Military Review

Alexander Khramchikhin: The invasion never noticed

While the leading media on all continents habitually judged, they rowed about the course of the civil war in Libya and the Syrian civil strife, terrorist attacks, protests, battles in other countries of the Greater Middle East, southeastern Turkey and northeastern Iraq. and the New World did not pay even a minimum of attention.

And already against the background of the explosion in Oslo and the mass execution of people near the Norwegian capital, financial and political battles in Washington about the incident in the global information space in general there is not the slightest mention. The political elite of the states - leaders of the international community did not say a word either.

Meanwhile, the worst battles in the last three years between the units of the Turkish army and the units of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), in which at least 14 Turkish soldiers and seven rebels from the PKK, have been deployed. At the same time, the grouping of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized on the territory of Iraq three militant camps of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK, PSGK). It is very close to the PKK, and some experts even believe that the PKK and the Kurdistan Free Life Party are a single organization, the units of which operate in both Turkey and Iran.

The IRGC used heavy artillery and helicopters against the Kurds. According to his command, the corps lost only four people (one killed and three wounded), but the Kurds claim that the number of Iranians who have just died reaches 150. Moreover, the PJAK managed to sabotage Iran, as a result of which the general of the IRGC Abbas Asemi was killed.

A look into the past

It is difficult to discuss this situation without historical excursus.

As is known, the Kurdish question is one of the most painful in the Middle East and even all of world politics. After all, the Kurds are the largest nation on the planet (their total number is 30 – 40 million people) without their own statehood. Not less than 90 percent live compactly in a geographic area called Kurdistan and located at the junction of the territories of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In these countries, there are respectively from 11 to 16, approximately 5, 4 – 6 and about 2 to millions of Kurds.

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, almost all of Kurdistan (with the exception of its Iranian part) was part of the Ottoman Empire. But its collapse due to defeat in the First World War did not give the Kurds anything. They launched an active struggle for independence and in 1927 – 1930 even created the Ararat Republic in the east of Turkey, and in 1946, the Mekhabad Republic in the west of Iran. However, both state formations were eliminated by Turkish and Iranian troops.

Alexander Khramchikhin: The invasion never noticed

The new upsurge of the Kurdish liberation movement was in the 60 – 70s. So, in Iran, after the anti-Shah revolution in 1979, the Kurds briefly took control of the Iranian part of Kurdistan, and only the IRGC restored Tehran’s power here. In Iraq, they for many years continued armed resistance and in 1975, they gained formal autonomy.

During the Iran-Iraq war (1980 – 1988), and Tehran and Baghdad tried to use the “enemy” Kurds for their own purposes. It cannot be said that they have achieved considerable success in this, however, in order to suppress the next Kurdish uprising, the regime of Saddam Hussein needed to resort to this genocide (up to the use of chemical weapons against civilians).

In Turkey, where the use of the Kurdish language, such concepts as “Kurdistan” and “Kurds” (called official propaganda “feral mountain Turks”), was forbidden since 30's, the PKK led by Abdullah Ocalan fought for their independence. The party was helped by Damascus, its leadership was based on Syrian territory. However, in the 1998 year, Ankara, under the threat of a military invasion, demanded that Syria drive out the rebel leaders, and that, having lost its patron in Moscow, was forced to submit. In 1999, Turkish special forces kidnapped Ocalan in Kenya, and he is now serving a life sentence on Imrali Island in the Sea of ​​Marmara.

The aggression against Kuwait turned to Iraq in 1991 a crushing defeat against a coalition in which the United States was the main force. However, the Americans, who were then considering Baghdad as a counterbalance to Tehran, did not want to kill Saddam Hussein’s regime. As a result, he soon managed to put down the Shiite uprisings in the south and all the same Kurds in the north of the country. True, the West decided to somehow alleviate the fate of the insurgents and forbade the Iraqi Air Force to fly over the southern and northern regions of its own state. It did not help the Shiites, but the Kurds, who had strong armed units, managed to survive. As a result, Iraqi Kurdistan became a semi-independent region where the Kurdistan Democratic Party Masud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani shared power.

Naturally, the Kurdish independence movements in Iraq, Iran and Turkey, as a rule, were also viewed as a struggle for a united Kurdistan. For a long time, Turkish Kurds were considered leaders in it - both in total number and in strength of armed formations. However, after their Iraqi tribesmen actually created their own republic, only formally subordinate to Baghdad, it was she who became the center of attraction for all Kurds. Especially after the short, victorious campaign conducted in the spring of 2003 by the Americans and their closest allies in Mesopotamia.

The Kurds have provided the most active assistance to US troops. Since Ankara this time refused to help Washington, the 173-I Airborne Brigade of the US Army launched an offensive from the north against Baghdad, relying on the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdish troops (Peshmerga) entered the capital of Iraq, along with American troops and participated in the establishment of order in the chaos-ridden city.

Against a common enemy?

In 2004 – 2007, when Iraq was the war of all against all, the Kurdish “autonomy” was an oasis of calm and loyalty. After all, state and law enforcement agencies have long existed here and functioned quite successfully. Iraqi Kurdistan is essentially completely free of any influence from Baghdad. For example, possessing significant reserves of oil, the Kurds sell "black gold" directly, without asking permission in the center. And at the same time, Jalal Talabani, in accordance with the new principle of separation of powers in Iraq, took over as president of the country. This reduced the level of separatism in Iraqi Kurdistan, since it already achieved independence and also received significant powers in terms of managing the whole of Iraq.

But then new problems for Iraqi Kurds came from Turkey. From here, most of the PKK formations migrated to them. Ankara, of course, did not want the militants to feel at home on the south-eastern Turkish frontiers, making periodic forays through the cordon, and in 2008, they moved troops into the adjacent territory. Under these conditions, Iraqi Kurds not only did not support the blood brothers, but also began to help the Turks. It was explained quite simply - Talabani and Barzani (President of Iraqi Kurdistan) did not want to lose everything they had achieved over the past few years under blows from the north. In addition, it is likely that they simply decided to get rid of competitors in the competition for leadership in “Greater Kurdistan”.

Finally, it is possible that Washington has affected the situation in the region. She put the Americans in an extremely difficult position, because they had to maneuver between two allies - the Kurds and the Turks. And the United States did not intend to quarrel with either of the others. Therefore, the White House and the State Department tried to ensure that the Iraqi Kurds retained the maximum degree of autonomy, but did not try to destroy either Turkey or Iraq.

Ankara, under strong EU pressure in recent years, has softened its policy towards the Kurds. Since January 1, the first state-run Kurdish TV channel has started broadcasting on 2009. In the summer of 2010, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu used the word "Kurdistan" for the first time in an official interview to refer to northern Iraq. Therefore, the recent battles were a certain surprise.

There are several completely different explanations for the current flare-up situation. The Kurds themselves say that the IRGC is breaking through a corridor from Iran to Syria through northern Iraq to help this country in the event of its war with Turkey (for the possibility of such a development, see the article “If Ankara gets angry ...” in No. 24 “MIC”). But this reason looks very doubtful. If they are in Tehran and will think to support Damascus, nothing will prevent Iranian troops from attacking Turkey from their territory. This is even more convenient, because then the Turkish group, deployed against Syria, will receive a blow to the rear.

In fact, the explanation may be just the opposite.

After the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party came to power in Turkey in 2002, Ankara markedly changed its foreign policy course. In particular, its relations with Tehran have dramatically improved. A very acceptable option is to assume that Iran and Turkey have agreed on joint actions against the PKK / PSGK in order to maximally weaken, if not completely defeat, the most radical of the Kurdish groups. This is especially relevant in light of the upcoming US withdrawal from Iraq. After that, the de facto independent Iraqi Kurdistan will become the center of gravity of all the Kurds who are tempted to realize the idea of ​​a large independent Kurdistan. In addition, it is quite obvious that the Iraqi security forces will not have enough potential to curb the Kurdish "freemen": they would not be allowed to resume the Sunni-Shiite confrontation. That is why the neighbors need to solve the Kurdish question themselves and the sooner the better.

Exploration by battle

In light of this, the behavior of Washington is very symptomatic. Its main enemy (Iran) invaded a country for which the United States is directly responsible (Iraq). Moreover, attacked the best friends of the Americans - the Kurds. However, the United States not only did not throw its army into battle, but did not even protest. This is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the events.

To explain such an amazing passivity of Americans could be the fact that they don’t feel sorry for the PKK / PSZhK, because these organizations in the USA themselves are declared terrorist. However, the resistance to the Iranians was provided not only by the PSGK, but also by the Kurdish forces in general. And the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan has officially announced that its formations are fighting the aggressor, who is seeking to destabilize the entire region.

It is likely that the Americans are already affected by the “effect of care”. It is well known: if a great power decides on the withdrawal of troops from a developing country, then for purely political reasons it turns out to be irreversible. Moreover, even at the stage of leaving, military personnel are almost completely withdrawn from what is happening in the region being abandoned, and enter into battle only in the case of a direct attack on them. So it was in Vietnam, when it was left first by the French, and then by the Americans, in Algeria, which granted independence to de Gaulle, in Afghanistan, from which the Soviet limited contingent returned to the USSR. There is no particular doubt that a similar effect is now taking place in Iraq (and will soon spread to Afghanistan).

Plus, it is obvious that the United States is simply not ready for war with Iran. Indeed, in this case, it is necessary not only to stop the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but also to return them back. This will take a very significant time (while the Iranian invasion of Iraq is already evident) will require huge expenditures, which is especially undesirable for America, which stopped a step away from default.

We must also not forget that in the event of a war between the United States and Iran, the troops of the Western coalition in Afghanistan will be held hostage, which in principle will not be able to fight the regular army due to the lack of tanks, air defense systems, completely insufficient amount of artillery and shock aviation. Yes, and in conditions of a noticeable deterioration in relations with Pakistan, which is able to simply block the transit of the Americans. Therefore, Washington clearly hoped that the Iranian invasion would be quick and local, and therefore it could be "not noticed."

Most likely this time it will happen. But the problem is not going anywhere. The potentials of the armed forces of Iraq and Iran are not comparable. Tehran at least sympathizes with some Iraqi Shiites. Therefore, Iranian troops will be able to invade Iraq completely freely, and not only in Kurdistan. Therefore, it is appropriate to assume that the actions of the IRGC are at the same time a kind of “reconnaissance in force”, a test of the American reaction.

Interestingly, we see almost the same thing in Afghanistan. After Obama's announcement about the withdrawal of US troops, the Taliban, without waiting for 2014 of the year, began to mass-shoot representatives of the Kabul regime, without being embarrassed by the presence of the Americans.

Apparently, the US is seriously leaving the Middle East (additional evidence of this is their actual withdrawal from the Libyan operation of NATO, which because of this threatens to end in a shameful failure). The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost them more than six thousand dead soldiers and cost over a trillion dollars (“thanks to” Afghanistan, both of these numbers are growing today). To continue this epic for Washington does not make sense. Americans have long and systematically reduced the volume of oil exports from the Persian Gulf. If in 2001, this region accounted for 23,26 percent of US hydrocarbon imports, in 2010 — 14,53 percent. Eloquent trend. For reference: over the same period, Russia's share in American oil imports increased from 0,76 to 5,2 percent. Much more "black gold" get from here the EU, China, Japan, India.

Reinforcing Iran is absolutely inevitable. The question of an American strike on it must be considered closed in the foreseeable future, and for Tel Aviv it is an unsolvable problem because of the large distance separating the Jewish state from the Islamic Republic. Despite the power of the Israel Defense Forces, it lacks the strength and resources to "remotely defeat" the Iranians (if only because of the lack of strategic aviation, cruise missiles and the lack of refueling aircraft).

But Iran will not go on a suicide attack by Israel. Tehran will "extrude" the Arabs and Kurds, who will most certainly want to return the Americans. But Washington, it is possible, will refuse for a variety of reasons of a political, economic and military nature. The United States in the coming years may begin to go into isolation, in which they stayed before Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 with a short break, which fell to the end of the First World War.

Is there a new candidate for the role of "chief" in the Middle East instead of the United States. Yes. This is China. Beijing is even more desirable for local regimes than Washington, because it does not stick with various nonsense such as democracy and human rights. By the way, at the beginning of the Iranian invasion of Iraq, the leadership of the latter was visiting the Chinese capital ...
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  1. Draz
    Draz 10 August 2011 10: 13 New
    So, comrades, the light is already visible at the end of the period of US hegemony, a chain reaction has begun with Libya. The whole Middle East is on fire and part of Europe too. More or less stable situation in Russia, China, India, Germany.
    With the departure of the United States from a region where, oddly enough, they were the guarantor of peace, the massacre for domination between Arabs (Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds) will begin and pressure on Israel will intensify. The US presence is likely to be nominal. Let's see what happens next, the USA either leaves or remains, but then the situation in its own country worsens.

    No matter how monstrous it may seem, but I am for the Arabs to start cutting each other.
    1. jamert
      jamert 10 August 2011 12: 31 New
      And me too.
      The states will leave the Near and Middle East in 2013-14. From Europe - to 2017-18. And lock on to internal problems. By the way, today I learned about the reduction of aircraft strike groups from 11 to 9.
      And ahead is the struggle for hegemony in Asia between India and China.