To lead off, a good overview of the issues of Kurdish secession from AFP. Some key points:
- Iraqi Kurdistan faces some serious challenges, including an oil-dependent economy at a time of low oil prices, and about 1 million refugees within its borders.
- While Baghdad might tolerate secession, the question of the border between Kurdistan and Iraq is extremely contentious. (The main problems would be the Kirkuk area, which once had a large Kurdish majority, which Saddam Hussein displaced and moved in Arab residents; Sinjar, and the area east and north of Mosul including ownership of the Mosul dam.)
- Kurdistan would require strong security guarantees from the U.S. for viability.
- Kurdistan would also require Turkish forbearance. This might be forthcoming if it wins an end to irredentism among the Turkish Kurdish population, which the Kurdish Regional Government has been angling for by repudiating the PKK.
Regarding the latter point, I had a long conversation with a Kurdish-American man from Turkey, and he is to say the least not happy about it. He opposes the referendum because he sees it as abandonment of the Turkish Kurds, and notes that the 6 million or so Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan are only a fraction of the total Kurdish population of 25-35 million. He might accept a state including the Syrian Kurdish region, called Rojava in federation with Iraqi Kurdistan as an adequate Kurdish homeland, but Turkey is unlikely ever to accede to that. We’ll see how this ends but I doubt the PKK will go away in the foreseeable future.
Food poisoning strikes the Khazer refugee camp east of Mosul, killing 2 and sickening hundreds. Just a reminder of the burden the KRG bears for refugees.
IS control is reduced to the old city center and “medical city” in Mosul. Still, about 200,000 civilians remain trapped in IS-held territory.
Syrian state TV reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a U.S. airstrike. However, this is an unreliable source (to say the least), and previous reports of his demise have been, as they say, greatly exaggerated. We shall see.
U.S. soldiers killed on June 10 are identified as Army Sergeant Eric M. Houck, 25, Sergeant William M. Bays, 29, and Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, all of the 101st Airborne based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. CNN provides photographs and capsule biographies of the dead.
Mad Dog says he will propose an Afghanistan strategy to the President “very soon.” There are indications this will include deploying additional troops to the country.
Several Afghan army personnel are sentenced to prison in relation to the disastrous Taliban attack on an army base in Balkh in April. Here is some information from TOLO about the Shaheen 29 army corps.
U.S. troops accused of killing 3 civilians by “indiscriminate fire” in Nangarhar after an IED attack on their vehicle, in which no U.S. personnel were injured.
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