Strategist: US must stand for creation of Kurdish state in Iraq

Only in this way will the West be able to exert its lasting influence on this region

BAGHDAD, August 8, 2017, 09:15 – REGNUM Kurds, who live in a mountainous region that includes parts of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, are the largest ethnic group in the world, which does not have its own state.

At the same time, representatives of this people made attempts to change the state of things since the beginning of the 20th century, but all their aspirations were severely suppressed. Nevertheless, there is every reason, in particular for the United States, to support the Kurds who rendered invaluable assistance in the defeat of IGIL (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation) in their state undertakings, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami writes in an article for The Strategist.

The diplomat notes that, of course, the creation of the “Greater Kurdistan”, which includes all the territories on which Kurds constitute the majority, is still impossible. If along the way the intra-Kurdish differences are overcome, the Kurds will still face a large number of geostrategic obstacles.

In particular, the probability of independence of Kurds in Turkey is extremely low, where the main organization – the representative of this ethnic group is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). This organization, speaking for a secular nationalism of a Marxist kind, as the author notes, for many decades waged a struggle with the Turkish government. At the same time, the Turkish authorities are doing their best to counter the creation of a Kurdish state on their territory.

Erdogan’s aspiration to put an end to the state aspirations of the PKK is so strong that he makes every effort to prevent the Syrian Kurds from using their victories over the IGIL militants (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation) for the same purposes. The head of Turkey fears that the success of the Kurds in Syria will be an inspiration for their Turkish counterparts who will resume their own struggle for independence in the southeast of Turkey. It was this fear that was the basis of Erdogan’s campaign to create a buffer zone on the Turkish border, extending deep into the Syrian-controlled territory in Syria.

On the other hand, the Kurdish community in Iraq, represented by the Kurdish Regional Government of Kurdistan, has a real opportunity to create its own state. This body is a quasi-sovereign entity, under whose leadership are independent armed forces and the economy. And although it suffers from corruption and nepotism, like any other political organization in the region, this government is the only truly effective governing body in Iraq. Moreover, under his control is the most peaceful and stable region of the country.

The leaders of the Regional Government understand their advantages, therefore the ruling Democratic Party of Kurdistan plans to hold a referendum on independence from Baghdad in September. However, even the loudest call for separation will not be sufficient to create its own state. To this end, the United States must all its authority to support the pro-Western Kurdistan Regional Government and offer it strong support in achieving its independence.

The fact is that 14 years after the disastrous military invasion of Iraq, the United States must recognize that “a single, stable, democratic and federal Iraq,” as it was described by one of the official representatives of the US State Department, is nothing more than a chimera. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country’s political system underwent a significant polarization on the basis of confessionality, which made the Shiites oust Sunni in general and Kurds in particular. And it was the deprivation of Sunnis of their place in governing the country and was the key reason for the emergence of IGIL (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation).

In addition, to date, Iraq is not an ally of the United States, being, in fact, under the external administration of Iran.

To the dismay of the Kurds and other Iraqi Sunnis, Shiite armed groups controlled by Baghdad and Tehran, such as “Hasdal Shabi”, fill the vacuum left by the militants.

Under these conditions, the author points out, the example of Yugoslavia is illustrative, demonstrating that when a split on ethnic or religious grounds occurs, only the division of the country can be the most effective way to peace.

And such a Kurdish state has a real opportunity for prosperity: an independent Kurdistan can combine the wealth of its subsoil with the tradition of stable and pragmatic governance, on the basis of which a stable democracy can emerge. Such a course of events will undoubtedly become a victory for pro-Western forces in the Middle East.

Even Turkey can find such a variant acceptable.

Thus, the US and Turkish governments agree to distinguish between the Kurds of Iraq and the Turkish Kurds, a state for which there can be no question. Moreover, Ankara maintains strong ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government-expanding bilateral trade volumes and stretching their pipelines to them, as Erdogan’s government sees them as a counterweight to the Turkish PKK.

In addition, US President Donald Trump, who stopped supporting the anti-government forces in Syria, in fact, gave the country to Russia and Iran, so the Sunni-led Turkey more than ever needs a strategic buffer against Shiite Iraq and Syria.

While the Trump administration – not to mention the Iraqi national government led by Prime Minister Haider Abadi – claims that the Kurdish referendum, not to mention the separation of the region from Iraq, will lead to destabilization of the country. Some experts argue that such a move could encourage Iraqi voters to vote in the 2018 elections for a more radical Shia government, which will be even less positive about the Kurds.

However, with US support, such an outcome can be avoided. In fact, the construction of a true Sunni alliance, which would include an independent Kurdistan, is in the interests of the United States. The Palestinians, who have been too long on the losing side in the Middle East, can enrich this union even more.

Thus, the author concludes, although Trump’s administration seeks to contain the influence of the Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis in the Middle East, simply by offering more weapons to Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-controlled forces, the White House can not. Washington needs to pay attention to the aspirations of the oppressed and marginalized peoples, from the Kurds to freedom, democracy and good governance. Only in this way will the West be able to exert its lasting influence on this region.


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