(Veddy interesting! @10 – promoted by buhdydharma )
Why on earth have tensions suddenly escalated along the Turkish border with Iraq? Why have Kurdish PKK guerrillas been going out of their way in recent weeks to provoke a conflict with Turkish forces and draw the Turkish Army into a cross-border incursion into the Kurd-administered region of northern Iraq?
The most important clue may lie in the persona and actions of Ray L. Hunt, CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., member of the Halliburton Board of Directors, Bush “Pioneer,” major Republican fund-raiser, and, oh, by the way, member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).
Hunt is no mere peripheral bit player; he has donated $35 million to his alma mater, Southern Methodist University, for purchase of an apartment complex that seems destined to be the site of the Bush Presidential Library and possibiy an affiliated think tank (oxymoron alert).
In short, Ray L. Hunt is a poster boy for Republican, Texas Big Oil, crony capitalism.
Below the break let us ponder how Hunt appears to be a primary catalyst for cataclysm in the Middle East.
If there is to be a history written of World War III, we should probably start drafting it now, for after our species self-immolates, it may be many millions of years before another intelligent species arises from the apes, porpoises, parrots, or ants to unearth and ponder the traces that we may leave behind.
Just as Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip’s assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th, 1914 is generally cited as the triggering event for World War I, we may already have seen the triggering event for World War III, or at least for a major regional cataclysm in the Middle East.
Recall that on September 8th, 2007, Hunt’s company signed an oil production sharing agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government–much to the irritation of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.
Is there any sentient observer on the planet who doubts that Hunt was acting on the basis of inside information? Republican money, Republican White House, Halliburton, PFIAB connection, personal contact with President Bush and Vice President Cheney–is it not just possible that Hunt was in a position to know what Cheney and Bush would like to see happen in Iraq? Is it not more than just possible that Hunt decided to use that knowledge for the profit of his company and himself? How could a rich Texas Big Oil Republican resist such an opportunity?
It seems at least possible that that Hunt’s connections with the intelligence community may go beyond his membership in the PFIAB. A Hunt company aircraft is recorded as landing at the CIA’s training facility at Camp Peary, Virginia in late November, 2006. Does Hunt’s connection with CIA activities extend to covert activities in Iraq’s Kurdistan? Seymour Hersh has reported on U.S. support for militant groups such as the PJAK (Kurds targeting Iran) or MEK (radical leftist Sunnis targeting Iran). The Telegraph has reported on helicopter flights taking U.S. officers in Iraq to meet with Kurdish fighters and also has reported on recent Kurdish cross-border violence inside Iran.
There are some public hints of Presidential Findings directing covert operations, including armed actions, against Iran. Has Hunt allowed his company to be used as a commercial cover mechanism to ship arms and launder money for any such activities directed by the CIA? Or has the Bush/Cheney White House circumvented the legal requirement to inform Congress of such covert activities by conducting such operations through the National Security Council and the Department of Defense as “black operations” with no notification of Congress? Is Hunt’s company involved in such “black operations” for Dick Cheney? Remember that these people, notably convicted and pardoned Elliot Abrams, have experience in this kind of approach dating back to the days of Iran-Contra.
Was Hunt’s PSA with the Kurds his payoff for serving as a conduit for such “black operations” in Kurdistan and Iran being directed out of Cheney’s office? Perhaps someday Seymour Hersh will be able ferret out any such details from his sources.
Hunt, like Bush, is a wealthy child of privilege and wealth. In Hunt’s case, his father was the renowned Texas oilman H. L. Hunt, the famously wacko John Birch Society sponsor and JFK hater. Ray L. Hunt inherited his father’s fortune at the age of thirty-one. Unlike George W. Bush, however, Ray L. Hunt actually appears to be intelligent and hard-working, as presaged in his quite impressive performance as a student at SMU. True, SMU is not a top tier school, but it is clear from Hunt’s record that he was not an intellectually lazy mediocrity like Bush. Hunt is not merely a rich crony of Bush and Cheney; he is a smart, rich crony, and therefore perhaps doubly dangerous. He may actually come up with some ideas of his own to implement.
Many other events have cascaded swiftly since Hunt’s PSA deal with Iraq’s Kurdistan: Senator Joseph Biden’s Defense Authorization Amendment calling for a loose federal structure for Iraq and supported by Texas Republican Senator Kay Hutchison (and many other Republicans); the Blackwater fiasco in Baghdad; the continuing drawdown of British troops in the Basra area; the visit of Russian President Putin to Tehran for the Caspian Summit; stepped up U.S. attacks on Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army (al-Sadr supports a strong central Iraqi government); and escalating cross-border PKK attacks inside Turkey.
What conclusions would any sentient observer in Iraqi Kurdistan, Baghdad, Turkey, Syria, or Iran draw from these cascading events? Here are three likely ones:
(1) The Bush Administration is now moving swiftly toward a “soft” partition of Iraq into three largely autonomous regions: an oil-rich Shiite-dominated region in the south, an oil-rich Kurdish region in the north, and a resource-poor, mixed Sunni and Shiite region in the center and west. There will be ample bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for this divide-and-conquer approach.
(2) The “soft” partition will surely embolden Iraqi Kurdish nationalists to accelerate their efforts to create a Kurdish nation state encompassing Kurds in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. The Kurds seem already to have begun stepping up their military tempo in cross-border raids.
(3) Bush and Cheney, with their current escalation of threatening rhetoric against Iran, seem to have set their sights on wreaking the same sort of destruction upon Iran that they have wreaked upon Iraq, likely with the same goal of national disintegration and partition. Besides U.S. support for the PJAK and MEK to conduct guerrilla operations in Iran, note also the reports of U.S. support for the Baluch militant group Jundullah to conduct assassinations and kidnappings in Iranian Baluchistan.
The Turks seem to have come to the realization that their national interests are diametrically opposed to the Bush Administration’s neocon plans for the region. Note, for example, this report that the Turks have warned Israel not to use Turkish air space for attacks on Syria. (Note the same report’s claims about stern Russian and Chinese warnings.) Note also Syrian President Bashar Assad’s mid-October visit to Turkey and Syria’s support for Turkey in its confrontation with the Kurds.
What shall we look for next? A high-level visit between Turkey and Iran would be a clear signal of what is to come: a concerted effort by Turkey, Iran, and Syria to crush Kurdish guerrilla activity and national aspirations. The Turks would surely also like to encourage Iraqi nationalists–Shiite and Sunni–to restore Iraqi central authority over Kurdistan. The reality is, however, that the Iraqi Army lacks the capability to confront anyone, least of all the well-armed and well-led Kurds. There seems to be no conclusive military solution in sight. The situation can only become increasingly chaotic.
Even more startling would be a sudden warming of relations between Turkey and Russia and Russian public expressions of support for Turkey in its dispute with the Kurds.
So here we all sit on top of an in increasingly active volcano. The Turks seem to be very close to concluding that Turkish aims largely coincide with Iranian aims and with the aims of Iraqi nationalists (as opposed to soft federalists or outright separatists). At this very moment a large Turkish force has assembled at the Iraqi border, and the cross-border bombing and shelling has already begun. Syria from the sidelines is providing the Turks with what little political support it can. The Syrians will also surely put a close watch on Kurdish activity in Syria.
If coming days bring a regional conflict or worse, we can reasonably judge Ray L. Hunt to have been the Bush/Cheney Administration’s key catalyst for the cataclysm. The moment that Hunt sealed the deal with Kurdistan on September 8th was the moment that the regional powers fully comprehended what the Bush/Cheney Administration truly had in mind for the region: the age-old imperial formula of divide, conquer, and loot the resources, in this case, the oil. The looting will be accomplished through production sharing agreements highly favorable for Big Oil, but for the peoples and governments of the region–other than the local ruling elites who sign the agreements–not so much, as Borat would observe.
Of course, Gavrilo Princip’s assassination of Archduke Ferdinand did not really cause World War I. The German, Austrian, Russian, British, and French Empires were all armed to the teeth, saddled with mediocre jingoist leaders, and eager to assert themselves in the great imperial game of maps and markers. The bullet fired by Gavrilo Princip merely affected the timing of the cataclysm.
Likewise, Ray L. Hunt’s oil PSA with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government will not be the cause of the coming regional or global conflict. As events unfold we can reflect on the parallels between the Serbian nationalism of 1914 and the Kurdish nationalism of 2007. But it is the neocon grand strategy to shatter and then remake the Middle East to look something like this that provides the fundamental impetus for the coming conflict.
Crony capitalist Ray L. Hunt’s PSA contract with the Kurds was simply the catalyst for the neocons’ long-planned cataclysm in the Middle East.
Just as Gavrilo Princip’s name has lived in infamy, so may Ray L. Hunt’s.