Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Independent Kurdistan?

Kurdistan has been in the news a lot over the past few months as we learn more and more about the struggle in Iraq and Syria. Prior to 2014 few people could accurately place Kurdistan on the map - a geographic area containing Kurds in northwestern Syria, southwestern Turkey, northwestern Iran and northeastern Iraq. This area of the world almost gained its independence shortly after World War I but soon found out it was sold down the river by the European powers. Since then, it has suffered as a minority population in those four countries.

A huge change has taken place for Kurdistan as a result of the current conflict in Iraq. In 2014 the Kurds of Iraq have emerged as the force that will make the difference between the Islamic State being contained or becoming a true nation spanning the greater part of Iraq and Syria.

Up until mid-2014 the Obama administration was reluctant to provide arms, money, equipment, air support, and advisors to the Kurds. Its stance was that any aid to the Kurds should flow through the corrupt and inept central government run by the Shia regime.

During the height of the Iraq War (2006-2007) Vice President Biden was one of the few politicians who thought that Iraq would survive and thrive as a three-state entity - the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds each having an autonomous region. There was little support for that notion; especially from the political right. Some neo-cons have had a change of heart - see a piece entitled "Hello Kurdistan" by Daniel Pipes (September 10, 2014).

Then the rapid advance of the Islamic State and the embarrassing losses of the Iraqi Army turned the tables. The Obama administration was hit in the face with reality; coming to the realization that if the Islamic State was to be stopped it would be largely because the Peshmerga came to the rescue. Soon air support and aid flowed to the Kurds. This aid should continue and efforts should support the independence of an Iraq Kurdistan. This new entity should be welcomed into the world. The United States would finally have a "friend" in the Middle East that we could depend on. The question is - can the Kurds depend on the United States?

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