By Dr Aland Mizell:
The past centuries of the Middle East domination by the Arabs, Persians, and Turks have been a major historical aberration. All aberrations end eventually. The Kurds have returned to center stage again. However, many Kurdish leaders do not understand this, or they do understand but because of their egos, selfishness, and mental maps, they have been trapped by their narrow-minded thinking and self-interests. Leaders as well as friends of the Kurds should realize that we are entering a completely different historical era. It is going to be an era where the Kurds will have their own state.
The Kurds are always making some serious strategic mistakes in their dealings with each other. They have sometimes sacrificed long-term interests in favor of short-term objectives and their global interests in favor of self-concerns. And in the process, they have undermined a critical catalyst to their independence. The United States, Russia, China, or the EU will not create a new Kurdish state. To do so might be seen as making up for their imposing borders nearly a century ago, but the Kurds have to make their own decisions. Kurdistan’s peaceful emergence, as it fights against ISIS, as the number one power is a modern geopolitical miracle. Great power transitions are accompanied by competition and conflict. The KRG has managed to establish workable state institutions, including an electoral system, institutions of local government, and an effective military in the Peshmerga. It is true those institutions are not perfect in terms of checks and balances, but which country is free from corruption? That is not to say that corruption should be allowed, absolutely not. It is to say that Kurdistan is ready.
The Kurds skillfully carried out military operations against ISIS in order to take control of Kirkuk, which proves that the Kurds can defend their territory, defend their borders, and bring stability to their neighboring countries. If Kurdish leaders are blind, then Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Turkish leaders are not. The policies of a good leader are founded on honesty. It is time for Kurdish leaders to remember to whom they must be honest. They must realize their potential in unity.
It is evident that after a century of misery and then a decade of failed federalism in Iraq, Kurds in Iraq need sovereignty. It is seen as fundamental to their survival in allowing them to borrow on international markets, from trade education to investment, so that in the international arena a Kurdish nation can also stand up for other Kurds living within the other countries. Let’s be clear; not all Kurds live within the different countries that are getting their independence, but Kurds in Iraq must. How is Turkey defending the rights of Turkmen in Iraq, Syria, and Central Asia? If there is a sovereign Kurdish country, can it do the same? Kurds have to make their own decisions, and external powers do not have a choice except to accept it. The Kurds should not raise the issue of independence, but instead move forward to obtain it.
Because the Middle East cannot solve the pending problems, the Kurds will help to resolve them. It will not create instability but rather bring stability. The Kurds have already proven themselves with the fight against ISIS. Even when the Iraqi Army abandoned the battlefronts, the Kurdish forces took them on in spite of the international community and the Obama administration abandoning them and not giving them the proper military equipment.
The Kurdish independence will contribute to and bring stability in the region. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Kurdish rebels in Turkey made a very strategic decision to continue their military campaign in lieu of a peaceful solution. While the international community is dealing with terrorism, the PKK cannot win the war by conducting a terror attack and killing soldiers. The Kurdish political party in Turkey achieved an important success but failed to maintain it. It was foolhardy and almost perpetrating a jest when some of the Kurdish leaders in the Kurdish cities declared independence thereby downplaying and degrading the Kurdish struggle for justice and equality. When the PKK brought its fight to the cities, most of the Kurds got hurt. It is time for the PKK and all other Kurds to stop the violence for retaliation and vigorously support the KRG in its independence. Most of the Kurdish political movement has focused on the concerns and the desire for autonomy or independence of the Kurds in their specific country. Within each country, some of them have had limited aspirations, making the biggest obstacle to Kurdish independence the Kurds themselves.
The international community cannot play the game of good Kurds and bad Kurds. The international community has the moral obligation to support Kurdish independence. It cannot just use the Kurds for their selfish geopolitical interests. It is time for them to be honest to recognize that the Sykes-Picot Agreement that led to the boundaries of the Middle East has failed, and, consequently, they should help to broker a new deal that allows for a Kurdish state. All along Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria wrongly resisted the Kurdish independence. To justify their demands, they claimed that an independent Kurdish state would be an American manufactured project designed to further split the Muslim world, but they fail to understand that the Kurds are Muslims too, and yet Muslims are oppressing them despite their being brothers. Obviously, the future depends on what the US-Middle East policy under Donald Trump will look like. If America really has ever been serious about democracy in the Middle East, then it should support 40-50 million Kurds having their own state–a secular, modern, and progressive Kurdish people, a nation that has fought for its right to exist for centuries.
Kurds cannot afford the killing of other Kurds. It is an immoral, cruel, unjust betrayal and even genocide for Kurds to fight against each other. Kurds should always try to keep their distance from all the big power players in the region. Those who say they have the Kurds’ back or support Kurdish independence have not committed to it. They might be taking some steps, but most of the time it is only lip service, and that commitment can change easily. International politics is not about charity; it is all about national interests. Look how quickly Russia went from working with the Kurds to selling them out for a couple of deals with Turkey. The same applies to Turkey, in its making peace with Russia and even accepting Assad’s staying in power. Thus, Kurds should have good relations with every major player in the region but rely on only themselves, which presupposes that they have good relations among themselves. Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Russia are balancing their support among Kurdish parties in a way to ensure that none can be stronger than the other. They apply the principle of divide and defeat.
The Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) failed to become a bridge between the PKK and Ankara or to persuade the PKK to come down from the mountain to be involved in politics by defending their rights democratically, but instead, the HDP continued to follow and listen to the agenda that the PKK gave them, perpetrating trouble in the Kurdish cities. Right now the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is the hegemonic party. There is no party to defeat it, although the HDP had the chance to be the championing party but failed to do so.
As it is well documented, the Kurds are the majority minority in the world with a population of 40-50 million but do not have their own state. This itself already explains a great deal about why the Kurds do not have their own state. They should have their own country first before they form all kinds of parties. The Kurds in Turkey are now in the process of forming another party, but that party will not be very useful either. It will take time to get the support of all the Kurds.
However, the Kurds are in an urgent transition because international politics change fast, and opportunities do not wait, One Kurdish party allied itself with Iran, and the other allied itself with Turkey, They cannot have an independent state if all Kurds are not united. Kurds should play their strong card in the region. Russia is already in the Middle East and jockeying to become a significant power. The Kurds should think twice about allying themselves with Russia or with America.
Iraq is already divided into three states. Iraq’s central government does not send the Kurd’s share of the revenue to the Kurdish people. The current security crisis shows that the Iraq military does not have the capacity to secure all of the Iraqi territory especially the entire Kurdish region. The only force that could protect and bring security to the Kurdish region is the Kurdish army that is now getting rid of ISIS in its territory. First, a resident must build his own house, and then later he can decorate the inside according to his culture, traditions, and reflections of who he is and what best suits him. Because he is free in his house, he can do anything he prefers. The Kurdish people should not devise so many other parties. What they need to do is to force the existent one to meet the demands of the Kurds.
Kurds around the world should be behind President Barzani and pressure him to ask for a referendum for Kurdish independence from Iraq, because without a Kurdish independent state, no one will respect the Kurds. This is the time to have a Kurdish country. Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia, are not friends of Turkey. Actually they are all competing with one another, but because of the Kurds, they are uniting and behind closed doors signing pacts against the Kurds and possibly the Kurdish country. The 21st century is the Kurdish century. If the Kurds do not secure their own sovereignty this time, they will never achieve it. The new Middle East projects must have Kurds with their own state in it. To accomplish this, the Kurds should take responsibility to show solidarity with all Kurdish leaders and push for a democratic, peaceful Kurdish state, and then the civilized international community has the moral responsibility to show solidarity and support for a new democratic Kurdish state. A Kurdish state is not a threat to its neighbors, but it will be a source of security and will take responsibility to help secure the borders of its neighbors and will not allow bandits or pocket of groups to operate from the Kurdish state. A failed state brings instability, but having a Kurdish state will bring stability to its neighbors. The Kurds should be a part of the international body as a free democratic Kurdish state.
Dr. Aland Mizell is with the MCI and a regular contributor to The Kurdistan Tribune, Mindanao Times.You may email the author at:email@example.com