Energy Peace (II) – Is Barzani forming a naval fleet?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Yesterday, I wrote about the concept of “energy peace” with the goal of examining international economic projections leading to the Kurdish initiative.
I am not saying that the Kurdish initiative is simply based on factors in the international economy. I am perfectly aware that the Kurdish question stems from a historic, social, cultural and political background of internal dynamics. But I believe economic reasons are the driving force behind the conflict, that the struggle for economic interests in the international arena fuels this “historic opportunity.”
Yesterday, I roughly described “energy peace” in the following way:
“This concept [energy peace], led by such countries as the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, supports [the idea] that projects for transporting energy resources such as oil and natural gas to the West can also serve [the goal of] peace. Thanks to the pipelines and ports to be shared, countries of the region that have great disputes among themselves can attain peace more easily as their economic interests overlap, provided that the cooperating countries are chosen properly.”
A few years ago, Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Administration, applied for membership to the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, or IMO, a 166-member umbrella organization for maritime trade.
Barzani and the IMO’s secretary-general, retired Greek Adm. Eftimous Mitropoulos, have quite warm ties. Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has also specially requested that Mitropoulos not turn down Barzani.
Barzani’s moral courage stems from his seeing the Faroe Islands of Denmark, Hong Kong and Macau as a precedent for northern Iraq, though the regional administration has not been officially declared as “Kurdistan” yet. The examples presented here are not independent states yet, but they, as autonomous regions, are associate members to the IMO.
Why is Barzani insisting on membership to the IMO?
Northern Iraq has no sea border. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says, however, that a country having no connection to the sea has no chance to stand on its own. So northern Iraq should, somehow, open up to the sea. The Red Sea option is impossible for now. The Tartus Port of Syria is another option. However, Turkey is the most feasible option: Reaching out to the Mediterranean via Turkey!
At this point, the Mersin Port is an option.
Plans for opening northern Iraq to the sea through the Mersin Port in Turkey are not clearly explained yet. But infrastructure studies continue for some time.
The Turkish province of Mersin being selected for provocative attempts by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is not for nothing. Attempts at burning flags, attacks against the police and the PKK rallies organized in this particular city are not at all a coincidence.
It has been claimed that representatives of companies owned by Barzani are making serious investments in Turkey; that they are even trying to become dominant in the Mersin Free Trade Zone and at the Iskenderun Port. Plus. Let us not forget that current ethnic and political makeup in Mersin is based on migration.
“Energy Peace” excludes the PKK. But let us also not forget that the PKK helps out Barzani. Please do remember, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, and the PKK keep stressing “autonomy.”
Let’s be realistic:
1) The northern Iraq initiative triggered the issue.
2) If peace is the goal, we cannot reach it without convincing the PKK.
© 2009 Hurriyet Daily News URL: www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=energy-peace-ii---is-barzani-forming-a-naval-fleet-2009-09-08