusalem Post reported that as much as 77% of Israel oil imports were coming from Kurd-occupied Kirkuk region, via pipeline from Turkish Ceyhan to the Israel oil port at Ashkelon.

Following Barzani’s bombastic declaration of a 93% independence referendum yes vote, the Iraq government, as did others including that of Turkey and Iran, declared the vote illegal. Baghdad swiftly moved to impose sanctions on the Iraqi Kurdish region. Erdogan’s Turkey, fearing a spread of Kurdish independence to Turkish Kurds, a significant minority bordering Syria and Iraq, cut off Kurd pipeline flows.

Then Baghdad held secret talks with the opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of the recently deceased Jalal Talabani. PUK had opposed the idea of referendum, and it was their soldiers who largely controlled Kirkuk.

According to Bafel Talabani, the son of recently-deceased Jalal Talabani, just before the Iraqi forces, in a joint operation of the Iraqi army and the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militias were moving to retake Kirkuk, a deal was reached with Baghdad to peacefully withdraw PUK-controlled Peshmerga forces from the city, opening the way for dialogue and saving thousands of lives. Talabani called the decision of Barzani to go ahead with a referendum, despite clear warnings of the consequences, a “colossal mistake.”

On October 29, Massoud Barzani announced he would step down as (illegitimate) President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, acknowledging the utter failure of the Israel-backed referendum ploy.

Russian Oil Geopolitics

A crucial if little-noted factor in making the strategic shift in the geopolitical energy field of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish regions in the last months has been Russia, specifically Russia’s giant state-owned Rosneft.

Surprising many, just after the September 25 Iraqi Kurd referendum vote, Rosneft CEO, Igor Sechin announced that Rosneft had agreed to buy control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s main oil pipeline, boosting its investment in the autonomous region to $4 billion according to remarks by Sechin on October 18 at a conference this author attended in Italy two days before the signing of the deal.

Rosneft plans to increase pipeline capacity to 950,000 bpd. Under the agreement Rosneft will control the majority 60% with the rest held by the current operator, the Kurdish KAR Group in Erbil. In addition to investing $3.5 billion into the Kurdish pipeline, Rosneft earlier this year lent the regional Kurdish government $1.2 billion to ease a budget crisis, making Russia far and away the largest foreign investor in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

The same day, October 19, the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), strongly backed by US weapons and training, in the ongoing war in Syria’s oil and gas-rich Deir Ezzor province, made a surprise deal to turn over the rich gas field to troops of the Russian Ground Forces, according to a report in the Beirut Almasdar News.

The report that the Kurdish SDF agreed to turn over Al-Tabiya gas field it had just taken from ISIS control on September 23 suggests more than a minor role of Russia in both Syrian and in Iraqi oil and gas developments as well, of course, in Kurdish developments. The Al-Tabiya gas field, formerly operated by Conoco of the US had the largest capacity of any field in Syria, capable of producing 13 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.

The Almasdar News report states that the Russians will turn control back to the Syrian Damascus government. The deal followed secret talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East in the self-declared Kurdish autonomous zone of Rojava to meet with Kurdish and Syrian leaders in the northern city of Qamishli.

On October 25 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, a significant thaw in their relations. The US-Israeli-backed Kurdistan independence ploy of Barzani has completely backfired. Again, Washington geopolitical stupidity and neoconservative war mania has driven hitherto geopolitical foes to cooperate in ways unimaginable just three years ago.

Oil wars are always lurking in the background

Russia has shrewdly played a game of geopolitical chess. Moscow knows that if Rosneft holds the trump card in the Iraqi Kurdish energy economy, the Kurds have no option to get their oil out but via Turkey.

Two years ago, before Erdogan offered a rapprochement to Russia over the shooting of a Russian jet over Syria, Turkey was financing ISIS against the regime of Bashar al Assad and at the same time reportedly facilitating export sales of oil from Syria via a Turkish state company.

Qatar was spending billions of dollars to finance Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and other Salafist terror groups in Syria. Now Turkey has to deal with Rosneft for Iraqi gas and with Damascus where Bashar al Assad remains firmly entrenched with Russian support. And Turkey seems to be doing just that, one reason for the growing hostility between Ankara and Washington.

Further setback for Washington is the development around Qatar. Since Washington and Israel goaded the incalculable Saudis last summer into the laughable idea of creating an “Arab NATO” of Sunni oil states (plus Israel), aimed at Iran, that “Arab NATO” as its first act imposed an economic embargo against former Gulf Cooperation Council ally and Muslim Brotherhood-backed Qatar.

Qatar was targeted by the Saudis because they had openly sought the cooperation of former arch foe Iran in building a common gas route to the EU. Now Qatar is working with Iran, Turkey, Russia and China in a new geopolitical alignment opposed by Saudi Arabia.

Russia, placing herself in the midst of the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria has managed a brilliant political coup against the Anglo-American and Israeli designs for a Greater Kurdistan and a NATO-controlled Greater Middle East.

Checkmate! Washington. You have just lost the Middle East. The unfolding of further events with Russia and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, are just a matter of time, as the unprecedented recent visit of the Saudi King to Moscow to ask for Russian weaponry suggests.

The neocons around D.J. Trump and his neophyte son-in-law, 36-year-old “Senior Advisor” Jared Kushner, and the increasingly pathetic ExxonMobil Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are a sad bunch. The world has tired of their wars of destruction. It’s time to build up new.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Russia wins the 3D chess game, like Kirk always beat Spock with his”most unusual approach” at winning. McCain, McConnell, Graham, and McDonald’s clown in chief were easy marks. The Heinz K thing with Putin, geopolitics makes for high strangeness on the surface. Our house needs needs deep cleaning beyond just the criminals who get picked for us to vote for office.

  2. “The world has tired of their wars of destruction. It’s time to build up new”.
    Well Mr. Engdahl I hope you’re right, and I think you are. But we should never under estimate the criminal mind. Like a wounded cornered lion the criminal West may see their only way out is to kick through the front door, and that front door opens is a major war with Iran. A war designed to change the game board, consequences be damned. If that happens I feel the US will “commit” to winning, as it will not, and cannot accept another defeat. What would people say.

  3. And you don’t hear a single peep out of Tillerson, Trump or Nuttybombyou. Not a peep. It’s as if the whole charade never happened and of course in their minds, it didn’t.
    The big loosers are of course Washington and israel which means that Exxon-Mobil and BP won’t be able to buy cheap discounted oil from Erdogan and israel anymore. Have you noticed another rise is gasoline prices lately? Any connection to this? Gas prices nearly hit the $3.00 mark as of last week up here in Northern Michigan.
    Barzani should now take his leave and retire somewhere, like Monaco or the Riviera where he can rub elbows with the rich and famous. Or maybe he can purchase one of Trump’s condos in Florida. Who knows, maybe he and his family are making a deal with Humpty Trumpty right now. Imagine, an independent Kurdistan in South Florida.
    Watching israel and Washington loose this one makes my day. Another egg on that howler monkey in the White Houses’ face.

    • Yes, the Zios want their part to be forgotten, to they lay low after disasters like this. With the airways and borders blocked the Zios are boxed out for now. And with Baghdad taking control of the airports Israel will not longer be able to shift arms and personnel in with ease.

    • “The big loosers are of course Washington and israel which means that Exxon-Mobil and BP won’t be able to buy cheap discounted oil from Erdogan and israel anymore. ”

      Good point. As a result of this, should we expect to see increased efforts to overthrow Maduro and steal Venezuela’s oil? In Canada, I noticed our Bronfman backed puppet minister endorsed the US narrative in late September by imposing sanctions on Venezuela. More recently, he’s been voicing concern over what he called the denial of human rights in Venezuela. A pretext in the making. Without the exploitation of foreign oil reserves, I can’t see how the petro-dollar can survive.

  4. Russia should now use its intelligence to “break the back” of the endless fake borrowed and printed money supply of the U.S. which permits all these shenanigans over there. This would force the attention of the criminals in the U.S. to be directed elsewhere. This virtually endless money supply is what permits all these illegal criminal acts by our government all over the planet every day. This is too easy for them.

    • All countries of the world must join hands and embargo the dollar, boycott it to reduce it to rubble. This is the legal peaceful means to deal with unindicted international war criminals in the U.S. and Israel. The U.S. is way over extended today. The bigger they are the harder they fall. I hate to make recommendations against my own country but we no longer have a representative democracy. The criminals who have hi jacked America from Israel don’t care what any of us lowly citizens think unless we support their criminal activities. The ignorant fools running our defacto dictatorship have no clue just how close we are to economic collapse. Look at the inflated stock market and zero interest rates. “Free Money” for government to do as it pleases.

    • Look at what a complete joke the current “tax bill” negotiations are in Congress as usual. What a total farce. They act as if there is no public debt at all. They don’t care. Why not just eliminate all income taxes like we once had before 1913? This would really aid the economy wouldn’t it? These ignorant fools think they can fool history. Well they and we are going to get a big surprise. It can and will happen without warning or notice. Banks will close as in 1929. Your life savings will be confiscated without permission. Anarchy will result. Just watch and wait. Do you think any of these corrupt idiot fools in Congress are smart enough to dig us out of this impending disaster which THEY created? Answer: No obviously they are not. This is the silence before the storm. Our country is an unindicted international war criminal and disaster to its own citizens today. Shame shame shame… a thousand times for selling out the Founders and our Constitution.

  5. This is a temporary setback — Washingon and its Kurds will be back.

    The reality is that Kurdistan is landlocked — block the borders and hit the refineries at Bazian and Kalak and the tanks and trucks stop rolling. The Kudrs/Americans stopped before the refineries were hit. Round One of the Kurdistan-Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey war is over.

    But build a buffer state / corridor in Eastern Syria and or Western Iraq to connect Jordan with Kurdistan and it’s time for Round Two. The added bonus is that it blocks access to Syria and Lebanon from Iran. This is what the Americans are doing nbow — building bases along the Iraq Syria border to create a corridor between Jordan and Kurdistan. If the Russians respond by also building bases in this border area, it will stop the flow from Jordan to Kurdistan, but it will also stop the flow from Iran to Syria.

    This war is far from over and Kurdistan is not really pacified, despite appearances. The US wants to use Kurdistan as a sort of Afghanistan on Iran’s West, disrupting all four surrounding countries. The “Silk Road” so-called is stealthily progressing — there is now a viable rail line from China to Iran via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. A connection to Iraq’s system and onwards to Syria is under construction. There is an Iranian military base going online near Damascus and an Iranian naval base being planned for the Syrian Mediterranean coast. The Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese gas and electric networks are being joined up and synchronised. Washington would very much like to block all this before it gets out of hand — there could easily be a trade route and energy network between West Asia and China and Russia if this keeps going and they will want to disrupt it.

    Kurdistan will continue to be a problem. It’s not over yet.

    • The Zagros Muntains follow a fault line. The “Iran Tectonic Plate” is rising a little each year. There are regularly earthquakes in that area.

  6. I was able to buy gasoline for $1.45 a few years ago when the middle east was under the greatest turmoil with ISIS at its peak of power.

    It turns out I was LIED TO all my life, Middle Eastern turmoil actually DROPS the price of oil.

    So by all means, lets create another country in the middle east, carved out of the territory of OTHERS. Be sure to give them military capabilities right away…and by all means, let them have the blessings of Israel.

    …gas is getting too expensive./s.

    • When ISIS — KRG is selling oil for $10 a barrel because they are stealing it and thus their production cost is close to zero, and tankers are loading up in Libya and leaving without paying, then the Arabs, Iranians and Russians have to accept a lower price for theirs. “We’ll give you $30 or $40, but that’s because we like you — We’re getting it in Turkey for $10”.

    • Peter Johnson ++ IF the Tankers are Filling up in Libya Without major Payment Then Again its the Oil Selling Corporations that are Profitting massively coz Their Still Selling to People at the last legal Price . Still costs around buck a litre . where are Price of barrel went from about $60 to $10 , note the difference in Petroleum buying Price

    • Echoes:

      Exactly, it brings down the oil companies’ input price, but it doesn’t necessarily bring down what we pay at the pump, which is driven by what they can charge us, rather than what it costs them.

    • Actually these corporaions been getting free tankerfuls since the fall of saddam in 2003 , oil & blood been dirt cheap since 2003 specially

  7. Jim, I agree with you about the Barzani Kurds complaining bitterly that Washington did not support them. From what I can see, Washington, ie the Trump admin, did NOT support Barzani’s move at all. But as far as I can tell, the Bush faction did, as well as the usual suspects like McCain. And I believe that Kissinger was advising Mr. Kushner, so the push can really be seen to have come from Kissinger. They didn’t get far, obviously.

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