As David Hirst wrote for the headline in a Jan. 9 story in The Guardian, “This could be the birth of an independent Kurdish state.” Later, he wrote: “The great losers in the breakup of the Ottoman empire could be winners in the wake of Syria’s civil war and the Arab spring.” It was indeed a very interesting article which was built on an article written by the editor of Iraq’s al-Sabah newspaper suggesting that it was time to settle the “age-old problem” between Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds by establishing a “Kurdish state.”
If al-Sabah is a mouthpiece of Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, the article in that Baghdad paper cannot be the product of an “individual” opinion. However, why would al-Maliki agree to the creation of a Kurdish state? Leaving aside the matter that such a development would trigger Iraq’s dissolution into at least three states, how would he accept oil-rich northern Iraq slipping out of his hands? Apparently, the new Saddam in Baghdad has started fearing that discord between his government and the autonomous Kurdish region might careen out of control and grow into a full-fledged Arab-Kurd war.
Obviously it is in the grasp of the intellectual capacity of Daily News readers to understand the evolution of the autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq over the past few decades, particularly since Iraq was “liberated” and introduced to “democracy.” Turkey, on the other hand, has long abandoned its phobia-ridden approaches toward northern Iraq and, in line with the Sunni brotherhood policies of the current Islamist government, it has long given up its threat that the creation of a Kurdish state would be a casus belli. Instead, particularly since 2008, Turkey has been cementing ties with northern Iraq’s Masoud Barzani, while ties with al-Maliki’s Baghdad have never been so bad.
Would Kurds then, depending on developments in Syria, emerge as the real victors of the “Arab Spring” and crown their victory with an independent state? Could the losers of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire now emerge as the winners in the wake of Syrian dissolution? Would Turkey prefer the emergence of an oil-rich neighbor dependent on Ankara as regards its security to the continuation of shaky and troublesome ties with al-Maliki’s Iraq?
Indeed, according to rumors abundant in the Turkish capital, Turkey has already provided assurances to Barzani that should northern Iraq come under the aggression of Baghdad, he may be rest assured that Turkey would be there to protect their “Kurdish brothers.” With Turkey’s initiative to solve its Kurdish problem sailing in very difficult waters (Three Kurdish women “shot dead” in Paris, one reportedly a founding member of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) gang, as well as the latest PKK attack on a military outpost in the southeast), it might be problematic to defend “Kurdish brothers,” but still…
Would Turkey really support the creation of an independent Kurdish state? Why should it if a huge portion of Turkey’s territory and people would aspire to join in that new state? Or, are the game-makers planning to enhance Turkey with the addition of the Ottoman Mosul province?
(Yusuf Kanali is a writer for Hurriyet Daily News where this article was published on Jan. 10, 2013. Twitter: @ykanli)