Friday, September 12, 2014

Autonomous Enclaves

My Google Alert on Kurdistan led me to Michael Stephens' Blurred Lines, IS, and the Rise of Autonomous Enclaves:

The future appears to be a collection of statelets, autonomously run by quasi-governments that maintain full security control, and tightly enforce the movement of populations within the regions in which they govern. Assuming the Islamic State survives in some form or another, the appearance of the region is a mosaic of shifting boundaries, low level conflicts over territory and statelets struggling to form independent sovereign entities that can stand alone, in opposition to regional powers surrounding them.

Stephens describes how the Kurds of Iraq and Syria are now the de facto rulers of the borders between them. He has apparently gone to visit Rojava. Google maps wants to place Rojava rather deeply into Syria, so it looks like the Kurds have carved out a lot of territory. Or more precisely, it pretty much was their territory and now they are in a position to rule rather than be ruled.

It seems to me this is a very strong position, versus the Islamic State, which has an international flavor and a penchant for targets with little strategic value but high psychological value. I have always been skeptical about where they get their funding, and now that I've seen a few articles suggesting they are selling oil on the black market, I am wondering if there are truly black market refineries out there, or are certain governments simply closing their eyes to oil shipments because they want IS around to sell their citizens on more war.

Meanwhile, the multinationals will back the guys who will protect their assets. Not exactly the principled way to get free, but we take what we can get.

This is reminding me I need an autonomous enclave. But it also makes me think things are proceeding more or less the way I thought they would.

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