BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political, February 14, 2007 Wednesday
Source : Khabat, Arbil, in Sorani Kurdish 13 Feb 07
As the situation in Iraq is deteriorating, the US Democratic Congressmen, joined by a mob from the US people, are pressuring the Bush Administration to change its strategy regarding the increase in the budget and troops in Iraq. This call for change has even been raised by some of the Republicans as well.
Lately, however, local and external media have reported that the US may plan to set up a military base in Kurdistan, like the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Though some media outlets have dismissed the reality of the claim, others emphasize its validity.
A short while ago, without the permission of the KRG officials in the area, US troops and high-ranking US military officials had flown over Qaradagh area and stayed there for several hours to scrutinize the location. It has even been reported that the mentioned US troops had requested the inhabitants of these areas to evacuate their villages in return for compensation. Logically, this seems to be true, because after huge losses of lives and money, the US would not easily depart from Iraq amid such an increasingly messy and hazy circumstance.
Consequently, the need for the presence of a US base in the area is more pressing now than it was before the Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is crucial for the US Administration no matter who might be in charge, the Democrats or the Republicans, both of which realize that a withdrawal of troops may harm the interest of both the US and its allies. Thus, the US may then loose its grandeur as the world’s most powerful force.
On the other hand, the US has not forgotten how Turkey, an old strategic ally, set conditions and eventually refused to let the US use the Turkish Incirlik Air Base for the Operation Iraqi Freedom. This situation is similar to the aftermath of the cold war with Russia, which is trying to run counter to the US interests by supporting Iran and anti-US countries. Accordingly, Russia is still in conflict with the US, although the eastern block has lost the cold war.
Having said that, the US is seemingly projecting to set up a new air base in Iraq ; but in which part of Iraq such an air base would be established ? It cannot be done in the Shi’i-south areas due to their radical ethnic ties especially with Iran ; therefore, it would not provide a sound strategic site for the purpose. Amid current instability, the central Sunni areas of Iraq would not meet the purpose either, because the Sunnis are fiercely and incessantly fighting the US which ousted them from power. As such, it does not appear that the US may ever think of establishing any base there. According to logic, the best location for a US base would be the Kurdistan Region, where not even a single US soldier has been wounded to date. In spite of this, however, Iraqi population is formed mainly of Shi’i and Sunni Arabs, each of which is backed by a different regional country. None of these countries is ready to support and defend the Kurds at all. Instead, the Kurds are facing internal and external threats from such countries which back the Iraqi Arabs.
For such and similar reasons, the Kurds and the US may in the future need each other’s support more earnestly than they do now. Though the establishment of any military base in Kurdistan may exasperate several groups and countries, it is unlikely that the US would easily overlook the Kurds, the only faithful US ally in the region.
Text of article by Khalid Gardi entitled “Could Kurdistan be the US choice for its projected military base ?”, carried by Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) newspaper Khabat on 13 February
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