January 24, 2013

A Kurdish State - to Be or Not to Be? So What Is the Question About?

We seem to have changed our attitude to revolutions, giving them romantic, so to speak, "berry-garden names", doesn’t relate to violence: “Revolution of Roses” in Georgia (November 2003), “Revolution of Tulips” in Kirghizia (March 2005), “Revolution of Dates” in Egypt (January 2011). As if this way we can avoid the outburst of bacchanalia, prevent a revolution's negative, which will definitely overwhelm the country together with revolutionary slogans.

“Arab Revolution” is no exception; it came to the countries of the Middle East in December 2010 and has stayed there up to now. The spring has become a protracted one and unpredictable.

The goals of the “floral” revolutions have been demands from economic reforms to political transformations and to complete change of regimes. But the cost of the “spring” turned out to be high - 80 to 120 thousand people died in it. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also done its calculations, in dollars, and found out that losses of the main countries had made more than 55 billion US dollars. The Deputy General Secretary of the League of Arab States (LAS) on economy Muhammed al Tavajiri declared that direct financial losses alone from the revolutionary upheavals cost Arab countries 75 billion dollars at the least!

…“Arab Spring” began with protests in Tunis on the 18th December, 2010 after Muhammed Buazizi had set himself on fire, in such a way showing his protest against police corruption and cruelty. As the protests in Tunis succeeded, a wave of unrest hit Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, and then spread over to other Arab states. The most mass and better organized demonstrations often took place on Fridays, after the midday’s namaz.

Having got frightened of new upheavals and losing power, leaders of Arab countries one after another rushed to carry out their own social-political reforms (Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Algeria, and Qatar). In some countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunis, Yemen) governments were overthrown, while in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain the protests were brutally suppressed, in Syria the war is still going on. In Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen positions of radical Islamists have got significantly stronger.

At the time of regional unrests a number of leaders announced about their wish to resign at the end of their terms. Thus, President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir announced that he would not struggle for being re-elected in 2015, and so did the Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki whose term ends in 2014, though in the country there have been many demonstrations with the demand of his immediate rezign. Mass protests in Jordan became a reason for the dismissal of two governments by King Abdallah.

Leader of "Al-Qaeda"Ajman az-Zavahiri

Leader of "Al-Qaeda"Ajman az-Zavahiri.
Source dp.ru

Geopolitical consequences of the revolutions have attracted everybody’s attention. Some leaders of the “spring” have been proposed as candidates for Nobel’s Peace Prize. Quite eloquently declared about his support to the “Arab Spring” the leader of Al-Qaeda Ajman az-Zavahiri, “We are at the side of the Arab Spring, which will bring along a true Islam”.

But everything did not end here; the triumphant-destroying march of the revolutionary spring is going on. Now we may suggest that the “Arab Spring” has come to Iraqi Kurdistan too.

Who are the Kurds? Let me make a little excursus into the history of the Kurd people.

In the ethnic aspect the Kurds are an Indo – European Iranian – speaking people, neither Arabs, nor Turks. So, the “Arab Spring” does not match, as the Kurds are not Arabs. If the producer of the revolutions does not change his likings, we may expect that the revolution in Kurdistan will be either a “Kurdish Dawn” or “Kurdish Spring”.

At the present moment the Kurds are one of numerous peoples of this region-30-40 million, i.e., the 4th by quantity ethnos of the region - after the Arabs, Persians and Turkish. Their number can be compared with the population of such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria or Canada. Besides, it is a well organized, ideologically solid community which has a big experience of underground activities and armed struggle.

Kurdistan — the region of compact living of the Kurds at the junction of borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria
Kurdistan — the region of compact living of the Kurds at the junction of borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Source 11pr.net/2012/09/07/tureckaya-armiya-nachala-nastuplenie-na-povstancev-kurdov

The Kurds are the most numerous people in the world that have not got its statehood. And, lastly, the Kurds are a divided people who have to live at the junction of borders of 4 states – Turkey (15-17 million people), Iraq (4-4.5 million people), Syria and Iran (about 7.5 million people). Apart from this, about 2.5 million Kurds are spread over many countries of Europe and America. The territory of their compact living makes 450 thousand square kilometers, which excels by territory many European countries, such as Sweden, Italy or Great Britain.

The roots of the Kurds problem go deep into the far 20s of the XX century: in 1920th the Treaty of Sevres was signed, which sealed the division of the Osman Empire. This treaty meant that the Kurds, alongside with other peoples of the region, would be able to gain independence and establish their own statehood. But, only 3 years after of it, the decisions of the agreement were revised because Great Britain and Turkey were against it. To put the rich for oil region of the Kurdish city of Kirkuk under the control, London included these and other inhabited by the Kurds territories into Iraqi kingdom, which was in vassal dependence to London. As a result, according to the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 the Kurds territories were divided among four states. As usual, the opinion of the Kurds themselves was not interesting to anyone. Under the circumstances, the Kurds had only two ways out - either to get assimilated or to leave with arms in hands into the mountains to partisan bases. And with the shout “Kurdistan or Death” the Kurds have been fighting for Great Kurdistan for already 90 years. That is how the Kurds problem was created.

To this moment the Kurds have been aiming at restoring the historical justice, achieving equality with the Arab, Turkish and Persian. They turned out to be divided among the countries at the base of the policy of which there had been put the Turkish, Persian, Arab nationalism, the idea of “sole nations”, which did not leave room for national developments of the Kurds and resulted in a most terrible national catastrophe. But, despite the absence of their own statehood, they managed to preserve their national traditions, culture and language.

It has to be admitted that at different points of time the Kurds succeeded. Thus, for example, in 1920s at the territory of the Turkish Kurdistan for three years there existed a self-declared Kurdish Republic of Ararat, in 1946 at the territory of the Iranian Kurdistan for a short time was declared Iran Mahabat Republic. Very popular with the Kurd remains the idea of the establishment of “Great Kurdistan”, that is, of an independent state at the whole territory of the ethnic Kurdistan, and as the first stage is considered possibility of gaining by other parts of Kurdistan the same status, which has Iraqi Kurdistan which has a wide autonomy status. But it has gained recently.

Let us ask ourselves the question: is establishment of Kurdistan in the nearest future possible? Not of the Great Kurdistan of which all Kurds dream, just of a Kurdish state at the territory of one country?

Then at the territory of which out of the four countries?

In Iran the Kurds can study at schools in their own language, they have a small quote at universities, Kurdish books, newspapers are published there, a scientific society works, but the Kurdish national movement is persecuted and its leaders are still in the deep underground.

After the victory of the Islam revolution in Iran in 1979 Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini said that the conception of ethnic minorities contradicts the ideas of Islam and that is why in Iran they consider the Iranian Kurds first of all citizens of Iran, and only then - the Kurds. More so, the Kurds in the Shia Iran are following of Sunni Islam, and that is why there is a religious war against them too. But Iran cannot suppress the Kurdish resistance to the end, either the military resistance - of the “Party for Free Life in Kurdistan” (PJAK), or the political one. At the moment there are many evidences of the fact that in Iran Kurdish parties have activated their efforts for creation of a joint front for taking decisions about the future of the Eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan.

Foreign Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
Foreign Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi.
Source news.headline.kz, inforos.ru

Foreign Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi during his recent visit to Ankara announced that Kurdish fighters are causing “common problems” both, to Turkey and to Iran. It may be so, if the PJAK is concerned, but the President of IRI Mahmud Ahmadinejad supports and “in the plot with Assad he organized an attack of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Eastern Province of Semdinly, bordering on Iran”, - Turkish media quote “The Telegraph”. They also informed that “in Turkey there work more than 100 Iranian agents, acting on the part of the Kurdistan Workers Party”. It will not be a great mistake to suggest that the USA and “MOSSAD” are trying to play the Kurdish card.

Logo of "Party for Free Life in Kurdistan" (PJAK)
Logo of "Party for Free Life in Kurdistan" (PJAK).

The Iranian intelligence states, that PJAK is financed by “MOSSAD”. At the territories of Iran over the last few years fighters of PJAK have carried out a few terrorist acts and armed attacks at Iranian military units, mainly against officers and units of “Islamic Revolution Guards Corps” (IRGC). The IRGC had to carry out anti-terrorist operations against PJAK. Some of PJAK’s fighters fled to the Iraqi Kurdistan, where they were chased by Iranian units, which even caused some tension on the border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.

PJAK 's fighters at training
PJAK 's fighters at training.
Source presstv.ir

As the PJAK in Iran and Turkey get large profits from drug trade and smuggling, Iranian Kurds look at them as at ordinary bandits.

It is very doubtful that the revival of Great Kurdistan will begin in Iran.

In Turkey the very word “Kurd” was forbidden. The Turkish authorities even created a special name for the Kurds - they were officially called them “mountain Turks”. In 1982 Turkey at last recognized existence of the Kurds in the country and in 1991 they were officially allowed to speak their native language, in 2001 the Kurds were allowed to sing Kurdish songs, and in 2004 the first Kurdish channel on TV was opened (TRT 6) and was cancelled the ban on private TV and radio channels. Turkey gave such freedoms to the Kurds not out of its love to them, but because solving the Kurdish problem is one of the conditions of Turkey’s joining the EU. But even now there are no Kurdish schools in the country, the Kurdish language is forbidden in official institutions, the Kurds have no right to register names in the Kurdish Latin and in the Criminal Code of Turkey - a member of NATO, potential member of the EU - there is an article suggesting a punishment for “Kurdishism”. Thus, a few years ago a City Mayor was under investigation for having allowed the playbills of the festival of Kurdish culture to be printed in Kurdish. He was brought to court for breaking the “Law on Turkish letters and rules of using them”.

The emblem of the Kurdish Workers Party
The emblem of the Kurdish Workers Party

In Turkey the struggle for independence of the Kurds is leading by the Kurdish Workers Party, which in 1985 proclaimed the beginning of the armed struggle for an independent Kurdistan and was announced a terrorist organization in the country. This party has its branches and bases in all surrounding countries. In Iran it is the “Party for Free Life in Kurdistan” (PJAK), in Syria - “Kurdish Democratic Union Party” (PYD).

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyir Erdogan more than once made attempts to make peace with the Kurds. He began official investigations of the mass extermination of the Kurds in 1990s, opened the first state TV channel in Kurdish.

Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyir Erdogan is for making peace with the Kurds
Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyir Erdogan is for making peace with the Kurds...
Source topwar.ru

In June 2012 Turkey’s Prime Minister once declared that the Kurdish language may be introduced into school curricula and will become a second additional language under the condition that there will be enough students wishing to study it.

Since 2008 Turkey’s Government has given up the policy of boycott of the Iraqi Kurdistan and begun leading the policy aiming at its complete economic integration. Under the pressure of domestic problems, Turkey continues to develop its relations with the Iraqi Kurdistan and intents to widen them to the political sphere. The Kurds believe that Turkey will soon break its relations with al-Maliki in particular, and with Shia regimes in general and will begin developing relations with other forces in the falling apart Iraq - such as Arab-Sunni and the Kurds. In his promises Erdogan has gone as far as his recent declaration to M. Barzani about Turkey’s support in case if the Iraqi Army attacks his potential state.

Analysts think that Ankara may tempt the independent Kurdistan by giving it a role of a potential and richly-stable source of oil, so badly needed by Turkey. Besides, Turkey sees a reliable and stable Kurdistan as a buffer between Turkey and hostile to it Iraq and Iran. Ankara, possibly, will make Kurdistan its ally against such an enemy as the Kurdish Workers Party. By the way, having established its strong presence in the “liberated” regions of the Syrian Kurdistan, Ankara is going to develop relations with Syrian Kurd too. The Kurdish Workers Party, in its turn, also wants to turn this territory into the base for activation of the Kurds’ struggle within Turkey itself.

At the same time, Erdogan in his hunt for Turkey’s regional hegemony, as analysts think, made a strategic mistake, having betrayed the President of Syria Bashar Assad, with whom he was at the same position about the Kurdish problem. As a result, the war has come up to Turkey’s borders. The Kurdish Working Party took an advantage of it and in July announced a new war to Erdogan. The PKK’s fighters have restarted attacks at the Turkish police and border garrisons.

Meanwhile Bashar Assad, having found himself in a hard situation, gave additional rights to his Kurds. The fighters from the PKK immediately increased their activity. Erdogan cannot suppress the PKK, even with the help of Iran, special services of which cooperate with Turkish colleagues in these issues.

Until recently Syria had been denying the very fact of the Kurds’ existence in the country, most of which were not Syria’s citizens, and were deprived of most elementary rights: to take state posts, to have Kurdish schools, cultural centers. Kurdish parties were illegal; hundreds of activists of the Kurdish movement are in prison. And only under the influence of the “Arab Spring”, and Syrian Muslim - Sunni’s protests lasting for months, Bashar Assad, trying to attract the Kurds to his side, eventually decided to give them citizenship. More so, he allowed them to organize armed units “for defense of their historic territories”, which fight against the “rebels” near the Turkish border, much to the dislike of Ankara.

According to “Trend News Agency”, in July 2012 fighting groups of the Free Syrian Army led by the “Democratic Union” party, took under their control Syrian Kurdish cities of Amouda, Afrin, Kamushlu and a number of others in the northern part of Syria. These cities and the Turkish Kurdish settlements in the south of Turkey formed a sole region which may mean the beginning of the union of the Kurds of Turkey and Syria de facto. Of course, it is still far from a real union and foundation of Kurdistan, either Syrian or Turkish one, but the Turkish newspaper “Hurriyet” at the end of July 2012 wrote, “Just a week ago we had a 400-kilometre border with the Kurds, and now another 800 kilometres may be added to it”.

Unquietening pain of the Kurds — Halabja
Unquietening pain of the Kurds — Halabja.
Source nasha.lv

In Iraq the Kurds’ existence had never been denied, more so, since 1970 there had existed Kurdish autonomy with its schools, universities and radio. But for supporting Iran in Iran-Iraq war ( 1980-1988), Saddam Hussein destroyed about 4000 Kurdish villages and towns, used chemical weapon against the peaceful population (in Halabja alone more than 5000 people were killed and dozens of thousands were wounded and maimed), turned out of the country about 200 thousand Kurds. In order to prevent their returning, gardens were cut down, wells were blown up, the Kurd houses and cemeteries were raised to the ground. All Kurdish employees were replaced by Arabs, streets were renamed in Arabian way, etc. Nearly half of the population of the Iraqi Kurdistan was resettled farther away from the border into so called “model settlements”, which in fact were reservations.

The Iraqi Kurdish autonomy, formed in 1991 after the first war in the Persian Gulf, was only nominally a subject of the Iraqi state. A wide and real autonomy the Kurds gained in the result of the USA’s intervention into Iraq in March of 2003. Americans originally were going to organize a “multi-ethnical Iraqi nation” by their own model, but the Kurdish President Masud Barzani refused to sign the new Constitution of Iraq, if it does not mention most wide autonomous rights of the Kurds, and he won! The Iraqi Kurdistan in 2003 got its own Parliament, Government, Armed Forces (Peshmerga), which at the present moment make about 90 thousand people, Security Service (organized, by the way, with the help of Israeli instructors), the right to disintegrate from Iraq, tax vacations for 10 years, etc.

A stable trend of uniting of Kurdish mass media can be noticed lately (more than a dozen of satellite TV and radio channels), which are playing for rapid rising of Kurdish national identity. In 2005 in Erbil an international airport was built, which connected the Iraqi Kurdistan to the outer parts of the world.

So, the Kurds are now actually one step away from independence. In reality, over the last decades, the Iraqi Kurdistan has become not only a model of a state for which they strive, but also a stronghold for all Kurds. This de-facto state:

  • develops intensive trade circulation of bordering parts of Kurdistan, is building a sole infrastructure, ensuring a rapid and stable growth of the economy of the whole Kurdistan;
  • turns into a real factor of the world economy new and new oil and gas resources at Kurdish territories;
  • builds the fundament for the national education in its four universities, where Kurdish youth from all parts of Kurdistan studies;
  • opens consulates and diplomatic representations of foreign counties, turning out into a subject of international Law;
  • realizes a social program aiming at increasing of Kurdish birthrate, which leads to the growth of their part in the ethnic balance of the countries, which had divided Kurdistan, and thus a sort of a demographic bomb for the whole Middle East is being laid.

Needless to state that establishment of an independent Kurdish state will activate similar intentions of Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran.

According to the point of view of analysts, and not only of western ones, the announcement about the establishment of an independent and self-relying Kurdish state in the nearest future is very likable. They consider the next sharpest problem of the Middle East in the nearest future (within the next months or a couple of years, but not decades) can become political games around the creation of independent Great Kurdistan. This may happen not very soon, but it will not be an “event on the eternal horizon” either. The creation of a Kurdish state can radically effect:

  • the political map of the Middle East, having created new hotspots of tension and border conflicts;
  • the oil and gas market, as the Kurdish territories are rich in their resources;
  • tourist business in Turkey, as the Kurds openly threaten the Turkish authorities with the armed struggle for their independence.

How real is creation of a state of Kurdistan at the territory of Iraq? Since gaining a wide autonomy, the conflict between the Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad has been getting sharper. The struggle is going on for spheres of influence and for the oil bearing province of Kirkuk.

The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Masud Barzani — Masud the Uniter!
The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Masud Barzani — Masud the Uniter!
Source en.wikipedia.org

Masud Barzani recently warned that he will struggle for getting independence, if misunderstandings with Baghdad won’t be solved to his favor. Kurdish newspapers write about a possible military conflict which will be a bloodshed one, if we take into consideration that Barzani has a perfectly prepared Peshmerga. ”That is all!”, “Enough!”, - he says more and more often. It seems there is only one obstacle in the Kurds’ way to independence, which will disappear on Syria’s regime falling apart or autonomy for Syrian Kurds to be given. And then the geopolitical environment will change to the Kurd’s favor.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki cannot take the Kurds under his control peacefully. According to analysts, at the moment the Kurds have their last chance for gaining their own territories and real independence. They have no doubts about the establishment of Great Kurdistan, they ask only one question, who will be “the master of the house”? And immediately they answer it, - the Iraqi Kurdistan. If President M.Barzani is careful and behaves correctly (and he is known in the political world for these features), he will go into history as the founder of Great Kurdistan, like Barzani - as the Uniter. Analysts are sure that he has to think not only about power in the Iraqi Kurdistan, but to be able to rule properly the contradictive wishes of the Kurds in Syria, Iran and Turkey.

It is known for sure that Washington and Tel-Aviv are in the same boat with him; and this means that Brussels will sooner or later follow the same course.

In the USA they approve of the idea of Great Kurdistan because it will mean the split of the whole Middle East and weakening of all the three states, which Washington wants to disintegrate or weaken - Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Washington also does not like Turkey’s hegemonic aims in the region. There is only one strong in the world, the rest are weak. This is the grain of geopolitics, which Washington is constructing.

Seriously renewed staff of State Department, headed by the re-elected USA President, will likely start the final stage of the talks with Turkey on the final coordination of the sides’ positions on the Kurdish question. Possibly very soon the realization of the adopted military-political plan of short- and middle-termed measures for regulation of the crisis situations in Syria and Iraq within the framework of the general strategy of NATO on Middle East will take place.

As well as Washington, Tel-Aviv is also interested in weakening of the mentioned above countries: the “Kurdish card” may harm the nuclear Iran badly. Israel is not at best terms with Turkey either, though “in public” they are friends.

As a result, with two such powerful allies as Israel and USA being interested, and with present processes in Iraqi Kurdistan, the wish of the Kurds of Syria and Turkey to get united and to gain their independence, Great Kurdistan can really come true. Russia and China will hardly be categorically against it.

So, if the Iraqi Kurdistan becomes independent and Salafits in Syria do not come to power, the Kurds will get a chance to get united within the borders of Great Kurdistan to which they have been looking forward for so long and which they so heartily desired to have.

To be continued