US Pol­icy to­wards the Kurds

In a federal, plu­ral­is­tic and demo­cratic Iraq

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Saadula Aqrawi

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has been suc­cess­ful with re­gard to core prin­ci­ples it firmly be­lieves in: fed­er­al­ism, equal rights for women, free­dom of in­di­vid­ual con­science, and jus­tice for the vic­tims of the Baath regime. The Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion al­lows for Kur­dis­tan, its re­gional and federal au­thor­i­ties and the use of Ara­bic and Kur­dish as of­fi­cial lan­guages in the re­gion.

US pol­icy to­wards the Iraqi Kurds has been in­con­sis­tent and used Kur­dish is­sues as a pol­icy tool. Ad­di­tion­ally, re­gional pow­ers have un­fairly ma­nip­u­lated the fu­ture of the Kurds. In view of the chal­lenges of a federal, plu­ral­is­tic, and demo­cratic Iraq and the pos­si­ble se­ces­sion of Kur­dis­tan from Iraq, his­tory and cur­rent events should pro­vide US pol­i­cy­mak­ers with some in­sights into their fu­ture pol­icy in re­la­tion to Iraq.

There is a con­sen­sus that suc­cess­ful fed­er­al­ism re­quires a highly func­tional ju­di­cial sys­tem and demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, in­te­grated na­tional po­lit­i­cal par­ties and ap­pro­pri­ate elec­toral in­cen­tives cre­ated by demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion.

The con­sti­tu­tion states, too, that Iraq will be a federal, par­lia­men­tary democ­racy. Can Iraq unite with a power-shar­ing agree­ment among Arab Shi­ites, Arab Sun­nis, and Kurds? If Iraq can­not unite, can a peace­ful sep­a­ra­tion be achieved that will main­tain sta­bil­ity in the re­gion? How should US for­eign pol­icy pro­ceed? The re­cent ref­er­en­dum on the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion es­tab­lished re­gional con­trol for the Kurds of Iraqi Kur­dis­tan.

The pass­ing of the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion also es­tab­lished that oil and gas be­long to all of the people of Iraq and rev­enues would be equally shared by re­gions. con­tin­u­ing ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute be­tween Iraqi Kur­dis­tan and Arab Iraq over the area in and around the oil rich city of Kirkuk in north­ern Iraq may be at the crux of a sta­ble Iraq.

His­tor­i­cal, the Kurds are an an­cient Mid­dle East­ern tribal com­mu­nity, and the Kur­dis­tan re­gion was the site of many clashes be­tween the Ot­tomans and Per­sian rulers, with Kur­dish princes sid­ing with one side and then the other in or­der to main­tain their au­ton­omy. With­out their own state, the Kurds have strug­gled to main­tain their iden­tity.

The sta­tus of Kirkuk as ei­ther a part of Iraqi Kur­dis­tan or Arab Iraq will be de­cided by a ref­er­en­dum. The out­come of this ref­er­en­dum could have a ma­jor im­pact on the unity of Iraq, on neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and on an exit strat­egy for the United States. The Kurds are ripe for ex­ploita­tion by the pow­ers in­ter­ested in the re­gion and dis­pens­able pawns in world pol­i­tics.

The Kurds have a his­tory of be­ing alien­ated by the so­ci­eties sur­round­ing them and this has man­i­fested it­self in re­sis­tance to as­sim­i­la­tion and a strug­gle to gain au­ton­omy in a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment. Kur­dis­tan lies in the area where Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran con­verge. The Kurds are mostly Sunni Mus­lim and speak an Indo-Euro­pean lan­guage. They are eth­ni­cally dis­tinct from Turks and Arabs. As an eth­nic group, the Kurds are seen by Ira­ni­ans as out­siders.

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