Sig­nal­ing a wider chasm

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion -

In the New Yorker, Robin Wright an­a­lyzes the mean­ing of this week’s vote for Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence. Read “Kurds Voted. So Is the Mid­dle East Break­ing Up?” in full at http://bit.ly/2ydozD4. Here’s an ex­cerpt.

The Kur­dish vote re­flects an ex­is­ten­tial quandary across the en­tire Mid­dle East: Are some of the re­gion’s most im­por­tant coun­tries re­ally vi­able any­more? The world has re­sisted ad­dress­ing the is­sue since the pop­u­lar protests in 2011, known as the Arab Up­ris­ing, or Arab Spring, spawned four wars and a dozen crises. En­tire coun­tries have been torn asun­der, with lit­tle to no prospect of po­lit­i­cal or phys­i­cal re­con­struc­tion any­time soon. Mean­while, the out­side world has in­vested vast re­sources, with sev­eral coun­tries fork­ing out bil­lions of dol­lars in mil­i­tary equip­ment, bil­lions more in aid, and thou­sands of hours of di­plo­macy — on the as­sump­tion that places like Iraq, Syria, and Libya can still work as cur­rently con­fig­ured. The list of out­side pow­ers that have tried to shape the re­gion’s fu­ture is long — from the United States and its Euro­pean al­lies to the Rus­sian-Iran axis and many of the Mid­dle East’s oil-rich pow­ers. All have, so far, failed at forg­ing hope­ful di­rec­tion. They’ve also failed to con­front the ob­vi­ous: Do the peo­ple in these coun­tries want to stay to­gether?

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