Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Kurdish Challenge

The Iraqi Kurds held a dignified, orderly referendum Sept. 25 that conformed with all the rules of a democratic vote. Afterward, they refrained from declaring the independence that is their right and that a century of treaties promised
them. Yet all the region's dictatorships immediately unleashed their ire on the Kurds, a small population whose only crime is to express the desire to be free, to flourish as an island of democracy and peace. Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria are threatening an air blockade, a land blockade, an oil embargo, and military intervention.
Are we facing Munich-grade appeasement? Are we agreeing that might makes right? Will we give in to the world's consummate blackmailers?
Is the West - and the U.S. in particular - making a colossal error of judgment in not grasping that there is something suicidal about abandoning a brave and loyal ally in favor of its adversaries? Or perhaps the Kurdish people - who are not Arabs, are secular, believe in pluralist democracy, practice equal rights for women, and have consistently protected, rescued and taken in minorities - are one more of the world's expendable peoples.
There is something absurd about allowing authoritarian regimes to preach constitutional law to a people who only yesterday were under their boot. Iraqi authorities should respond, without delay or precondition, to the offer of dialogue the Kurds have extended to them.
(Wall Street Journal)

The Kurds Are the Largest Stateless People on Earth - Michael J. Totten
Roughly six million of the world's 28 million Kurds live in Iraq. They are the most staunchly pro-American and anti-Islamist people in the entire region by far and were, for a time, the only ones truly willing and able to take on ISIS and win. None of the Iraqi Kurdish parties and movements are terrorists. Kurdistan is a nation in all but name while Iraq is a nation in name only. Of course the Kurds want out.

Iraqi Kurdistan does not threaten anybody. Iraq's Kurds have never invaded anybody, have no interest in invading anybody, and have never supported terrorists or militias on anyone else's territory, and especially not on their own.

The Kurds are far better friends of the U.S. than Turkey or Iraq ever have been or ever will be. By punishing our friends and taking the sides of enemies and non-friends, the predictable result is the empowerment of our enemies at the expense of our friends.
(World Affairs Journal)

Century-Old Kurdish Statehood Dream Not Handiwork of Israel 
- Bashdar Ismaeel

A frequent line emanating from Turkey and Iran is that the Kurdish drive toward independence is an initiative fostered by Israel, seeking to divert attention from a peaceful vote where the voice of millions of Kurds was abundantly clear.

First, any support from Israel, a key power in the Middle East, is not a stain on the Kurds. Second, Kurdistan was promised a country of its own long before Israel was even created. As the largest nation in the world without a state, and the fourth largest ethnicity in the Middle East, even hostile regional players struggle to justify why Kurdistan is not worthy of the principle of self-determination. Kurdistan has continuously suffered under the Iraqi umbrella.

It is the Kurds who were betrayed by imperial powers over a century ago, then through repressive policies of respective governments, and again in 2003, under the promise that a new Iraq would usher in a new plural, federal, and democratic chapter in the country. Having waited decades for their time, the majority of Kurds would choose statehood in spite of the costs this may entail.


John MacArthur said...

It would be a travesty if the Kurds did not achieve some degree of autonomy but, the Turkish government is insecure and suspicious, systematically undoing everything that Kemal Atatürk worked for.

Unless the Turks give way, there will be violence, perhaps genocide.

Bruce said...

I’d like to see Turkey removed from NATO That would be a nice start. In the mean time, the US seems to be the only moral force that can correct the historical mistake of leaving Kurdistan off the map.

John MacArthur said...

...and in the aftermath of a victory against ISIS, the Iraqis might be persuaded to see reason if the aid pot was big enough. To hell with the Turks - they blew their cover a long time ago and Russia won't intervene on their behalf.