Alwaght- Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdish region Masrour Barzani visited on Sunday Jordan and met the Kingdom's monarch Abdullah II. The visit, which saw Barzani leading a delegation, was said to have focused on expanding the relations between Erbil and Amman.
Barzani in a press conference said that the visit was paid also to thank Jordan for its standing beside the Kurds in their fight against the ISIS terrorist group. He also emphasized on the two sides’ intention to develop bilateral political and trade ties. But if we look at their trade relations, they are not that large-scale to be an aim for the visit. So, other goals should be considered for the diplomatic trip of the Kurdish region PM to the Arab country. Three theories can explain why Barzani visited Jordan. Here they are:
Saudi Arabia and the UAE employ the Kurdish cause instrumentally in the region
One of the main issues that can be raised in relation to Barzani’s Jordan trip is Saudi and Emirati use of the Kurdish cause as a tool to secure their interests in the region. In the Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum in 2017 there were reports about the UAE’s funding of a pro-split campaign of Masoud Barzani, the then president of the Kurdish Regional Government. In late December, the UAE in a move provocative to Turkey invited to Abu Dhabi Mazloum Kobani, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey labels the Kurdish militant group, which is an ally to the US in northern Syria, a terrorist group and since 2017 launched several military operations inside Syria to push the group back from gaining ground on the Turkish-Syrian borders.
In the present conditions, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have arranged the visit to Amman to send the KRG a message of support. Their final goal, many experts agree, is to step up pressures on the Syrian and Turkish governments using the Kurdish element.
Meanwhile, Masrour Barzani who has last month visited Germany and attended the Munich Security Conference (MSC) intends to enter a kind of deal with the Saudi-led Arab camp so that he on the one side can help them realize their regional policy and on the other side garner economic and political support for the Kurdish government.
Perpetuating the US military presence in the region
Jordan stands as one of the main countries hosting the American forces in the region. Now Iraq more than any other time is pressing for the expulsion of the American forces from its territories. But President of the KRG Nechirvan Barzani and the PM brazenly supported the stay of the American troops under the excuse of their role in the battle against terrorism in the country. Now, it seems that the Kurdish officials have discussed with the American diplomats the stay of the American forces in Iraq.
In fact, despite the Iraqi parliament’s majority bill to expel the American troops from Iraq, Barzani is testing KRG chance once again to bring White House support to Erbil. The US in crucial junctures betrayed the Kurds both in Syria and Iraq more than once but Barzani insists to tell Washington that the Kurds are genuine allies to the Americans. This is to attract the American political and military backing. Meanwhile, Barzani is taking a look at Kurdistan's independence amid playing a regional game.
Barzani seeks anti-Baghdad pressure to fix US position in Iraq
Another theory about the Barzani trip is his siding with the Americans to put strains on Baghdad. Using the Erbil pressure card and threatening to split Iraq, the Americans seek to press the Iraqi leaders to walk back from their insistence on the American withdrawal from their country.
What was likely in Amman was a secret meeting between Barzani and an American delegation. The American delegation could have tried to indirectly pressure Baghdad through the Kurdish region to extract from Iraqi officials compromises regarding the American position in Iraq. Their major focus is that the upcoming government in Iraq should not take practical steps to expel the American troops from the country, something providing the American interests in Iraq for the next decade.