Kurd in the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal equa­tions of Iraq

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL -

The United States has played a ma­jor role in the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the Kur­dish re­gion. The Mid­dle East is the des­ti­na­tion of the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­can arms ex­ports, cre­at­ing enor­mous prof­its for weapons man­u­fac­tur­ers and con­tribut­ing greatly to the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of this al­ready overly-mil­i­ta­rized re­gion. De­spite prom­ises of re­straint, U.S. arms trans­fers to the re­gion have topped $60 bil­lion since the Gulf War. Arms sales are an im­por­tant com­po­nent of build­ing po­lit­i­cal al­liances be­tween the U.S. and Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries- par­tic­u­larly with the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship of re­cip­i­ent coun­tries. There is a strate­gic ben­e­fit for the U.S. in hav­ing U.S.-man­u­fac­tured sys­tems on the ground in the event of a di­rect U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion. Arms sales are also a means of sup­port­ing mil­i­tary in­dus­tries faced with de­clin­ing de­mand in Western coun­tries.

When the Ot­toman Em­pire fi­nally dis­in­te­grated, fol­low­ing the al­lied vic­tory in the war of 191418, and the birth of Ar­me­nian and Kur­dish states ap­peared at first to be in­evitable, Ataturk’s re­sponse was to create a na­tion state based on the unity of the Turk­ish­s­peak­ing Mus­lim peo­ples and to leave un­re­solved the ques­tion of non-Turk­ish mi­nori­ties such as the Kurds, Chechens, Laz and Abk­hazians.1 The ter­ri­to­ries not un­der the oc­cu­pa­tion of en­emy forces when the Ar­mistice of Mu­dros was con­cluded on Oc­to­ber 30, 1918, and which were in­hab­ited by ‘an Ot­toman Moslem ma­jor­ity, united in re­li­gion, in race and in aim’, were said to form a whole which did not ad­mit of di­vi­sion for any rea­son, though in the case of the three Kur­dish Sand­jaks ‘which united them­selves by a gen­eral vote to the mother coun­try’, there was a vague sug­ges­tion of a plebiscite in the Na­tional Pact’s ref­er­ence to a free pop­u­lar vote ‘if nec­es­sary’.2

In the new Iraq, though many fac­tions crit­i­cize Prime Min­is­ter Nuri Al-Ma­liki, they mostly con­tinue to keep their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the par­lia­ment and their min­is­ters in the fed­eral cab­i­net. The Kurds have le­git­i­mate doubts about Ma­liki's com­mit­ment to power-shar­ing,

But the Kurds are not try­ing to take power from him by force. Quite the op­po­site: the Pres­i­dent Barzani is al­ways , seek­ing to de­ter Al-Ma­liki from us­ing mil­i­tary force against their au­ton­o­mous re­gional govern­ment.

is a strate­gi­cally sig­nif­i­cant ma­neu­ver that could ce­ment a new re­gional align­ment, es­pe­cially if Pres­i­dent Barzani con­tin­ues to steer the Syr­ian Kurds to­ward the Turkey-KRG axis. Yet the re­la­tion­ship is not without ob­sta­cles. First, Ankara still har­bors some mis­trust of Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, and the two are not in sync on ev­ery is­sue.Af­ter all, even the deep­est re­gional shifts do not change the fact that PKK camps con­tinue to op­er­ate in KRG ter­ri­tory. For its part, the KRG ap­pears to be sen­si­tive about mov­ing too close to Turkey for fear of pro­vok­ing its heavy­weight neigh­bor Iran. An­other po­ten­tial im­ped­i­ment is the KRG’s de­sire for Ankara to launch a di­a­logue with the PKK—a tall or­der amid the cur­rent Turk­ish po­lit­i­cal scene.

The Sunni Arabs are protest­ing for fairer treat­ment, not seek­ing to ac­tively erase the stub­born re­al­ity of Shia-led govern­ment. Their chances of launch­ing an Arab Spring-style up­ris­ing are min­i­mal be­cause they are a sec­tar­ian mi­nor­ity, not the ma­jor­ity group in the coun­try.

And the Shia fac­tions -- for all their com­plaints about the prime min­is­ter -- tend to side with Ma­liki when the chips are down. In the just-passed 2013 bud­get, al­most all the Shia blocs banded to­gether to pass a strongly anti-Kur­dish bud­get. In­stead of watch­ing for civil war, it is more use­ful to think of Iraq as a place where var­i­ous groups are look­ing for a much bet­ter deal from the cen­tral govern­ment -- more au­ton­omy in the Kur­dish case, equal treat­ment for the Sun­nis.

But to the heart of the mat­ter: Is Iraq get­ting more or less vi­o­lent? Does it feel like a civil war to Iraqis? This kind of at­tack, of­ten tar­geted on lo­cal com­mu­nity lead­ers, has a tre­men­dous rip­ple effect, con­tin­u­ing the sec­tar­ian or eth­nic cleans­ing of ar­eas, or re­duc­ing the will­ing­ness of lo­cals to in­form against mil­i­tants. It is in­vis­i­ble and cor­ro­sive -what I have called low-vis­i­bil­ity, high-im­pact vi­o­lence.

Sunni ju­bi­la­tion at the col­lapse of As­sad regime in Syria may col­lide head-on with Ma­liki govern­ment para­noia about be­ing the next domino to fall. Syria is a good place to con­clude be­cause it forces us to ask: If we had not in­vaded 10 years ago, might we sim­ply be con­sid­er­ing that op­tion now, watch­ing Sad­dam or one of his sons crush re­belling Iraqi cities in the af­ter­math of an Arab Spring?

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