An ongoing dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Federal Government threatens to squander U.S. gains and interests and Iraq, The Soufan Center warns.
Tensions have skyrocketed since Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for independence in a late September referendum. The referendum was held in disputed territorial areas sparking a military operation by the Iraqi Federal Government in mid-October to reclaim the areas. Periodic clashes have broken out between the two forces in recent days leaving the U.S. in a strategic predicament.
The U.S. supports both the Iraqi Federal Government and the Kurdistan regional government in the fight against the Islamic State. The fight against ISIS however has largely wound down since the terrorist group is controlling only three percent of Iraq, and an offensive was launched Thursday to finally rout them out.
“The U.S. finds itself in a no-win situation regarding both the ongoing fighting and national tensions in Kurdistan,” The Soufan Center warns, explaining that “for 13 years, the U.S. has held to a strategic goal of a unified federal Iraq with meaningful autonomy for the Kurds, who have been a more reliable and effective partner for U.S. regional interests than the Baghdad government.”
U.S. efforts to preserve a unified Iraq and quash the referendum, however, “has essentially squandered the good will and support of the Kurds for a strategic goal of a strong Baghdad-centric country that will likely not act in the U.S. national interest,” the intelligence group elaborates.
Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon noted that the squabbles are distracting from the fight against ISIS. These disruptions include the stopping of heavy military equipment shipments to the U.S. forces in Syria.
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