tv Inside Story Al Jazeera July 15, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
that commercial was michael jordan, of course, has his own line of nike apparel, and he is one of the jordan brand threatens' it for this edition of al jazeera, inside story is next, go to our website aljazeera.com. >> what happens if the kurds seek independence? it's the "inside story." >> hello, i'm libby casey. internal political strife along
sectarian life could pull a ro rock iraq apart. kurds have lived semi semi autoously in northern iraq. now with the upheaval in iraq the kurds share a 600-mile border with the new islamic state. forces are fighting the sunni insurgents and pulling away from baghdad economically and politically. >> the time has come for us to determine our own fate. we must not wait for others to determine it with us. >> president of the semi autonomous kurdish region of northern iraq. they live upon some of the richest oil fields in all of iraq. as the government in baghdad fractures in sectarian divisions
the kurdish pull away in states that they can take care of. they threatened off advances of isil and declared their own islamic state. the fighting has made the question of borders and security even more important to the kurds who see the baghdad government and nouri al-maliki as opposite of their goals. >> it will hurt you and it will take the region in a maze that you cannot exit. secondly, you already decided to be part of a democratic and ferrell iraq. you have your own federal region. there is not an article in our constitution allowing self determination. >> maliki has gone further in his harsh rhetoric against the
kurds saying that it is now home to the terrorists, to say the least this is not helping a possible political solution to the crisis in iraq. in the past few weeks kurds have boycotted the iraqi parliament. there was a glimmer of hope with the selection of a new speaker a sunni. now parliament has 30 days to elect the new president and by tradition that post goes to a curd. 15 days after that a new government can be formed and a new prime minister could be selected. so the kurds and their politicians are in an awkward position. they're vital to any long-term political solution to save iraq if they have a strong desire for independence. it can't be both. and if the path to independence oil and oil money are key. the kurdish region of iraq has the ninth largest oil reserves in the world. under the iraqi constitution the kurdish government is supposed to get 17.5% of the oil revenues
but the al maliki government has been cutting off that money. >> we'll be self-sufficient in terms of money. bamagazinebaghdad made the wrong decision. they have miscalculated that. the will of kurdish people will fight back and we will live, and we will match that expectation we have. we will be free with our own revenue as supposed to be under the thumb of big taters in baghdad. >> the kurdish forces ban when they moved in control the important oil city of kirkuk. and just in the past two days they captured two facilities outside of kirkuk. the kurds believe they have the right to sell the oil and have cuts deals with exxonmobil.
they began exporting the oil through turkey. exports were up 50% in the last month. iraqi kurdistan has long known relative peace. it's citizens with a myriad different face, languages and cultures live and work together under an effective government called the kurdistan regional government, krg. but they have known little self governing power as promises of independence never materialized. the colonial powers left iraq, turkey, iran and syria. >> we the kurdish people demand the establishment of an independent kurdish country. we have prepared to sacrifice ourselves for our country. >> reporter: now president barzoni said he no longer feels bound to the iraqi constitution. rather they're preparing an
independent referendum, the bo boldest push for statehood in 100 years. >> security, sovereignty or oil wealth or the potential of it and larger regional concerns are all concerns for the kurds' push for independence. joining our discussion from washington., our guests. welcome to you all. how does the semi autonomous government function? what power does president barzoni have. >> it's a pleasure to be back here. so the current autonomous region, this would be in addition to what authorities
exist have. this would mean conducting their own affairs with great authority. >> insert what the picture looks like right now. semi autonomous is not something that we're familiar with in the u.s. what practical power does it have? >> it would remain part of iraq. however, with greater autonomy. right now it is tied to baghdad to the central government with more authority were baghdad, though that's not what the constitution calls for. but with some autonomy the kurds would gain more authority over their own affairs. what does that mean? it includes selling oil without the consent of the federal government. but still sharing some of these revenues with baghdad. conducting other affairs such as maintaining it's defense forces. such as keeping and main tag its finances. and conducting more diplomatic
missions abroad. >> alec, a central government has contributed to the kurds' ability to gain ground, literally, as well as politically. how much is the fractured government affecting the kurdish cause? it's not really an issue of a fractured government in baghdad. it's the fact that it has not really respected iraq's constitution. prime minister maliki has not, for example, implemented article 140 of the constitution, which calls for the resolution of the disputed internal boundaries areas that are both mixed. he has used iraq's great oil wealth as an economic weapon as saddam hussein did previously. for example, over the past several months he has cut off the kurds' share of iraq's revenues, and instituted a form
of economic sanctions domestically. so all of these things, as mentioned in your lead up piece, all of these things have created a backlash which are now haunting baghdad. that's not to speak what al maliki has done with the sunni arabs as well, which has helped to inflame the situation and led to this existential crisis in baghdad. >> how encouraged are you about the election of the speaker, the sunni speaker. >> the fact that there is a sunni speaker is one small part of it. you first have a fractured sunni community in and of itself. how far maliki can actually do and really incorporate sunni communities into really power share something a part of it. but the curd as potential president, in and of itself is
contentious among the kurdish communities. who would that be? some people are calling for puk leaders. does that mean that they lead the kurdistan region and what influence would they have as president. the current president was more than a symbolic leader even though that we know that the role of president in iraq is symbolic. the issue is much deeper. it goes into what role do the sunnies have, how much will the kurds give back and be willing to set some type of federal structure after they've gotten so far. >> would the presidency mean much? is that just a ceremonial post or would having a kurd in that position make a difference. >> the position does have authority, but unfortunately we've seen this authority stripped away from the president's office during the
past administration under the leadership of prime minister maliki. just today to strip out the commander of chief and perhaps give it to the president or create another entity within the government so that whoever comes through power and premiereship does not violate or move the country in a direction that is too powerful where all of the decision making is made through the prime minister's office. so it can if there is willingness to reconcile and willingness to share power in the prime minister's office. >> how is isil fighting shaped the krg's moves and choices? how significant is what is happening on the grouped effecting the krg? >> i spoke with a senior member of the kurdish cabinet just a short time ago. frankly, they're quite
concerned. according to this very senior official. carkurdistan now has a board are sunni ratio iraq and 13 kilometers with maliki's shia arab iraq, frankly. they're concerned that as more time passes, correctly, more sunni arabs will integrate into isis and will be radicalized. ed a we see iran and it's revolutionary guards move to reinforce prime minister, the increased training, arming and funding of the shia militias then that will create further sunni backlash. >> we'll take a short break. prime minister al maliki is
bring iraq together and at the same time call for indian. let's jump right back in the conversation. denise, is it possible to have a stable iraq if the kurds pull out? if they truly form their own autonomous state, can iraq survive? >> even can the kurds part of iraq it's still unstable. what would be the implications, first financially, this is not a big strain on the iraqi government because they're paying out last year was $13 billion. that's a lot of money, 17% whether--even 11%. it's not going to be a financial loss. the bigger issue are borders. in my view if depends on the process and the manner of which the kurds would declare themselves independent. what does that look like? did "s" that three provinces or
kirkuk and parts of mosul. if it includes the last two, unilaterally you'll have conflicts. for iraq, it means for the kurds it means greater influstration, destabilizing a very unstable region and risking investment. so the iraqis right now in these regions they have very little to leave. i think whose got a lot more to loose in terms of stability would be the kurdistan region. >> what would that kurdistan look like? is it secular? >> well, the new result after the fall mosul, it would consist of the rep researc referendum would be part of kirkuk. there would be a second referendum to be carried out and
the other three provinces. if the public decides this is where they want to go, now what will kurdistan? what would iraq look like? i think iraq would be fine. when you take an equation with three variables you have a more complex equation. but when you take one variable away its easier to solve the problem. iraq consist with the kurds and arabs. in decision to that you have the sunni and shiite. if you take county attorne away the kurdish ethnic part-- >> you sound like you disagree with that. >> i do disagree, it's not entirely--the points are well taken, but we've got 80 years of iraqi history that did not get swept under the barrel. this is not just about sunny and shiite. there is a kurd dynamic to this
as well. there are non-kurdish who are in kirkuk. the idea of the kurds just shifting away is not just the al maliki issue. there is the kurdish nationalism, and arab nationalism. and then there are these oil fields. i see this again as not a very clean velvet revolution of people going their separate ways in a nice divorce, but a messy one depending on again how the process falls out. but i don't see it being a clean sweep. >> we'll dig in to the money picture a little later. i want to get a sense for you what an independent region mean to turkey, syria and iran?
>> what we've seen over the past 20 years is that kurds tend to be secular, pro american and pro western. i think it's an important empirical point to point out. of all those wounded, not a single wounded was from kurdistan, they were all from arab iraq. there has been a profound historic impact because obviously the kurds are a minority in iraq and syria and turkey and iran. and the nation has never had a state of its own. it's because t these are
historic developments that we've witnessed over the past several years in terms of the no-fly zone instituted in 1991 and the development since. frankly these are unprecedented. and they're in uncharted territory here in having watched the region for so long, having been involved in the region in iraq specifically, do you see the semi autonomous region of kurdistan being at a particular pivotal moment right now? are things significantly different right now? >> very much so. because again as i pointed out we're in uncharted certificate tore. for example, the kurds have enjoyed autonomy since no-fly zone was instituted in the first gulf war. then the two factions of the democratic part and then the
vicious civil war in the 199 the 0s, much more vicious than what some of the arabs have done to the kurds including the assassination of top leaders on both sides. and then instead of fighting over the crumbs they decided to grow the pie and then divide the spoils between them, which was very smart. in terms of what happens from here, a lot of it depends on whether the kurdish leadership is able to maintain leadership within kurdistan, there are issues with that, and then more importantly what the regional actors do. iran, the most powerful player in iraq decides to do, and obviously turkey is kurdistan's own viable export route.
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>> welcome back to inside story. i'm libby casey. on this edition of our program we're looking at the crisis in iraq by understanding what is happening in iraqi kurdistan. we've been discussion their aspirations for autonomy, and now we want to turn to money. specifically oil money. the kurds are supposed to get 17% of iraq's oil revenues. any chance of that happening, and if it did would that alleviate some of the tensions. >> the constitution says 17% and then deductions, and it's been between 11% to 13%. i think this is more than ref into us and how much they're getting. if you look at the whole, 13 and $15 billion is a lot of money. there was a great deal offered.
there is about having greater control over the oil that gets exported. i think at this point there is going to be an demand for greater control of those exports as well. this is where some of the issues are. the problem for me, and i don't want to overly roman at this size. the math does not add up here. right now 95% of the kurds budget comes from baghdad, and there is not an easy replacement right now. it's going to be a very important backlash on the people when you don't have the replacement to $13 billion to $14 billion, and there are kurds who are worried about being stuck as a vassel state for turkey. >> the folks here in washington for the kurdistan state in
washington, what would it take to be financially independent? >> we're working our way towards achieving that goal. 17% has never been delivered to the kurdistan regional government. let's make sure that we're clear on that ever since the iraqi institution was ratified in 2005. not only that, but since december of 2013 the budget has been completely cut off from the kurdistan region by the federal government in baghdad. what would make up for the 17%. we predict the 45 to 500 barrels of oil exported, the leadership has is saying why are we still
part of a region that puts a mug on us, tries to make threats when we export oil on a right that was given to us by the iraqi constitution. >> alec, you negotiated exxonmobil entry into iraqi kurdistan. do the kurds have enough resources to be economically independent? let's today taking kirkuk out of the picture. >> the short answer is they do under the ground. kurdistan has between 20 to 50 million barrels of natural gas. you're talking about libya-sized reserves, more or less. just a significantly, frankly, it's parked right next to n.a.t.o. and g-20 turkey which is one of the largest economies in the world, which is going quickly and very importantly does not have resources of its
own. right now it's reliant on russia's vladimir putin and shia iran. that's why i believe a strategic agreement is inevitable. because one country desperately needs those resources, and another entity desperately wants to export its resources for purposes of economic. selself-sufficiency. it would not be reliant on baghdad for revenues and we've seen over the furthers that baghdad has used money as a form of--as a political weapon in an attempt to stall the curbs when ba baghdad is not happy with its present position. >> what does it mean for outside countries like the united states as we watch the kurds work
towards independence. >> looking at the oil we should go deeper than saying this is a matter of being oppressed by the kurds. there are some serious legal and political issues that remain. anyone who is interested in getting this oil out, and i think we probably all are here, having it be conducted through the legal mechanism so there are not boats stuck at sea because there is litigation with anchor, and despite these disagreements, encouraging the kurds to negotiate with baghdad would the best solution. >> that's the end of inside study. thanks for being with us. i'm libby casey. >> the cease-fire between israel and hamas never had a chance to take hold. the two sides are starting to ramp up attacks as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict come
short. and we look at an already desperate humanitarian situation become even worse. many migrants deported to honduras, and many of them pledge to go make the trip again. that's all coming up at 6:00 eastern. when i met the president, he did say, i borrowed your slogan. >> activist and presidential medal of freedom winner coined the phrase, "yes, we can." the mantra became barack intaps's call to vote. she co-founded the united farm worker's union. >> when you think of this humiliate people and oppress them and not providing the basic human needs they have is just a