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finds the Middle East at a singular moment in its history. It is hard to recall
a period when so many fundamental geopolitical shifts have
occurred just as societies, states and alliances in the
region were all starting to fall apart. Four disruptive
trends can be identified, any one of which would have sufficed to produce regional
instability in the not-too-distant past. Today, their combination creates a
formidable dynamic for armed conflict.
The independence referendum
in Iraqi Kurdistan was clearly a miscalculation by President Massoud Barzani.
His assumption that Erbil could present a bill to Baghdad for services rendered
in defeating Daesh was swiftly trumped by realpolitik. Now, the question is
what can be saved from the debacle, and whether war can be avoided in Kurdistan
Ambassador Zvi Mazel
Iraqi Kurdistan’s disastrous
decision to press ahead with an independence referendum has allowed the Iraqi federal
government to reassert control over Kirkuk and its vital oil fields. But an
even bigger consequence of Baghdad’s resurgence could be a potential conflict
with its erstwhile sponsor, Tehran. Any such confrontation would quickly become
regional in scope, bringing in Saudi Arabia, the United States and possibly