Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the contemporary prospects for an independent Kurdistan:
The Kurds in Kurdistan are surely capable of figuring out for themselves how to proceed, and what will most likely promote, and possibly ensure, their long-term desires. 98% of the Kurdish voters who voted for independence when they took part in the January 2005 referendum. Many have expressed great anxiety about their representatives in Baghdad being insufficiently tough in standing up for Kurdish rights. The Kurds have been the only signficant part of the population in Iraq that the American military have been able to count on, the only people exhibiting unfeigned support for the Americans.
Kurdistan was promised independence by the Great Powers after World War I, but that promise was quashed by a combination of Turkish pressure and the British desire to incorporate the former Ottoman vilayet of Mosul into an “Iraq” that was created (with an out-of-work Hashemite, looking for rule in all the wrong places, plumped conveniently onto the throne) through the forced yoking together of the former vilayets of Mosul, Baghad, and Basra. The promise of a Kurdish state was entirely omitted from the Treaty of Sevres. The Kurds never forget that promise. It was one of several made by the Great Powers after World War I, in the first flush of Wilsonian “self-determination.” There were promises that the collapsing Ottoman Empire would result in an “Arab state,” a “Jewish state,” an “Armenian state,” and a “Kurdish state.” Had they realized what pressure the Christians in the Middle East would come under, they might have designated Lebanon as a “Christian state” and, in North Africa, had they foreseen the French exit, possibly as well a “Berber state.”
In any case, it was not wrong to promise or foresee the creation of such states. What was wrong was to ignore the Armenians and the Kurds. What was wrong was for Great Britain to accept the Mandate for Palestine, and to solemnly commit itself, thereby, to ending all barriers to Jewish immigration and to faciliating “close Jewish settlement on the land,” so as create a Jewish National Home — but then, having pocketed that Mandate, having done everything possible to make that goal more difficult rather than less. This began with the unilateral amputation of all of Eastern Palestine to form the Emirate of Transjordan, and with limiting rather than encouraging Jewish immigration (Macdonald’s White Paper of 1939). Finally there was the British training and equipping of the armies of several Arab states — Egypt, Jordan, Iraq — while imposing a complete arms embargo on the Jews at the time of maximum peril, in the months before and then during the Arab attack of May 1948.
In passing, one might note that while the Jews did, through their own efforts, obtain a state on 20% of the territory originally contemplated by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, and while the Armenians did get something rather imperfect within the Soviet Union, that single “Arab state” became, in time, what we see today, with 22 members of the Arab League. But there has never been a Kurdish state, not even a small and permanently imperilled one like Israel, or one under Soviet control, like the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia. Nothing. But now that situation can be changed.
But it cannot be changed as long as people meet that suggestion of American support for a “free Kurdistan” with the mechanical response that “Turkey will never allow it.” The Americans have not yet made clear to Turkey just how angry they are. They were denied the use of their own bases — what are those bases for, now that the Cold War is over? — to send a fourth division into Iraq from the north. The Americans have seen Turkish parliamentarians describe American soldiers in Iraq as “worse than Nazis.” They have seen how Mein Kampf has become a best-seller in Turkey. They have seen how the new Turkish movie, depicting those American soldiers as “Nazis,” and adding in, just for fun, a Jewish American doctor who harvests organs from prisoners killed at Abu Ghraib (this movie has everything — everything that Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered) has done boffo all over Turkey, and with Turkish audiences in European countries. They have seen, and finally are beginning to recognize, that “Kemalism” is under assault and Islam is resurgent. They have realized that the love affair with Turkey was based on the permanence and continued vitality of that Kemalism. It was assumed Turkey’s secularism was not only here to stay, but would continue to strengthen its hold on the Turkish population. The reverse has happened.
But we don’t need Turkey. We don’t need Turkish help, Turkish bases, Turkish listening-posts against Russia. If such bases are not to be available for use against Islmaic states (and Turkey has flatly turned down American requests for the use of such bases against, for example, Iran) then what good are they? And just how is Turkey our “ally” in the way it was in 1960 or in 1950? Countries change. In 1944, the Soviet Union was our ally — but not in 1946, or 1956. If Turkey has changed, that change should be recognized. If Islam is a permanent feature of Turkey and there is little from the outside that can be done about it, then that should be recognized. Our interests, the interests of Infidels, and those even of Turkey, not only are not the same, but they clash. We should be promoting our interests, and there are ways to make Turkey listen.
As for the belief that Russia’s $3.2 billion pipeline through Turkey demonstrates Turkish power, that is nonsense. What it demonstrates, if anything, is the fact that Russia, the historic enemy of Turkey, the Russia that in 1914 still coveted Constantinople, or Tsargrad (at a time when 50% of that city’s population was non-Muslim, it did not seem fantastical) can now turn on or off that pipeline. A story published at the time of the pipeline’s inauguration explains that “Washington had balked at proposals to build the pipeline and has warned Turkey about its dependence on Russia, which now supplies 60 percent of the country’s gas and 20 percent of its oil.”
Does that new dependence suggest a strong Turkey, or a weaker one, vis-a-vis Russia?
I repeat: the most intelligent people in Turkey now realize that the E.U. dream is over. Turkey has no chance of being admitted, now, or in ten years, or in twenty years, to the E.U. The beneficiaries of secularism, promoted systematically by Kemal Ataturk, and then by the Cult of Ataturk that followed upon his death, cannot want Turkey to turn to Iran or to the Arabs out of spite. They sense, rightly, that that would completely undo Kemalism and drag Turkey down to the level either of the despised Arabs or to the level of the despised Islamic Republic of Iran. What to do? Return to some kind of understanding, and help, from the Americans. And the Americans, in turn, are the only ones who can force an independent Kurdistan not to make territorial claims on the parts of Anatolia where the Kurds dominate. The Turkish government will have to listen if the American government insists that it do nothing to squash an independent Kurdistan. Will it necessarily obey? No. But it will have to factor into its calculations what it means if it permanently alienates the United States — no favored-nation, no resupply of military equipment, no nothing.
And Russia is so very close, and now the Russians control the supply of energy to Turkey. Even Brent Scowcroft, now the head of some U.S.-Turkish group (and how much is he paid? Was he working for Turkey, or other Muslim countries, at Kissinger Associates? Is he now a Registered Foreign Agent? Congress should find out, for Scowcroft is quite free with his supposedly disinterested influence — is he being paid, directly or indirectly?) was not able to prevent this, nor others like him.
Let the Kurds themselves figure out whether they are happy with this “Federal democracy under construction” in “Iraq” that so many people still have such faith in. If they are, fine. And if they aren’t — then help them achieve that independence, instead of lecturing and hectoring them on every occasion, as Condoleeza Rice has been wont to do.
It is she, in her refusal to see the larger anti-Jihad picture, and her inability to comprehend how leaving Iraq and exploiting the ethnic and sectarian divisions within Islam exposed there will aid that anti-Jihad, who won’t do.