Kurdish goals remain the same, but tactics must adapt: US ex-ambassador

By Namo Abdulla 22 Oct 2017 –  RUDAW – It is not over, Kurdistan has not been served up to Iran, said Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as US ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to 2007.  Speaking with Rudaw’s Namo Abdulla in Washington about the recent Iraq advance into the disputed areas, Khalilzad said now is the time for the Kurdish leadership to look at what happened, learn their lessons, and plan for the future. “The goal remains the same, but the strategy and the tactics need to adapt,” said Khalilzad. “And I believe that’s what the Kurds will do. I hope that’s what they will do.”

Khalilzad’s advice is for the United States to become more involved and establish an Iraqi-Kurdish-US mechanism to ensure security, and then, with UN support, begin steps to implement the constitution with respect to the disputed territories. He hopes that the Iraqi leadership will show wisdom and choose that route of dialogue and compromise, and will not move closer to Iran, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards clearly played a key role in events in Kirkuk, or think that they now hold all the power and so can strong-arm the Kurds.

“If steps are not taken immediately to reassure the Kurds on these fronts, I think there will be the prospect for resistance, which Kurds are very good at,” said Khalilzad. And instability and conflict will go beyond the Kurdish areas and will affect all of Iraq and the whole region.  His advice for Abadi is not to repeat the mistakes of past Iraqi leaders, thinking he has won and so does not need to accommodate the Kurds.