Kurdistan: the state-to-be
Peter Lyukimson, Israel. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
In recent times, the attention of many Israeli experts on the Middle East is focused on the Kurdish issue and an attempt to estimate chances for establishing an independent Kurdsih state in the region. The form and borders of the state-to-be would influence further developments in the region, as well as the military and political situation there.
The Kurds, who live mainly in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, are the biggest ethnic group in the world without an independent state of their own. For more than a century they have been fighting for the right for self-identification, but all their dreams about independent Kurdistan are only dreams. The events of the last decade in Iraq seemed to bring them closer to their dream, while the civil war in Syria gives it another powerful impetus.
It should be noted that even though the Kurds are Sunnis, unlike their coreligionists Arabs in Syria, they have never fought against the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad. Moreover, they were thought to be its allies. However, right after the beginning of resorts in Syria, leaders of the Kurds who lived in the country stated that they were going to decide themselves how to live. Many political scientists considered the statements as a fact of betrayal of Assad by the Kurds, but later odd things began to happen.
Bashar Assad didn’t disturb the Syrian Kurds and withdrew government troops from their territory without fighting, giving them an opportunity to do what they wanted. It enabled him to focus on the struggle against the so called opposition troops which were based on Islamic terrorists, first of all the world jihad militants who came from various countries.
In their turn the Kurds didn’t join opponents of Assad and began to develop their territory. For a short period they established 19 commissions which began to form the national police, construct checkpoints on their borders, improve infrastructure, collect taxes, open Kurdish-speaking schools, and reconstruct local industry and agriculture. In recent years Syrian Kurdistan has turned into almost a full-scale autonomy and has become an island of stability and relevant prosperity in Syria.
However, “the heart of Kurdistan” has always situated in Iraq. Today the Kurdish district of Iraq is actually a separate independent canton (at the same time, the Kurds are pushed out of other Arab regions of the country), while Iraq resembles a confederation. The Iraqi Kurdistan which is governed by the ethnic parliament became the most economically and politically stable territory in Iraq, and it also improves the Kurds’ positions in establishing an independent state.
The main treasure of Iraqi Kurdistan is oil. It has the sixth biggest resources of black gold in the world. Meanwhile, except for agriculture, all other spheres are underdeveloped; that’s why the Iraqi Kurds have to rely on neighboring Turkey in providing a normal standard of living. Today the turnover between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey is $9 billion, and after signing a new agreement on oil export to Turkey, it will reach $20 billion.
The import of goods from Turkey occupies 80% of all goods available in Iraqi Kurdistan, while 60% of registered companies are Turkish.
Along with economic profit the union between Barzani and Erdogan brought political benefits to Turkey. Barzani who is a conservative and understands the role of Islam in the spiritual life of the nation can’t stand Marxists from PKK and doesn’t approve terrorist methods. That is why when he became the national leader, Iraqi Kurdistan stopped supporting PKK; and considering reforms provided by Erdogan, the organization weakened. Therefore, Kurdish terrorism weakened as well, which used to strike Turkey painfully.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget about the Iranian Kurds who are discriminated in Iran, like Azerbaijanis. Ostracism of the Kurds in Iran is encouraged by the fact that they are Sunnis. At the same time, the Iraqi Kurds are deep in internal quarreling; they have never been united or stood together.
An absence of ethnic unity has always been and remains the main problem of the Kurds. All political forces in the nation want to establish an independent state, but each of them sees the future of the state differently. Mainly, it prevented holding a conference in August 2013, in which leaders of all Kurdish movements from the four countries had to participate.
Anyway, whether Kurdistan will appear or not, the continuous process of the Kurds’ awaking will influence the region, and the countries of the region, as well as the international society in general, should consider this.