Concerns related to Kurdish independence

I am almost certain that the majority of Arabs outside Iraq sympathize with the Kurds’ desire to be independent and establish their own state.

Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani gained further sympathy during his media campaigns and interviews as he expressed the point of the view of the Iraqi Kurdish and the desire to be independent and which he fought for since the 1960’s.

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.

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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. The tyranny of political sectarianism has dominated the scene following the collapse of Saddam’s totalitarian regime as Iraq became governed by relative balance, half Shiite and half Sunni – although these old statistics are controversial.

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

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Altering the ratio

Half of the Sunnis are Arabs and the other half are Kurds. Without reforming the political regime, the Kurds’ exit will subject Iraq to new problems due to altering the ratios. The Iraqi governance system is parliamentarian and it depends on categorical representation.

The exit of Sunni Kurds will disturb the equation and negatively affect the political path. It will either lead to sectarian fighting or to calls for the separation of the West Sunni region, particularly Anbar. The latter calls will affect Iraq’s security regardless of whether this independence is achieved or not.

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This is a thorny issue for the politicians who protect the Iraqi system and who are trying to please the Iraqi Kurds by finding other alternatives that do not go as far as separation. Dividing Iraq into statelets threatens to disintegrate other states. The region has inherited this status after it was divided according to Sykes Picot agreement, which distributed borders of the Fertile Crescent and the Arab North in general at the beginning of the past century.

The British added the Kurdish region to Iraq under their protection. Most countries in the region do not support the idea of the Kurdish region’s separation from Iraq out of fear that separation-related conflicts will emerge in other areas.

United region

Let us keep in mind that most of the region was almost united under the reign of the Ottoman rule and under the British and French administration and was later divided into nation states.

This is the case of many areas in the world, which accepted their situation although dividing borders often failed to take into consideration the differences and similarities between nations and tribes which were joined together as modern countries. The Kurds are history’s victims as they were divided by foreign agreements.

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If Iraq’s Kurds gain their independence, Turkey will be worried because there are Kurds among its citizens and their number is actually double the number of Kurds in Iraq. Iran’s Kurds are also double the number of Iraqi Kurds.

These worries, i.e. fears of other Kurds’ independence calls, fears of separating the rest of Iraq and increase of separation calls in the region, are curbing factors. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi said the separation of any region or part of the country is conditional on the central government’s approval in Baghdad. This approval is unlikely given the current disturbed political situation.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Last Update: Tuesday, 12 September 2017 KSA 16:32 - GMT 13:32
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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