- Created: Thursday, 08 August 2013 15:27
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 234 August/September 2013
An estimated 1,000 people were killed in May in the sectarian violence that is escalating throughout Iraq. Former Iraqi security adviser Dr Mowaffak al-Rubaie warned: ‘If we go on like this we will have civil war and then partition – partition of Iraq would be as bloody as the partition of India.’ Both will have been the consequence of imperialist intervention and occupation.
While much of the violence is around Baghdad and the south of the country, it is the Kurdish north that poses the greatest immediate challenge to the unity of the country. Ignoring the central government, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has unilaterally signed oil contracts worth $20bn with over 50 companies, including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Total and the Russian Gazprom. A pipeline delivering 300,000 barrels per day from the high quality Taq Taq field to Turkey is due to open shortly. The pipeline is a joint venture by the Turkish company Genel, run by former BP boss Tony Hayward (of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill infamy) and the Chinese company Sinopec. Security at the oil field is provided by a British company using ex-special force mercenaries from South Africa.
The US government is opposed to the Kurdish ventures but China is investing widely in Iraqi oil, accepting lower profit margins and providing management and technical expertise and so gaining an advantage over western companies. Turkey, which includes a Kurdish population of around 16 million, is forging close links with the KRG. After signing a peace agreement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), guerrilla forces have reportedly left Turkey and moved to Iraq. Consequently, Turkish security forces have increased their presence in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, establishing military fortifications and checkpoints. On 28 June, Turkish forces opened fire on Kurdish protestors in Lice, Diyarbakir, killing a teenager and wounding nine others. Nazif Atman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party said ‘People here feel like they are under siege. The military controls are reminiscent of war.’ Turkey hopes to make the region a special production zone.
The Kurdish homeland was divided in the carve-up of the region by British and French imperialism after the First World War. There are also millions of Kurds in Iran and Syria. The Iranian government has already objected to the transfer of PKK fighters to Iraq, fearing they will incite the Kurds in Iran, while Kurds in Syria have taken control of their own areas. The aftermath of the imperialist war on Iraq is engulfing the whole region.