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    A flag of the autonomous Kurdistan region flies as Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position to monitor the area from their front line post in Bashiqa, a town 13 kilometres north-east of Mosul (File)

    US 'Only Interested' in Independent Kurdistan Due to Oil, But It Comes at a Cost

    © AFP 2017/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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    Oil deposits are the only reason why policymakers in Washington could be interested in supporting Iraqi Kurdistan's aspirations for independence, political analyst Alexander Asafov, an expert on the United States, told RT. But a new state in the Middle East would come at a cost for the US.

    "In the last five years the United States has added oil-rich countries to its sphere of influence. According to its data, there are oil deposits in Kurdish territories that have not been discovered yet. This region is important to the US only in this respect. They can take Iraqi Kurdistan under control, making it dependent on Washington. This step will be made to achieve easier access to the oilfields," he said.

    Asafov added that US foreign policy priorities are likely to change once US President-elect Donald Trump comes to power.

    Trump "clearly said that the United States will no longer carry out regime change operations in other countries, because they are too expansive and unprofitable. This is why they could well leave Iraqi Kurdistan in peace," he said.

    However, if Iraqi Kurdistan succeeds in achieving independence, the United States will most likely have to increase its funding of the newly-minted state.

    "An independent Kurdistan would require significantly more US military aid than current training and equipping. It would also need economic assistance, given the heavy burden of caring for large numbers of Syrian refugees and the exposure of Kurdish finances to booms and busts in energy markets," analysts Steven A. Cook and Eni Enrico Mattei asserted.

    In July 2014, President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on independence in the coming months, saying that Iraq was already divided. The vote has been postponed since Baghdad and Kurdish authorities agreed to focus on the fight against Daesh.

    Iraqi security forces members drive a military vehicle in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq December 9, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Alaa Al-Marjani
    Iraqi security forces members drive a military vehicle in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq December 9, 2016

    Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is reported to be determined to raise the independence issue again once Iraqi security forces and Kurdish militias wrest control of Mosul from the brutal group, which has been in charge in the second largest city in the country since June 2014.

    "This issue will be discussed closely with the Iraqi government after the completion of the operation to liberate Mosul from Daesh. The discussion is expected to help clarify many controversial issues. We want to create an independent Kurdistan as a result of the peace process, without any accidents or clashes," Ali Avni of the Kurdistan Democratic Party told Sputnik.

    Avni added that the Kurds will hold the referendum only if Baghdad is not opposed to the idea.

    According to a report released in November by the RAND Corporation, "Baghdad's ability to prevent the Kurds from gaining independence may be limited," however an amicable divorce will help "Baghdad to mitigate the negative consequences of Kurdish independence and has possible long-term benefits for both parties."

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    independence referendum, US foreign policy, oil, independence, Kurds, Daesh, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq, United States
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