Today’s Independence Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan

As you read this Iraqi Kurds are voting on whether to declare independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. While a number of analysts, including me, have been forecasting and predicting that Iraq’s Kurds would declare independence over whatever areas where under their control after the fight against ISIS is completed, today’s vote is not the same thing. The fight against ISIS is not complete. Holding the referendum now is somewhere between provocative and naive. Here’s what Masoud Barzani, the President of the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan, had to say in a recent interview:

A long time ago I reached this conclusion that it was necessary to hold a referendum and let our people decide, and for a long time I have held the belief that Baghdad is not accepting real, meaningful partnership with us. We don’t want to accept being their subordinate. This is in order to prevent a bigger problem, to prevent a bloody war, and the deterioration of the security of the whole region.

That’s why we want to have this referendum — to ask our people what they want. This will help us prevent any possible future instability or bloody fighting that will follow if the situation continues. You know what the security situation in this area is like. When the people decide in this referendum, we expect all the other parties to respect the wishes and peaceful democratic decisions of the people of Kurdistan.

To answer your question why now, previously also at many stages we wanted to hold it. But because of the overall situation, the context in the area, because of other developments, we have been postponing it. But if we postpone this longer it’s not going to beneficial to our people, it will have a negative impact on the destiny of our people. So that’s why the timing right now is the best for holding this referendum.

One of the major issues in play here is who controls Kirkuk. When my teammates and I conducted our tribal study and social history in 2008, with in depth interviews of over 50 sheikhs, imams, political, and business leaders in central Iraq (predominantly from Mada’ain Qada, but also including interviewees from across Baghdad Province, and a few from Diyala and Wassit Provinces) Kurdish independence was only brought up by about five or six of our interview subjects. But when it was brought up we were told that any attempt to declare an independent Kurdistan, especially if the attempt included taking Kirkuk, would be unacceptable. We were specifically told be several sheikhs that this was one issue that would unite Sunni and Shi’a Iraqi Arabs and could lead to an Iraqi-Arab versus Iraqi-Kurdish civil war.

Another important issue is going to be Turkey’s response. Erdogan, as everyone one of his predecessors was, has been adamant that an independent Kurdistan on his border is unacceptable. In order to shore up his own internal politics, as well as to prevent Turkey’s Kurdish minority from trying to break away and unite with their Iraqi cousins, Erdogan will have to take action if an independent Iraqi Kurdistan is declared. This will further strain Turkey’s relationship with NATO, as well as complicate the fight against ISIS.

So who benefits here? In the short to medium term ISIS benefits. Any action taken by a member of the host country nation/local force partners of the US led coalition that strains that coalition benefits ISIS. In this case the potential effect is that today’s referendum could splinter the local forces that the US led coalition is partnering with in a “by, with, and through” strategy to defeat ISIS. The potential effects of today’s referendum have the ability to provide ISIS with the time and space to regroup, which is, perhaps, what they need more than anything right now.

The second major beneficiary is the Russians. Russia has been making false claims about its activities against ISIS for months; essentially taking credit for the successes of the local forces that the US led coalition is partnered with and the US led coalition. Moreover, they have been actively and aggressively working to establish greater ties with the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan. Including a petroleum exploitation agreement between Gazprom, the sanctioned Rosneft, and Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

On Friday The NY Times reported that Paul Manafort had been engaged as an external consultant on the referendum by the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan. They could not, however, verify who is paying Manafort. Given Manafort’s long history of working against US interests abroad; his involvement with planning and orchestrating an attack on US Marines at a NATO exercise in Ukraine in 2006 on behalf of his Russian backed and connected client; and his reported connections to both Russian intelligence and Russian oligarchs to whom he is deeply in debt; Manafort’s involvement should give everyone pause as to who is ultimately behind this referendum being held now. Russia’s interests in the region are bolstered and advanced if the US led coalition’s local partners are stressed, let alone if the independence referendum splinters them along Iraqi Arab versus Iraqi Kurdish lines and sucks Turkey into the dispute. Manafort’s involvement raises more questions than we have answers to right now, but it is possible that today’s referendum is just another front being opened in the Russian active measures campaign against the US and its NATO allies.

 

69 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    we’ll get to it later

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    You know Manafort’s been working for the Kurds….

    Uh huh

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: How’s three weeks from Thursday? We can work you in then.

  4. 4
    catclub says:

    So Kurdish independence is the first domino in Russian influence in the Mideast.
    I am not buying it. The Russians will benefit if we let them. Also, when would be a good time for a Kurdish independence vote?
    How about the first of never?

    I was watching the TV this past week and something told me that sometimes an independence struggle is mostly an independence struggle.
    No dominos needed.

  5. 5
    sharl says:

    Are there maybe other factors that might have made Iraqi Kurd leadership feel like they need to do this now? My question is motivated specifically by reports of widespread Yazidi resentment toward the Peshmerga and its political leadership, but maybe there are other restive groups that also worry Barzani & Co.

  6. 6
    cervantes says:

    It’s worth noting that Kurdistan itself is not really functioning as a unified polity. The referendum is really a KDP project, but there is considerable skepticism in PUK-dominated regions. It will pass, certainly, but it isn’t at all clear what will happen next. “Negotiations” for independence are a non-starter, since Baghdad will never agree to it. Any action would have to be unilateral, but they’re screwed if they can’t export their oil. Erdogan can shut down the pipeline, so what can they do? I see this as symbolism. Long term, the only way out is a federal agreement with Baghdad. Note that the KRG did repudiate the PKK and try for a rapprochement with Ankara a couple of years ago, and it almost worked. If they are willing to recognize Turkish and Iranian control over their Kurdish populations they may be able to get what amount to de facto autonomy. No telling what the future will be in northern Syria. Turkey is even more nervous about Kurdish autonomy there.

  7. 7
    Brachiator says:

    We were specifically told be several sheikhs that this was one issue that would unite Sunni and Shi’a Iraqi Arabs and could lead to an Iraqi-Arab versus Iraqi-Kurdish civil war.

    Yeah, but this is an assertion of realpolitik at its baldest, and also perhaps its most absurd. The Sunni and Shi’a Arabs are essentially saying that the region can only be dominated by one of them, and that no one else (Coptic Christians in Egypt, Kurds in Iraq) can ever have a seat at the political table. This also asserts that the Kurds are expected to simply sit back and shut up while the Sunni and Shi’a fight among themselves. These groups are also paying lip service to the idea of a unified Iraq, while simultaneously tearing the country apart.

    However, in the real world, conflict between Sunni and Shi’a presents an opportunity to the Kurds, who appear (on the surface, anyway) to be a more stable political entity and one which is more reliably anti ISIL and pro-US.

    The Sunni and Shi’a claim that a call of Kurdish independence would unite them, but how realistic is this assertion? When have they been truly united before?

    The question of the Turkish response is more problematic. However, given Turkey’s swing towards despotism, how reliable an ally and NATO member can they still be?

    ISIS may benefit, but major players in the region already try to help or hurt ISIS as in benefits them. ISIS is, sadly, the status quo of terrorism.

    The second major beneficiary is the Russians. Russia has been making false claims about its activities against ISIS for months; essentially taking credit for the successes of the local forces that the US led coalition is partnered with and the US led coalition. Moreover, they have been actively and aggressively working to establish greater ties with the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan. Including a petroleum exploitation agreement between Gazprom, the sanctioned Rosneft, and Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

    This is interesting. I assumed that US companies were investing in the Kurds.

    The proposed Kurdish vote is definitely provocative, but I don’t see that either the Kurds or the rest of the world is getting much out of the current state of affairs.

  8. 8
    raven says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If we’re all here that would be good!

  9. 9
    Another Scott says:

    Dunno.

    The Kurds apparently have been defending Kirkuk (province) and repelled a (small) Daesh attack in June. No doubt that report is slanted, but I’m not surprised that they want to include it in Kurdistan if possible.

    You make good points that this potentially increases chaos in the area.

    However, there really is no good time for them to have a referendum on independence. And if any people deserve independence it is them.

    The BBC’s reporting that this referendum will pass (at least in part as a result of opposition boycotts). They’re also saying, though, that it does not mean a formal declaration of independence is imminent.

    Erdogan has made it clear that he will attack the Kurds on any pretext if it helps him domestically. However, I think he’s overplayed his hand. He’s already trashed any reasonably quick EU membership and/or loosening of travel restrictions, etc., for Turks in the EU. Going to war with Kurdistan will only make that worse, and risks blowing up even more of Turkey.

    So, I dunno. The Kurds know better than any of us what the local politics is like and the ramifications of their choices. They’ve been very, very patient and have gotten little sign from the outside that their aspirations will ever be met. There comes a point when people decide to do what’s right for them…

    We’ll see what happens.

    :-/

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (“Biden was probably right, but even that might not have gone far enough, and it was impossible with W in office.”)

  10. 10
  11. 11
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    OT and yet pertinent: Ri Yong Ho, speaking to reporters at a hotel across the street from the United Nations, said President Trump’s comments at the General Assembly last week constituted a declaration of war.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-asserts-its-right-to-shoot-down-us-bombers/2017/09/25/74da66c4-a204-11e7-8cfe-d5b912fabc99_story.html?wpisrc=al_alert-COMBO-world%252Bnation&wpmk=1

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    WTF? North Korea is calling Trump’s bluff.

  13. 13

    @Brachiator: Its never the right time for independence doncha know. Everything has to revolve around the United States (previously Britain/ France etc), political aspirations of the natives are irrelevant. That’s Empire 101.
    BTW why isn’t Manafort in jail?

  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: I have no issues with the Iraqi Kurds declaring independence. It is, essentially, a fait accompli. Doing it right now, however, is bad timing.

  15. 15

    @Adam L Silverman: I haven’t been paying close attention but why is it bad timing.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: The Yazidis are an interesting issue. What is often reported is that they’re Kurds, or predominantly Kurds, who are not Muslim, but instead have their own syncretic religion. What isn’t reported is that a large number of them belong to the Shamori tribe. The Shamori are one of the largest Arab tribes in Iraq and is certainly the largest tribe that is internally religiously mixed. Both Sunni and Shi’a Shamori within the same families within the tribe. Often the pattern is that all the members of a tribe in one area are Sunni or Shi’a depending on where they are in Iraq.

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @cervantes: This is where Gazprom and Rosneft come in. And yes, I see this as a Barzani tribe initiative. You don’t see any of the Talabanis involved.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: It was really about Kirkuk. Kirkuk is ethno-nationally and sectarianly mixed. Each side, Arab and Kurd, would like to claim it. Especially because of its oil wealth. But when it did come up it was clearly a serious concern.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: The Iraqi Kurds extended their lines south to include Kirkuk several years ago and have largely, though not completely, been able to protect those lines of defense. I’ve long argued in reports and in briefings that when the fight against ISIS was over the Iraqi Kurds would declare independence and then a new fight would start – over who gets Kirkuk. I’m relatively agnostic about what the Syrian and Iranian Kurds will do. As in I’m not really sure if their internal, kinship and political and social dynamics and issues would allow them to merge their national aspirations with the Iraqi Kurds or whether they might try to establish their own states thereby creating something of a set of Kurdish congories. The Turkish Kurds would, I think, try to attach themselves, but they will then have a major fight on their hands.

  20. 20
    Yutsano says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s my understanding the Yazidis are, as you say, eclectic when it comes to tribe but unacceptable as a minority because their version of Islam is much more in the Sufi vein.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: @Brachiator: Yep. This is the failure of strategic communication leading to an insecurity spiral I’ve been writing about here off and on for months. While you all and I know the President can’t unilaterally declare war, that nuance is likely lost on most everyone in the DPRK. And a lot of other places. Especially as Congress has ceded more and more of its war powers and oversight to the Executive Branch over the past 70 years.

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Actually, in this case, the issue is finish the fight you’re in today before you pick a second and larger one. Reducing ISIS is the three meter target.

  23. 23
    guachi says:

    The appropriate time for the Kurds to hold an independence vote is the same time it’s appropriate for black Americans to protest their treatment by their government.

  24. 24
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I understand if you want to leave discussion of this issue to another thread, but I’d love to hear your analysis of just how dire the situation is and how can the threat of continuing downward spiral be contained? And by whom?

  25. 25
    The Moar You Know says:

    While you all and I know the President can’t unilaterally declare war, that nuance is likely lost on most everyone in the DPRK. And a lot of other places. Especially as Congress has ceded more and more of its war powers and oversight to the Executive Branch over the past 70 years.

    @Adam L Silverman: If I’m the recipient of a speech like what Donnie Two Scoops laid down last week, I’d consider my country in an active war, period. The North Koreans know that Congressional oversight of war powers is bullshit and has been bullshit for over 70 years – they just have to look at the last time they tangled with the US to understand that. 3 years of blood and not one second of it authorized by a declaration of war from the US Congress.

  26. 26
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @guachi: The “Kurds” (which groups of ethnic Kurds get to vote is another matter) may well hold an independence vote. The problem is which parts of which countries are taken to form an independent Kurdistan nation-state? For some reason existing nation-states react badly when someone tries to take parts of their territories and claim them as their own (see, for example the Second Treasonous Slaveowners Rebellion in the USA, 1861-1865). The successful attempts more recently to create a new nation-state (Pakistan and later Bangladesh, for example) usually involves gunfire and bloodshed, as do the unsuccessful attempts (Tamil etc.) and thanks to Messers Maxim and Kalashnikov the many sides involved are more equally capable of gunfire and bloodshed than they used to be, usually ending up in the application of a Final Solution of genocide and ethnic cleansing by the engaged military forces (Bosnia, US Indian wars etc.).

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Because it has the potential to shatter the Iraqi host country coalition of local forces fighting ISIS. Somewhere between 30 to 50% of the Iraqi Army are Pesh Merga, specifically those aligned with the Talabanis. The Talabanis are historical rivals with the Barzanis, but the leaders – Jalal Talabani and Marsoud Barzani – worked out an agreement in 2003. Barzani would stay in the north and run Iraqi Kurdistan and his Pesh would stay with him. Talabani would go to Baghdad, become the senior most of the three Iraqi vice presidents, and his Pesh would join the Iraqi Army. This referendum seems to be Barzani driven. It also, because of the politics within the Iraqi Kurdish tribes, between Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Arabs, and between various regional powers like Turkey and Iran, has the potential to seriously negatively effect the fight against ISIS. Finish that first and then, as part of rebuilding the areas of Iraq they’ve destroyed work out the independence issue.

    Iraqi Kurds seeking independence isn’t problematic. Nor is it unexpected. Doing it right now is strategically stupid.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: They are religiously problematic when you have extremists running things, like ISIS. Otherwise their kinship ties provide a fair amount of protection.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @guachi: No, this is an inaccurate comparison. Right now the Iraqi Kurds, both those in Kurdistan and those serving in the Iraqi Army are in a war with ISIS. Win the war first.

    African Americans are still experiencing discrimination in the wake of 400 years of slavery and disenfranchisement and second class citizen status. Protesting for full citizenship, beyond just assertions and promises on paper, is appropriate at all times. Especially given the largely peaceful and almost exclusively non-disruptive nature of the protests. Under Just Revolution theory they’d be ethically justified in waging a full scale revolt.

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s been awhile since I’ve studied them (gonna do that homework when I get home late tonight) but if nothing else it’s a good reminder that the Middle East is not just some monolith of Sunni/Shi’a Arabs.

    Man the Brits and the French made a mess here.

  31. 31
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @The Moar You Know: The Korean “War” was a UN-sponsored police action, a bit like the Bosnia conflict fifty years on. A good definition of a “war” in US terms was a fight where the territory of the US itself was under military attack or actively threatened by a direct military attack. This hasn’t happened since 1941, the military actions carried out by the US since then have been politically motivated attacks on other nations far from the shores of the United States.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: I have been planning a DPRK thread for several days. Between the Jewish New Year, having a stomach flu, and some working related stuff I had to finish I’m a bit behind. I expect I’ll have it up by tomorrow some time at the latest.

    Short answer: There are no good military options. The President’s inability to control himself is a major, negative exacerbating factor. We are going to be very lucky if this doesn’t go from uncomfortably bad to galactically, stupidly, catastrophically worse. And in human terms mostly for the folks in South Korea and Japan and maybe Guam.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Moar You Know: No argument here. Hence the strategic communication nightmare scenario we’re in now.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Interesting historical fun fact: Hiram Maxim had a junior partner working with him, who developed a number of firearm patents of his own, named Louis Silverman. My middle name is Louis.
    http://www.forgottenweapons.co.....96-pistol/

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yutsano: Everyone made a mess in the Middle East. Foreign, great powers. Local aspirants to be regional powers. Both super powers in the Cold War. There is enough blame to go around for everyone.

  36. 36
    Another Scott says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: I’m no expert, but haven’t they said similar things in the past (e.g. just about every year when the US/ROK joint exercises are held)?

    We don’t need to panic. Yet…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  37. 37
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hope you feel better soon! I look forward to reading your post whenever you have time and energy to complete it.

    @Another Scott: They probably have, but the difference in the equation is our current CiC, who changes the balance and range of possible outcomes considerably.

  38. 38
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Short answer: There are no good military options.

    FTFY.

    16 years too late for good options on NK.

    Thanks a lot, Bush.

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: I’m feeling much better. Thanks for the kind wishes. We’ll see how things go at the gym this afternoon.

  40. 40
    Citizen_X says:

    Being a landlocked country is problematic. Bolivia, Congo, Tibet, Afghanistan–which one would you all like to live in? The only prosperous landlocked country is Switzerland–a confederation of ethnically different regions that made peace with each other.

    If the countries around them decide that the Kurds aren’t getting their oil out, there’s not much that Kurdistan will be able to do about it.

  41. 41

    @Yutsano: There and everywhere else, look for a current trouble spot in the world you will find their rapacious paw prints there. But the Queen has cute dogs so its all good.

  42. 42
    catclub says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    A good definition of a “war” in US terms was a fight where the territory of the US itself was under military attack or actively threatened by a direct military attack. This hasn’t happened since 1941,

    How can you say this and forget Grenada??

  43. 43
    catclub says:

    @Citizen_X: When I am king and redraw Sykes-Picot, Kurdistan will have an extension to the Mediterranean coast.

    I would also like a pony.

  44. 44
    BubaDave says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    How much of this can/should be read as Barzani reacting to the fact that after ISIS is defeated Talabani will have some serious chips to cash in with the US and the Iraqi central government, and trying to pre-empt that a bit and incidentally extend the war on ISIS and thereby bleed Talibani’s troops further?

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: Had to get the med school students out before the volley ball tournament!

  46. 46

    @catclub: Add the Durand and Radcliffe lines to your list.

  47. 47
    The Pale Scot says:

    Adam, do you have any idea what this is about?

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2......html#more

    For three years ISIS had besieged Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor city and its airport. It had not once managed to successfully attack the Syrian headquarter or to kill high ranking officers. Now, as U.S. proxy forces “advised” by U.S. special forces, have taken position north of Deir Ezzor, “ISIS” suddenly has the intelligence data and precision mortar capabilities to kill a bunch of visiting Russian officers?

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @BubaDave: I don’t know. Hard to say from this far away. If I was deployed over there I’d have a better sense of it. But I also wouldn’t be answering your question.

  49. 49
    mdblanche says:

    @catclub: Your highness, there are some upset Alawites on line 1 complaining about how you want to put them under Kurdish rule against their will.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Pale Scot: A Russian general, General Asapov, was killed over the weekend. The official Russian line, as pushed in Russian language sources and RT and Sputnik, and apparently at MoA’s site, is that this is somehow the US’s fault.

    The reality is that the Russians have been taking regular casualties, such as the Spetznaz (Russian special forces) officer recently killed, but aren’t reporting the casualties to the Russian news media. Same thing they do with the casualties they take in Ukraine. In this case, because it was a general officer, they had no choice but to report it or for the media outlets to cover it.

    They’ve been pushing this lie for a while now that the US Special Forces backed local Syrian irregular forces we’re partnered with against ISIS are actually a false front for friendly US Special Forces working with ISIS. Its garbage, but given the state control of news media in Russia, it is what is being reported.

    What is interesting is a Syrian government official gave an interview about 8 or 9 months ago where he indicated that Syrian Intelligence had so thoroughly infiltrated ISIS that Syrian Intelligence was controlling their targeting. I have no way to confirm that, but if it is the case then Russia’s problems are with their Syrian proxies.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @mdblanche: And a Russian admiral on line 2 about why his base is now being overrun by Pesh Merga.

  52. 52
    The Pale Scot says:

    Thanks man, I knew there’d be a shitload of chaff if I tried the sort it out. The Syrian G2 angle is interesting. If so, they have a catspaw with a lot of turtles underneath it

  53. 53
    infovore says:

    @Adam L Silverman: FWIW Moon of Alabama is where (part) of the active commentariat of Billmon’s Whiskey Bar ended up when Billmon shuttered his blog. These days it does seem to follow the Russian line quite faithfully: only the USA ever acts of its own accord (and always for nefarious reasons) while everyone else merely reacts to American provocations.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Pale Scot: Here’s the vid of the Syrian official:

    And here’s a write up about it:
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/n.....1685152489

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @infovore: I never followed Billmon, so. All I know of MoA was him constantly annoying the proprietor of where I wrote before this.

  56. 56
    TenguPhule says:

    Is it me or is everything seeming to catch on fire this week across every major conflict region the USA is currently involved in?

  57. 57
    The Pale Scot says:

    @infovore:

    These days it does seem to follow the Russian line quite faithfully

    Yea, I smelled that. Me mum’s fam is Polish/Ukranian. I grew up thinking that the only good Boris is a dead Boris

  58. 58
    The Pale Scot says:

    @infovore:

    These days it does seem to follow the Russian line quite faithfully

    Yea, I smelled that. Me mum’s fam is Polish/Ukranian. I grew up thinking that the only good Boris is a dead Boris

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m not the only one wondering how the Russians are going to flip votes, right?

  60. 60
    Brachiator says:

    @TenguPhule:

    .Is it me or is everything seeming to catch on fire this week across every major conflict region the USA is currently involved in?

    No. The world goes on. For example, you have the horrible treatment of Muslims in Burma and the massive refugee exodus to Bangladesh. Ain’t got nothing to do with the US. Shit, we don’t even care, liberal or conservative.

    ..

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    ..It was really about Kirkuk. Kirkuk is ethno-nationally and sectarianly mixed. Each side, Arab and Kurd, would like to claim it. Especially because of its oil wealth.

    Yep. Good point. Thanks for your comments here. Also, I very much know what you mean about that flu thing. Stii dealing with it myself.

    ..

  62. 62
    Yutsano says:

    @Brachiator: Ye gods I need to make the biggest pot of zuppa de pollo ever. And distribute it across the country.

    But especially Puerto Rico right now.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: No worries. Also, why I haven’t done a Rohingya post. When all you want to do is collapse, it’s kind of hard to focus.

  64. 64
    TenguPhule says:

    Hey Adam, what happens when Israel is thrown into the Kurdistan pot?

    Blue and white Israeli flags have become a common sight in the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil. Some Kurds fly them on their cars. Others waved them enthusiastically at massive rallies ahead of Monday’s referendum on independence.

    Israel has been a vocal advocate of Kurdish independence in the lead-up to the vote, and in a region where Israeli flags are most often seen being trampled or burned, the images were striking. They have provided easy fodder for the referendum’s opponents, who point to an Israeli plot to break up Iraq.

    I can’t help but get a very sinking feeling about this, given who’s in charge of Israel at the moment.

  65. 65
    catclub says:

    @TenguPhule: 1) I can imagine someone who wants to sabotage the election flying those flags and saying the other side is in favor.
    2) in the case of the traitor’s flag here, the people who fly it think it is more popular than it actually is, which could also be the case there.

  66. 66
    sharl says:

    @TenguPhule: Israel is happy to do anything that inconveniences the Iranians, who don’t like the idea of an independent Kurdistan next door to them any more than the Turkish or Iraqi governments. Iran has its own Kurdish minority, and doesn’t want them getting restive.
    That may not be the only reason for Israel’s newfound Kurd love, but it’s gotta be at least one factor.

  67. 67
    sharl says:

    Test (wanna see what happens to weird font/spacing in this tweet when embedded here):

    HELLO FELLOW HUMAN TEENS I HEARD THE COOLEST PLACE FOR US TEENS TO HANG OUT IS The Colossal Pillar of Wasp Eggs LETS GO DO NOT BRING WEAPONS— Glempner (@pisscop) May 9, 2011

    ETA: Looks like a pretty faithful transcription…

  68. 68
    sharl says:

    @TenguPhule: Retweeted by Cheryl –

    Former Swedish prime minister & foreign minister, known not to pull his punches, calls out Netanyahu for pushing Trump towards war with Iran https://t.co/D02clDYCBR— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) September 25, 2017

    Egged on by Netanyahu it seems Trump wants to take the US into a region-wide war with Iran. Europe will suffer. Everyone will lose.— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) September 19, 2017

  69. 69
    J R in WV says:

    Very strange thread.

    My Grandma carried a 1903 Colt automatic pistol designed by John Browning, he of the 1911 .45 pistol still produced, as well as the dreaded MA Deuce twin .50 MG. My cousin, son of Grandma’s only son, inherited the pistol and keeps it in his Safe Deposit box.

    He comes out to our farm to shoot from time to time, and last time I learned that his dad, my uncle Bill carried that same pistol in his hip pocket when he ran ‘shine into town. Uncle didn’t make it, neighbor up the hollow behind the family farm “squeezed” the ‘shine and Uncle drove it into town, probably to the Elks, Moose, Odd Fellows, Owls, and those fraternal orders so popular in those times long ago.

    All this was before WW II broke out, when Uncle enlisted and flew on heavy bombers in the South Pacific. Pistol over 100 years old, still shoots with just a drop of lube oil. Not too accurate, but at in-the-room ranges, close enough. We shot 3 magazines, 5 rounds each, to not push old springs too far. First round the next round stove-piped, popped out the magazine, cleared the round, second try all was good.

    Browning did good work.

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