Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the president of the now defunct Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq has gambled and seems to have lost.
He felt that he could be an opportunist and create an independent Kurdish state out of the current turmoil in Iraq, and despite repeated warnings from his friends like Turkey, he went his own way and is now paying for his grand mistake. He even told people around him that he had Turkey's backing for the illegitimate independence referendum he staged last Monday, despite repeated warnings by Ankara that this move would be a catastrophe for both Barzani and the Kurds.
Now with the so-called referendum over, Barzani and his region face total isolation, with Iraq closing the airspace of northern Iraq and Turkey, and Iran suspending all flights to and from the region. More sanctions are in the pipeline. Turkey and Iraq have agreed that the oil extracted from the Kurdish areas are the property of Iraq and will from now on be treated as such. That means Turkey can sell the Iraqi oil that originates from the Kurdish areas but the revenue will go to Baghdad.
We have been warning for months that the Kurds, who have made tremendous gains in the past 14 years, became too arrogant and did not remain satisfied with what they had and wanted more. Now they are facing the threat of losing all those gains. It is clear that Barzani hoped the support from Americans and other European powers would help him ride through the storm created by the illegitimate referendum move and thus bring independence. Once again the Barzanis forgot the numerous times in history they were let down by the U.S., as well as other powers, as well as Israel.
The elite Kurds have now realized that Barzani misled them in believing there would be outside support for this misplaced adventure. They are seeing their airports closed, they are witnessing the first signals of total isolation creeping into their region and of course they are blaming Barzani and his administration for this gross misjudgment.
So what is left is for Barzani is to retire and open the way for the creation of a new leadership in the north of Iraq. In fact the so-called referendum has shown that the Kurds now do not recognize the constitution of Iraq and thus they have ended the legal existence of the Kurdistan region of Iraq and its administration. In fact, this was a nonentity from the very start. That so-called administration composed of a makeshift cabinet of dozens of ministers from various parties that hardly held a cabinet session or worked in harmony. Irbil and Duhok were effectively run by the KDP and Sulaymaniyah by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Goran or the Movement for Change. There were no administrative unity and the so-called Kurdish parliament was nonfunctional. In fact the Kurdish parliament was closed for two years and no one even felt its absence.
It is time Iraq rewrote its constitution, created 18 self-governing provinces including Kirkuk, Mosul, Irbil and Sulaymaniyah with their own provincial assemblies and establish proper rights and concessions for the Sunni Arabs, the Kurds and the Turkmens.