The Case for an Independent Kurdistan

Erbil, Kurdistan (TFC) – It’s past time for the citizens of the West to demand that their governments recognize an independent Kurdistan. When the Western powers used the Sykes-Picot Agreement to carve up the Middle East, the Kurds were left out in the cold. The territory their people inhabited was divided up and now their people are spread out in five present day countries. With no homeland of their own, they’ve been the victims of ethnic cleansing campaigns. They are an ethnic minority in every country and are trampled upon constantly by the national governments in all but one of those countries.

The Kurds in Iraq already have effective self-governance over a large section of Northern Iraq. This is because the Iraqi Kurds are self-reliant and hardened by years of persecution under Saddam Hussein. The government in Baghdad is a joke, but the regional Kurdish government in Ebril has been able to stand on it’s own two feet even against the onslaught of the Islamic State. It’s time to demand that the Kurdish people are given a chance at self-determination.

Iraqi Kurdistan as a homeland: The region currently governed by the Kurds in Iraq is the perfect homeland for Kurds from all over the world. It sits on a 45 billion barrel oil reserve, providing it economic security. It has a large agricultural industry that provides food security. It maintains freshwater reserves in an area of the world that has limited drinking water. The government is liberal in comparison to any other Middle Eastern nation, and while there are still cultural issues that the west cringes at, the regional government enacted domestic violence laws. In an area of the world where women are plainly viewed as property, Kurdish women are protected by the rule of law. They are free to serve in the Kurdish military. There is still work to be done, but the Kurds are moving in the right direction. The state of peace and security in lands controlled by Ebril is astounding. Even during the US invasion, not a single US or Coalition soldier was killed or kidnapped in the region. It’s a nation without recognition. The regional government is so advanced that it could become a functioning national government overnight.

Kurdistan Image Source: jan Sefti, Flickr, Creative Commons

Kurdistan
Image Source: jan Sefti, Flickr, Creative Commons

The benefits to the international community: Kurds in countries other than Iraq are, at best, tolerated by the national government. In Turkey, they are seen as terrorists and as an enemy. Those countries that wish to see Kurds leave their territory would likely g

et their wish as Kurds from all over the world flocked to the first Kurdish-controlled country to exist in more than a century. The Middle East would find a stable liberal country in its heart. It’s possible that these traits could influence other governments to make reforms in a new sort of domino theory. The West could easily renegotiate contracts with the Kurdish government and continue doing business. However, the Kurds are fiercely nationalistic and would probably not be willing to provide as favorable terms to large Western corporations. This is the only reason Kurdistan has not been recognized by the international community. Even though more than 20 nations maintain consulates in Ebril and engage in direct diplomatic negotiations with the regional government, the nations won’t buck the multinational conglomerates for the sake of human rights and the self-determination of a people.

 

International law and human rights: The standby answer for those shilling for the corporations is that a country has a right to control its territory under the doctrine of “territorial integrity”, implying that Iraq has the right to maintain control over Kurdistan. This argument falls flat on its face in regards to Kurdistan simply because Iraq is a failed state. It cannot effectively administer the nation. Let’s be frank, it cannot even maintain a military presence in most of the country. The current regime in Baghdad will likely fall; it’s only a matter of time. So the territorial claims of a failed state are not something that need to be considered. Those supporting this claim rarely cite where the right to territorial integrity comes from, with good reason. Article 6 of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples states:

“Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”

The idea of “national unity” in Iraq could be the punchline of jokes. There is no national unity. Furthermore, when the “territorial integrity” of a nation is already completely shattered and the government has shown itself incapable of repelling the invaders, this becomes a completely moot point. What is not a moot point under international law is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966. That document stated plainly:

“All peoples have a right of self-determination.”

The Kurdish people have a political, military, legal, and most importantly moral claim to independence. It is time that we pressure our governments into recognizing Iraqi Kurdistan as a nation beholden to no other power, and certainly not to Baghdad. The profit margins of the multinationals will simply have to take a hit.

The consequences of failing to act: The Kurds arguably have the strongest military force in Iraq and Syria. They have been content to wage a defensive war in support of the stated NATO objective of defeating the Islamic State. Now that NATO has effectively betrayed the Kurds and has started bombing those that were fighting a dirty little war for us, the Kurds will be forced to reevaluate whether or not coordinating with the West is beneficial to them at all. The Kurds could easily approach China or Russia for international support and once again the failed foreign policy of the United States could turn a 25-year ally into an enemy. Another even more terrifying proposition would be for the Kurds to strike the same type of backdoor deal that NATO struck and simply refuse to continue the fight against the Islamic State in exchange for a truce and a recognition of their territory. Baghdad would fall within a week. Make no mistake, Kurdish resistance to the Islamic State is one of the few things keeping the fundamentalists from overrunning both Syria and Iraq.

The Kurds are a people the West should be unconditionally supporting, not bombing. They are a people whose time has come. They deserve the ability to refuse to obey any laws but their own, any order but their own, and any government but their own. They deserve freedom. Some would say that the regional government in Ebril is preparing them for that. There are no training wheels for freedom. Either we, as citizens, support a free and independent Kurdistan and the self-determination of a people or we accept the fact that we are willing to keep a people under the yoke of a foreign government for the sake of multinational corporations.

There is rarely a situation in international politics that is this simple. Either what we claim to believe is noble and just is worthy of acting upon, or we announce to the world that we are colonial empire using corporate logos instead of flags to keep autonomous governments in check. Our governments are certainly fine with allowing the subjugation of a people for profits. They’ve already been paid off. The question is whether or not we have. Are we so apathetic that we would allow people to fight and die on our stated side in a war we caused only to then turn around and bomb them when the opportunity to subjugate another nation presented itself? Will we say nothing? Will you say nothing?

The Fifth Column will be launching a campaign to present “The Case for an Independent Kurdistan” to the world. We will need your help. The campaign will include email campaigns, call in days, and general harassment of elected officials until the bombings of Kurdish positions end or the Kurdish people have an established homeland. Click this link to be taken to the Facebook page that will be used to coordinate the campaign.