The case for Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence

The U.S. should en­dorse an up­com­ing na­tion­hood ref­er­en­dum

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Rachel Avra­ham Rachel Avra­ham is a me­dia re­search an­a­lyst at the Cen­ter for Near East Pol­icy Re­search and a cor­re­spon­dent at the Is­rael Re­source News Agency. She is the au­thor of “Women and Ji­had: De­bat­ing Pales­tinian Fe­male Sui­cide Bomb­ings in the Ame

On Sept. 25, Kur­dis­tan will hold a ref­er­en­dum for in­de­pen­dence. For a num­ber of rea­sons, the United States should wel­come this devel­op­ment and sup­port the ref­er­en­dum. For starters, an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dis­tan is a good op­por­tu­nity to ad­vance women’s rights, mi­nor­ity rights and democ­racy in the Mid­dle East re­gion. In Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween the gen­ders and the var­i­ous re­li­gious and eth­nic groups. Ev­ery­one is equal un­der the law.

Iraqi Kur­dish Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani has given all of the re­li­gious mi­nori­ties the right to have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Cab­i­net. Eleven chairs in the Kur­dish Par­lia­ment are re­served for mi­nori­ties. In ad­di­tion, Iraqi Kur­dis­tan has a Re­li­gious Af­fairs Min­istry, but each faith has its own depart­ment. This en­ables all of the re­li­gious mi­nor­ity groups in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan to ad­vance their own in­ter­ests. Sec­ondly, un­der Mr. Barzani, 25 per­cent of the Par­lia­ment must be fe­male, and Kur­dish law makes it eas­ier for women to get elected to pub­lic of­fice. Also, the fe­male Pesh­mer­gas who have been fight­ing against ISIS have cap­tured the hearts of the international com­mu­nity with their brave stance in fa­vor of gen­der equal­ity. An in­de­pen­dent Kur­dis­tan will be a bea­con for democ­racy in the Mid­dle East very much like the state of Is­rael.

Another rea­son why the United States should sup­port an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dis­tan is that it will help to roll back the Shia Cres­cent. It is crit­i­cal to note that the United States does not need to place boots on the grounds in or­der to con­front Ira­nian ag­gres­sion in the Mid­dle East. Since a good por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion in the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran con­sists of mi­nori­ties like the Az­eris, Balochis, Kurds and Ah­wazi Arabs, these groups can merely con­duct an up­ris­ing and en­able the Ira­nian regime to col­lapse from within as the Syr­ian and Iraqi Kurds unite in or­der to form their own in­de­pen­dent state, which is ready to be an Amer­i­can base in the Mid­dle East and to be of ut­most as­sis­tance in Amer­ica’s strug­gle against international ter­ror­ism. Such a strat­egy can shrink Iran in half and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce Ira­nian hege­monic in­flu­ence in the Mid­dle East with­out putting the life of a sin­gle Amer­i­can sol­dier in jeop­ardy.

While it is true that Turkey might re­main op­posed to Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence, it can be ar­gued that an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state headed by Mr. Barzani that is cre­ated with the vow not to seek Turk­ish ter­ri­tory poses less of a threat to Turkey than ISIS on its bor­der does.

In ad­di­tion, Mr. Barzani has de­vel­oped a pos­i­tive busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with Turkey. In fact, as a sign that re­la­tions be­tween the two were im­prov­ing, Turkey even rec­og­nized Kur­dis­tan as a re­gion and waved the Kur­dish flag dur­ing Mr. Barzani’s visit. Through trade and oil deals, Mr. Barzani made pre­vi­ous en­e­mies into busi­ness part­ners.

It is crit­i­cal to note that Mr. Barzani took a back­ward re­gion of Iraq and lit­er­ally trans­formed the place. Be­fore him, there were no jobs in the area. Now, Iraqi Kur­dis­tan has an in­de­pen­dent econ­omy. In fact, the oil trade po­ten­tial in Kur­dis­tan is so great that it can pro­vide nat­u­ral gas to the EU in­stead of Rus­sia. How­ever, in­stead of pock­et­ing the profits like a Mid­dle Eastern dic­ta­tor would, Mr. Barzani in­vested the money in re­build­ing Kur­dish vil­lages that were de­stroyed and cre­at­ing facts on the ground that would lead to an in­de­pen­dent state. It would be­hoove the world to sup­port him be­cause it is an Amer­i­can in­ter­est that the Kurds, rather than the Rus­sians and Ira­ni­ans, sup­ply the world with oil.

Fi­nally, Amer­ica should sup­port an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dis­tan as the right thing to do af­ter the Baathists and then the Shia mili­tias along­side ISIS ter­ror­ized the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion. Since 2014, the Iraqi central gov­ern­ment cut the bud­get at the same time that the Kurds faced ISIS, and the Kur­dis­tan re­gional gov­ern­ment ab­sorbed 2 mil­lion refugees. How­ever, to Barzani’s credit, the re­gional gov­ern­ment did not col­lapse. The Kur­dish prime min­is­ter started re­forms in or­der to in­crease in­come and fought against the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

To this day, he is try­ing to find new part­ners and to bring new com­pa­nies into Kur­dis­tan in or­der to build the foun­da­tions of a Kur­dish state. He is a true leader who should in­spire ev­ery­one as he is fight­ing to build a pro-Western coun­try willing to help the United States in its strug­gle against ter­ror­ism. He is do­ing this un­der less than op­ti­mal con­di­tions while fac­ing un­sup­port­ive neigh­bors. And Amer­ica should sup­port him in this just strug­gle as the Kurds de­serve to have what ev­ery other na­tion on earth has. They have had their own unique lan­guage, cul­ture and na­tional his­tory. There is no rea­son why they should not have a state in the fu­ture.


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