The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region will meet Turkish leaders on Monday as Ankara keeps a close eye on moves for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan amid the chaos in its conflict-torn neighbour.
Massud Barzani is due to meet President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara in separate meetings from 1100 GMT.
The visit comes as lightening gains by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) — formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — in Iraq have alarmed countries in the region and sparked calls for Kurdish autonomy to counter the radical Islamist threat.
In an interview this month, Barzani said Iraq’s Kurds would hold an independence referendum within months, adding that the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively divided by IS’s actions in Iraq.
Turkey, which has its own Kurdish minority, has said it is committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq and officially remains opposed to the notion of Kurdish independence.
But in recent years, Ankara has enjoyed burgeoning trade ties with Iraq’s Kurdistan region while Erdogan has also moved to end the conflict with Kurdish rebels at home and grant Turkish Kurds greater rights.
Barzani's timing here is a shrewd move.
An independent Kurdistan would solidify it's hold over its oil revenue,and remove the shakles of a compltely, pathologically disfunctional government in Baghdad.
It's Peshmerga fighters have the capabilities and discipline to hold off the ISIS/ISIL militants, and the Kurd's cultural cohesion - and history - make this an opportunity worth seizing for the Kurdish people.
The rest of Iraq may already be lost; its military cannot hold against the invaders, and the US government doesn't want to go back in militarily in an election year. Unfortunately for the US government, when Baghdad falls (and this appears to be only a matter of time), the US will have lost Iraq twice militarily, and once, completely economically, because it will have no say in to whom Iraq's oil will be sold, or in what national currency.