Failure of the Arab project

The big fuss about establishing an independent Kurdish state in Iraq reflects the threats against the concept of the state in the region. Many countries are under the threat of divisions, including Iraq and Syria.

The Kurds have been paving way for this step and historical dream ever since the 1960’s. They have actually separated after Kuwait’s liberation in 1991 and they have a government and a system and well-known borders. There is also a dispute regarding the city of Kirkuk.

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Arabs are not in agreement here as this step harms “the dreams of unity” of people who are influenced by national slogans. This category thinks divisions reflect the collapse of the Arab state, particularly of a big country like Iraq, which has sentimental significance considering it’s the backbone of Muslims’ history.

It’s the Kurds’ right to establish their independent state. The rise of religious voices and clerics’ interferences in the Iraqi authority strengthens the idea of independence. The establishment of a Kurdish state, however, may pave way to more divisions in Syria and other countries.

Arabism did not succeed in strengthening the idea of the state in its modern concept but it tried to melt non-Arab entities within its project

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

Mitigating pressure

This state, if established, will pose a challenge to Iran and Turkey and mitigate pressure off Gulf countries which worry about these two countries’ ambitions to expand. It may also contribute to deterring political Islam if it manages to create a secular ruling system with a modern educational system and moderate policies that support stability and dialogue to resolve political matters in the region, including the Palestinian cause.

There are two different visions pertaining to the Kurdish state debate. I will address them by discussing the opinions of experts Rasheed al-Khayoun and Abdulrahman al-Rashed.

In one of his recent op-eds, Khayoun wrote: “Choosing this particular time to hold the referendum is a stab to those who shed blood in valleys and mountains for the sake of the Kurds. It is a stab to the homeland, Iraq, which was never an occupier whom you’re now asking to give you the right to choose your fate”.

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“This request is understood as liberation from occupation and domination. We congratulate our Kurdish brothers for this most hated halal, if it makes them happy. However, what we fear is gloating. We fear a divorce that may pave way to wars and make them lose their gains and hopes which we wish will not disappoint us all.”

Meanwhile, Rashed wrote in an op-ed: “Personally speaking, I mostly tend to agree with the Iraqi Kurds’ right to establish their own state. On the political and rational level, however, I think this desire must meet certain conditions before it’s achieved”.

“Rehabilitating the Kurdish region is not enough to establish a state as the Iraqi state itself must be rehabilitated to live without its Kurdish region and not be subject to collapse or wars. Kurdistan’s exit from the state system will most likely threaten the sectarian demographic balance in Iraq immediately and it may cause new domestic conflicts.”

Different views

The two opinions express the different political views toward this division in the state that is suffering from fragility or wars and disturbances. Establishing a Kurdish state may be the division model to follow in other countries, and Syria is one of those threatened.

Kurds have been a part of the Arab’s literary, social and political history, same as the Amazigh. The domination of the unitary discourse, however, destroyed diversity which Islamic history celebrated.

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Amazigh thinker Mohammed Arkoun talked about burying linguistic heritage and the magnificent diversity and said: “In order to establish the Arab Maghreb Union, they forcibly and randomly decided to delete all the old Amazigh history. It no longer exists. They simply told us: You are Arabs and there’s no such thing as Berber or Amazigh. This is what President Ahmed Ben Bella said in his first speech after the independence. He simply said: We are Arabs. He did not say: We speak Arabic.”

Arabism did not succeed in strengthening the idea of the state in its modern concept but it tried to melt non-Arab entities within its project. The Kurds suffered a lot from this ugly nationalist orientation which forced them to establish a strategy to survive, especially with the rise of hate speech against them and that resonate with the racist rhetoric against the Amazigh.

Therefore, the Kurdish state may be an existential necessity. And as much as it reflects the success of the Kurdish project, it expresses the failure of the destructive nationalist rhetoric and unitary projects.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

Last Update: Thursday, 21 September 2017 KSA 11:43 - GMT 08:43
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.

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Failure of the Arab project
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