Monday, April 10, 2017

Preconditions for Kurdish Independence Advance

Kurds are sizable separatist threats in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Iraq is now the only reason I prefer them not to have their own state despite their reliability as an ally in the region.

Not that the Kurds don't deserve their own state. They do.

Nor do I mind it if Kurdish separatism harms Syria or Iran. They are enemies and if the Kurds hurt them, I support the Kurds.

Nor was I eager to harm a NATO ally like Turkey. But Turkey's new hostility to the West, flirtation with Russia, and general drift to autocracy leaves me in the position of no longer feeling America should defend Turkey on the Kurdish question if the Turkish drift away from NATO continues.

But the Iraq issue still stands in my way, where Kurds are looking to cash in on their support for the war on ISIL to separate from Iraq:

Iraq's Kurds plan to hold a referendum on independence this year to press their case for "the best deal" on self-determination once Islamic State is defeated, a senior Kurdish official said.

The Kurds already run their own autonomous region in northern Iraq and the official, Hoshiyar Zebari, indicated the expected 'yes' outcome in a vote wouldn't mean automatically declaring independence.

As I said, the Kurds deserve that reward. But ...

Iraq desperately needs the Kurdish component to make Iraqi politics less of a Sunni Arab versus Shia Arab fight. Kurds are Sunni but not Arab. Kurdish involvement makes politics more complicated and less of just a Sunni-Shia conflict.

Just as important, the Kurds are an additional force in resisting pro-Iranian elements within the Shia portion of Iraq (like Moqtada al-Sadr, that Iranian hand puppet). Without the Kurds, who have more credibility with Shias because of the long Kurdish struggle against both Saddam and Sunni Arab terrorists, the pro-Iran elements have more weight in post-Kurdish exit Iraq politics.

So to contain Iran and protect Iraq, I want the Kurds to remain part of Iraq.

For the Kurds, who would remain landlocked in independence, someone's good graces are necessary for independence to work by having an outlet to the outside world. Turkey and Iran are unlikely to be friendly to Kurdish trade and free movement if their territory is lost or under threat by a Kurdish state.

Syria might be receptive as the civil war rages to gain a friend, but the civil war will make that outlet worthless in practice. And Syria might change their mind if Assad wins his civil war.

So an independent Kurdish state needs a friendly Iraq. Will Iraq let the Kurds go with no ill will?

If not, the Kurds don't have an outlet to the outside world through Iraqi territory.

If Iraq becomes secure against Iranian dominance and if Iraq decides that it can live with Kurdish independence as a friendly neighbor, I will have no problem with Kurdish independence.

So for me, post ISIL fight, I think the Kurds have to throw their weight into the fight to build rule of law in Iraq and to eject Iranian influence from Iraq.

Do that and Iraq will feel more secure and prosperous and may feel no more anger than Czechs felt for the separation of Slovakia.

A Western effort to defeat the mullahs of Iran would complement that Kurdish effort, of course.