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 An Independent Kurdish State: Achievable or Merely a Kurdish Dream?

 Opinion — Analysis  
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


An Independent Kurdish State: Achievable or Merely a Kurdish Dream?  28.6.2012 
By Nia Amin Special to 

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Eng. Nia Amin is an Advisor & Human Right Activities in EU and columnist.
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June 28, 2012

Iraq, we have seen, is a country of contradictions. In the post invasion years, Iraq’s remaining (nominally) as a united country is not because of the Iraqis willingness, but rather because the occupier forces have willed it. It is likely that with the departure of the occupying forces, not only the power-sharing regime will break apart, but also the country is likely to be partitioned. The conflict of ethnic-nationalists, the clash of identities and loyalties, the opposing interests, and exclusive visions over strategic issues are all sources of conflict between Kurds and the other Iraqi groups.

For several decades the Kurdish secessionist and irredentist movement has been in conflict with Sunni Pan-Arab nationalism and territorialism. However, while the Sunnis were in power, their ethnic-nationalism gained ascendancy and defined the official state ideology, and in turn the Iraqi state and its institutions became instruments for implementing Pan-Arab-Nationalist projects. The conflicts between the Kurds and other Iraqi groups turned the Kurds into oppressed victims.

Termination of this victim status required the Kurds to change that balance, and one way was to escape from Iraq. On the other hand, the accumulated effects of the conflicts created exclusive interests and loyalties. The divisions within the society are too deep and could trigger serious conflict if a federal or central system were to be imposed on the nation. The Kurdish secession is both the ultimate goal of the Kurds and a permanent solution to the country’s woes. As we have seen, some commentators assert that a Kurdish independent state is not a realistic solution because it could trigger further conflict in Iraq and because there are serious geopolitical barriers to such a move. However, the assumption that Kurdish secession could lead to civil war is mostly based on misunderstandings of the Kurdish case and on the belief that it is part of the bigger package that is the partition of Iraq into three states.

The nature of the Kurdish Baghdad conflict is different from the ongoing conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The former is about how to escape from Iraq while the latter is about who controls the country. Further, the Kurdish approach to controlling the disputed areas is quite dissimilar to the violent confrontations between Sunnis and Shiites over controlling Baghdad. The issue of losers and winners in the event of the partitioning of Iraq is exaggerated. Judging by Iraqi history and the post-invasion events.

The permanent solution lies in the division of the mixed cities and oil resources, not in the forced maintenance of unity. Geopolitical barriers are another factor that has been exaggerated. This is evidenced by the success of the KRG during the 1990s, for in that time the semi-autonomous state developed economically and established satisfactory diplomatic relations with neighboring countries. Contrary to the view that the Kurdish independent state could lead to anarchy in the region, it could act as an effective buffer between some hostile forces, reduce the threat of civil war, and limit the possible formation of an Islamic state in Iraq. Moreover, as the past decade has demonstrated, it could economically benefit surrounding countries. In their struggle for independence the Kurdish gains have reached the stage where they are irreversible. Both the international community and the regional countries have to recognize and support the Kurdish independent state if a peaceful, durable solution and human rights are to be achieved.

The Economist, Political Risk Services, the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, • Aram RafaatUniversity of South Australia
Key Words: Kurds; Kurdistan; Kurdish role Vis a Vis Iraq; Kurdish independence; Iraqand federalism.

Eng. Nia Amin is an Advisor & Human Right Activities in EU and columnist

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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