Stanislav Ivanov: “The problem of establishing a Kurdish state is not relevant today”
Interview by Vestnik Kavkaza
Senior Researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Ph.D. in history and Ph.D. in economics Stanislav Ivanov told VK about Syria, Turkey, the Kurds and the North Caucasus. Today we publish the first part of the interview concerning the Kurdish problem.
- Do you think the Kurds can speed up settlement of the Syrian conflict?
- I don’t think so. Today the Kurds take a positively neutral position and have no intention of fighting for any side. The inter-Arab conflict won’t bring anything positive to them. However, today they have received no guarantees from the armed opposition and international terrorists, who are out of control. Of course the Kurds cannot fight for the armed opposition. They await a settlement of the conflict. Notwithstanding who will rule in Damascus, the most important thing for them are the rights and freedoms of the Kurds protected in a new constitution, new laws.
For sure, both governmental circles and the armed opposition have people who would like to break the neutrality and involve the Kurds in the slaughter. It is no accident that about 450 peaceful Kurds died in a recent terrorist attack. I think there will be new provocations. The armed opposition cannot promise a powerful position to the Kurds in a future state, so their major efforts are aimed at defense.
The future state will or won’t be headed by Bashar Assad, but it will be totally different. I think it will be like Iraq. The Alawi minority which supports Bashar Assad will be replaced by Sunnis. They could use the Arab factor; the Arabs will take leading positions, like Shiah Arabs in Iraq today, and they would have difficult relations with Iraqi Kurdistan. Permanent confrontations continue. It will take some time to establish the new Syrian state, the Kurds will try to do their best in defending their rights. The Arabs will fight for maintaining their privileges. However, it is a natural process.
We hope that this bloodshed will end as soon as possible. For how long can it be endured? 100 thousand killed, 300-400 thousand injured, 2 million refugees. For such a small country it is a tragedy for a thousand years. Now I can see that the bloodshed cannot be stopped without foreign interference. If the Americans decided to provide the Free Syrian Army with armaments, the Kurds should get arms for self-defense as well. The international community should close the borders. Terrorists from all over the world are going there. About 10-12 thousand or even more of them are fighting there. It is senseless to hold talks with them. They should be destroyed. International terrorists cannot be good or bad. A terrorist is a terrorist. Unfortunately, this position of Russia is not supported in the West. They think that everybody who fights Assad deserves to be supported.
- What can you say about the Kurds’ position in Turkey?
- During the last year some progress could be seen in a settlement of the Kurdish problem by peaceful means. Probably a big role was played by the talks between special forces and Abdullah Ocalan, who called for a peaceful settlement. Probably the Kurds are beginning to understand that they cannot attain their rights and freedoms through murdering policemen. The situation in Turkey has kicked in. Many factors have united into one and Erdogan met the Kurds halfway, they met the government halfway, as well as the international community. As a result, Iraqi Kurdistan played the role of a mediator.
The current road map is fair: to withdraw armed militants, to continue peace talks, to give rights and freedoms to the Kurds. It is important to emphasize that the Kurds are not mountain Turks, but a minority, and it is not worse than the native majority, and they should be represented in the parliament, the authorities, the army and the police.
I think this Turkish route will someday be taken by Iraq. It is early to speak about Syria, because there are no authorities there today. I don’t see any other routes. If the Turkish Kurds get rights equal to the Turks, it can be considered as a model.
- Can the Kurds establish their own independent state?
- The problem of establishing a Kurdish state is not relevant today. At first their position should be equal to the position of indigenous nations, international organizations should be founded. The Kurdish language consists of several dialects, Kurds do not always understand each other. A Kurdish literary language should be created, as well as a Kurdish cultural autonomy. One shouldn’t jump ahead of oneself and establish a state artificially. A state should protect its citizens. If Erdogan is to protect the Kurds in a new Turkey, they will think twice about whether they need an independent state. The Iraqi Kurds don’t want to separate from Iraq. They gain revenues from oil production, they have their own budget, their own parliament, laws, constitution, judicial system, police, armed forces, they have about 30 foreign offices in other countries. Why should they separate? They feel comfortable in the new Iraq. If the same conditions are provided in other countries where Kurds live, the question will be irrelevant.