The time to push for in­de­pen­dence?

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

Since the fall of Sad­dam Hus­sein and par­tic­u­larly in the lat­est sec­tar­ian storm as ISIS has swept through large parts of north­ern Iraq, many in the in­ter­na­tional arena point to the carv­ing up and dis­in­te­gra­tion of Iraq. How­ever, from a Kur­dish per­spec­tive, it is a ques­tion of how can you break some­thing that wasn’t whole to start with?

It is no se­cret that the dreams of the Kurds have al­ways started and fin­ished at an in­de­pen­dent home­land. They gained noth­ing but geno­cide and re­pres­sion un­der Sad­dam and they have lit­tle to gain now as part of an Iraq with a vi­cious cy­cle of vi­o­lence and sec­tar­ian war­fare that the Kurds want lit­tle to do with.

The boom­ing, sta­ble and pros­per­ous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion was a re­flec­tion of any­thing but Iraq. Even be­fore re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Iraq, Kur­dis­tan was vir­tu­ally in­de­pen­dent any­way. There were miss­ing in­gre­di­ents that the Kurds have worked hard to bridge. One of these was in­de­pen­dent oil ex­ports and con­trol of their own rev­enues, as op­posed to been at the mercy and good­will of Bagh­dad for share of na­tional budget.

With the Kur­dish plains washed with so much oil, the rev­enues the Kurds could soon gain would far out­weigh any­thing that Bagh­dad could ever give.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment (KRG) and Nouri al-Ma­liki led Bagh­dad govern­ment have been at log­ger heads over oil rights for sev­eral years. Sim­ply put, con­trol of oil rev­enues and oil ex­ports was a re­main­ing noose that Bagh­dad had over Kur­dis­tan. Kur­dis­tan has tried to cut this re­main­ing um­bil­i­cal cord to Bagh­dad by work­ing hard to build strong ties with Turkey, oil ma­jors and build­ing their own in­de­pen­dent oil pipe­line.

The sec­ond key in­gre- di­ent to Kur­dish push to in­de­pen­dence was the sta­tus of dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries. Ar­ti­cle 140 of the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion laid out clear steps and clear time­lines for the res­o­lu­tion of such ter­ri­to­ries. Yet al­most 7 years since the orig­i­nal dead­line for its im­ple­men­ta­tion, owed to a lack of ap­petite and con­stant foot drag­ging by Bagh­dad, ar­ti­cle 140 was never im­ple­mented.

Now with the re­cent ISIS on­slaught and lat­est tur­moil in Iraq, not only can the Kurds press ahead and in­crease oil ex­ports, they have now gained con­trol of vast dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing Kirkuk, the sym­bol of the Kur­dish strug­gle.

Depend­ing on how and if the Sunni in­sur­gency can be con­tained as well as well as the time ex­pended in do­ing so, Kurds may well fast-track their push to in­de­pen­dence. But for now, they are will­ing to bide their time and cru­cially con­sol­i­date their newly ex­panded borders and bring sta­bil­ity to their ar­eas. Who can blame the Kurds, who never wanted to be a part of the Iraqi state in the first place, to push for sep­a­ra­tion when the coun­try is yet again in sec­tar­ian flames?

Self-de­ter­mi­na­tion is a nat­u­ral right at the calmest of times, let alone at times of war with blood­shed on your doorstep.

Even Turkey, tra­di­tion­ally a staunch op­po­nent of Kur­dish na­tion­al­ism, has come to re­alise that not only is Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence a nat­u­ral path that ul­ti­mately can­not be stopped, but they can gain tremen­dous ben­e­fit from a sec­u­lar, oil rich, strate­gic part­ners in the tu­mul­tuous new age of the Mid­dle East.

Kur­dis­tan was al­ways go­ing to be­come an in­de­pen­dent state, now the time­lines have been greatly ac­cel­er­ated with the new cri­sis in Iraq.

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