The Iraqi army is moving into the oil rich city of Kirkuk and Kurdish peshmerga forces are fleeing the city along with 25,000 Kurds, who were mostly shipped into the city to bolster its Kurdish population. The inevitable in Iraq is happening. The Kurds of Iraq who did not suffice with their massive and disproportionate gains over the years may see all of it evaporate because of the greed of their leaders.
The constitution of Iraq was imposed on the Shiite and Sunni Arabs in 2004 when the Kurds, backed by the United States, had the upper hand and the Arabs were in total disarray. So, the Kurds embedded their gains in the constitution of Iraq, that did not only allow Kurdish to become the second official language of the country but it also created the Kurdistan region of Iraq and its Kurdish run government. But the Kurds wanted more. They wanted the oil wealth of Kirkuk, they wanted to control several other areas in the north of Iraq under the pretext that these were disputed lands.
They moved truckloads of Kurds into Kirkuk; they controlled the city assembly and imposed their will on the Arabs and Turkmens. So much so that in time their rule turned into utter arrogance and they started treating Kirkuk as a part of the northern Kurdish entity.
But in time the Arabs and especially the Shiite majority of Iraq managed to get their acts together and hit back. They started denying funds promised to the Kurds as part of the oil revenues of Iraq. They piled pressure on the Kurds so much so that they pushed Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani to take extreme steps like the independence referendum. The whole world, as well as the Baghdad government, rejected the referendum, yet, the Kurds had the audacity to call for the same referendum in Kirkuk, a colossal mistake.
Turkey, a close friend of the Kurds of Iraq, pleaded with Barzani not to hold the independence referendum and asked him not to alter the status of Kirkuk. But Barzani turned a deaf ear to the warnings of friends and today he is faced with an impossible situation. He went ahead with this extremely dangerous and illegal referendum. He did not only anger the Baghdad government but he antagonized Turkey and Iran, the two major powers of the region.
Iraq closed the airspace of the Kurdish region to international air traffic and thus all flights to and from Irbil and Sulaymaniyah have grinded to a halt. Now Iraq is pilling the sanctions on the Kurds and they are helpless.
The Iraqis gave Barzani 24 hours to pull out of Kirkuk and hand over the oilfields and military garrisons to the forces of the central government. But Barzani, hoping the United States would come to his rescue, defied the calls. The bitter blow to Barzani came Monday morning as Iraqi forces smashed the peshmerga defenses and moved into the strategic locations of Kirkuk. The peshmerga forces were humiliated. They withdrew and are now fleeing the region. The PKK terrorists that the Kurds brought into Kirkuk have also vanished into thin air.
This is an utter and total defeat for Barzani. He has placed his people into this dreadful situation. Bafel Talabani, the son of late Jalal Talabani, had opposed the referendum and had warned the Kurds were heading for disaster. The humiliation of Kirkuk means a death warrant for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Now Masoud Barzani has to live with his mistake.