Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
It looks like little old Scotland’s referendum on independence is proving to be a catalyst for similar movements around the world. The Scottish precedent has the potential to cause a great deal of upheaval, as previously recognised international borders (often rooted in the imperialist past) melt away and fledgling nation states spring up. As a good old fashioned liberal, I view this as a good thing. Why shouldn’t people be able to vote on who governs them? I’ll admit I don’t hold too much interest in the vote for Scottish independence, other than the provocative view if they are allowed to vote on remaining part of the Union, shouldn’t we English also be granted the opportunity to decide whether or not to allow them (and their tax subsidies) to stay?! But before I unleash another wave of Twitter abuse against our site, let’s move swiftly on to events in Kurdistan.
This morning, news crossed the wires that the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, intends to hold a referendum on independence within months. The swift progress of the ISIS rebellion has highlighted how weak Iraq’s central government is and the Kurds appear to have taken quick advantage of this. A few weeks ago we heard that Kurdish troops moved into Kirkuk, to act as a bulwark against further ISIS moves north, and now they’ve executed another brilliant flanking manoeuvre with this plan for a popular vote.
The timing of the ISIS rebellion has been most fortuitous for the Kurds. How the Turkish government is going to feel about this is another matter, but the announcement by the Kurds is clever. Quite rightly, President Barzani has asked the international community why his people should be expected to suffer the ills of Iraqi instability.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently immediately thrown his country’s support behind the referendum. This gives the Kurdish plan its first international endorsement and it is hard to see how other countries will be able to oppose it. As far as Britain is concerned, all the Kurds need to do is point to the Scottish poll in September, while Russia has been supportive of votes held by Ukrainian separatists.
Assuming the referendum does happen, I can’t see anything other than an overwhelming vote in favour of the formation of a new state. The international reaction to this will be fascinating. With US forces operational again in Iraq, hopefully this will be enough to prevent a civil war. However, given that the Iraqi central government hasn’t been able to handle the handful (and in military terms 15,000 combatants is a “handful”) of ISIS renegades, it is hard to see what they might hope to achieve against the well organised and armed Kurdish Peshmerga.
For shareholders in Gulf Keystone (GKP), watching these developments should be of key interest. Once the AGM is out of the way in a few weeks, if the Kurdish move for independence gains momentum and draws in support, this could put one hell of a fair win behind Gulf’s share price.
As ever, this is pure armchair speculation, but I enjoyed the little debate in the Syrian piece I wrote a few weeks ago, so all comments below are welcome.
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