The Kur­dish an­gle a para­mount part of any Mid­dle Eastern de­bate

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

The much her­alded “Arab Spring” has swiftly mor­phed into an Arab night­mare. The suc­ces­sive lauded pop­u­lar up­ris­ings across the Mid­dle East were to an ex­tent only the end of the be­gin­ning and not a quick­fire so­lu­tion to the com­plex net­work of Mid­dle Eastern dis­putes.

The af­ter­math of the Arab Spring has been far blood­ier, pro­tracted and trou­ble­some than many ex­pected. The new Mid­dle Eastern hori­zon has brought with it new crises and new rules. One in which the US and the West are strug­gling to take a view on.

The up­ris­ing in Syria has un­earthed a deadly civil war that has di­rectly or in­di­rectly sucked in most play­ers of the Mid­dle East. The short-lived eu­pho­ria over the oust­ing of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has been re­placed by so­cial tur­moil and a deep-rooted bat­tle over po­lit­i­cal Is­lam that threat­ens to send Egypt into full blown con­flict. The re­moval of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya was seen as re­al­ity straight­for­ward by the West but his re­moval has wit­nessed more in­sta­bil­ity and vi­o­lence. In Tu­nisia, an op­po­si­tional leader has been as­sas­si­nated in re­newed fric­tion.

All the while in Iraq, sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence threat­ens to re­turn to lev­els not seen since the peak of 20007.

The rapid plung­ing of the Mid­dle East into con­flict has drawn many an­a­lysts to the roots of con­flict, the role of Western pow­ers in sow­ing the seeds of to­day’s strife in the af­ter­math of the First World War and his­tor­i­cal vendet­tas.

But while typ­i­cally the ar­gu­ments point to the ar­ti­fi­cial bound­aries of Mid­dle East and sec­tar­ian fault-lines, the great­est trav­esty of the Mid­dle East is of­ten ig­nored – the fail­ure to give the Kurds, the fourth largest na­tion in the Mid­dle East, a na­tion of their own.

Too of­ten the re­cent Mid­dle Eastern fault lines are as­cribed to Sun­niShi­ite sec­tar­ian con­flict and sec­u­lar ver­sus po­lit­i­cal Is­lam; some­what re­plac­ing the old fo­cus on the Arab-Is­raeli strug­gle.

Con­flicts in Syria and Iraq are nar­rowed to sec­tar­i­an­ism. The po­lar­i­sa­tion of Turkey is gen­er­alised as be­tween Is­lamists and those who up­hold the mys­ti­cal sec­u­lar foun­da­tions of the repub­lic.

Yet it is the self­ish and ruth­less carv­ing of the Kur­dish lands that will al­ways serve as a crit­i­cal desta­bil­i­sa­tion fac­tor in the Mid­dle East. The eth­nic an­gle of the Mid­dle Eastern con­flict is not just be­tween Jews and Arabs. It’s a trav­esty that in the 21st cen­tury that the Kurds have the un­for­tu­nate dis­tinc­tion of been the largest na­tion with­out a state.

It’s re­mark­able that the Kurds have to strug­gle for even “mi­nor­ity” rights in the lands of the fore­fa­thers, yet so much of the world’s fo­cus is on Arab strife and Is­lamist po­si­tion­ing in gov­er­nance. The Arabs view the lack of a 22nd state in Pales­tine as a great in­jus­tice whilst the Kurds are of­ten viewed sus­pi­ciously or as over­reach­ing when seek­ing rights. This sums up why eq­ui­table deal­ing of ar­gu­ments or dis­putes is non-starter in the Mid­dle East.

Syria is viewed as a con­fronta­tion be­tween the Alaw­ite mi­nor­ity and Sunni ma­jor­ity, whilst the Kurds who were roped into the state bound­aries are of­ten over­looked.

The re­draw­ing of the Mid­dle Eastern map is not just a ne­ces­sity but a nat­u­ral un­rav­el­ling that would al­ways hap­pen at some point. Iraq is the start­ing point for such un­rav­el­ling, with Kurds fi­nally able demon­strate strate­gic and po­lit­i­cal clout in terms of new ge­og­ra­phy.

Yes, the new Mid­dle East is hardly the ad­vert for har­mony and com­mu­nal peace, but all that has been done is to let the cat out of the bag. All the prob­lems and ingredients for con­flict where al­ways there, but they were caged and held tightly by dic­ta­to­rial regimes sup­ported by the West.

The Mid­dle East is at an acute cross road, un­for­tu­nately with play­ers in­tent on re­solv­ing dif­fer­ences the re­gion knows all too well – con­flict.

Iron­i­cally, as the West has found out bit­terly in Iraq and Egypt, democ­racy and re­li­gion is not al­ways the per­fect tonic. What hap­pens when the peo­ple select a party or sys­tem of govern­ment that the West never wants or fears?

It will take decades for the dust from the new Mid­dle East to set­tle, but con­tained for so long it won’t be easy for such a cri­sis zone filled with high emo­tion, his­tory and nat­u­ral re­sources to take its new shape.

But let there be no doubt – the Kur­dish ques­tion is cen­tral to any prospects of real peace and sta­bil­ity in the new Mid­dle East.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.