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Forget about Iran, what about the Kurds?

The current administration has starting mumbling that we may need to invade Iran as we did with Iraq to protect ourselves & Israel from future weapons of mass destruction. Though this claim sounds familiar there are other threats that should be viewed as more immediate. There are over 25 million Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia. An estimated 20-25% of the entire population of Iraq are Kurds. Turkey has had violent flare ups with the Kurds for some time and is on record stating that the Kurds are an “ethnic secessionist organization that uses terrorism and the threat of force against both civilian and military targets for the purpose of achieving its political goal.”

So just what is their goal? It is to create an independent, Kurdish state in Kurdistan, an area that comprises parts of southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran. The group that is organizing this goal is known as the PKK and since 1984, PKK violence has accounted for the deaths of more than 30,000 Turkish security personnel, government officials, diplomats, commercial interests, and civilians. In 1999 PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was removed, however in 2004 violence erupted yet again. In 2006 Stephen Hadley, U.S. Security national advisor, and U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued statements about the Turkish violence officially calling the PKK a terrorist organizaiton. Condoleezza Rice is quoted saying that the US Government would work with Turkey and with the new Iraqi government to “deal with this problem”.

The US Government knows that they are a problem, but we have not done much to solve this issue. Currently the US government is only helping Turkey identify Kurdish rebel camps in Iraq. The issue here is that the current administration wants to stay in Iraq, and in order to solve regional tensions, but the issue with the Kurdish rebels has to be solved, or at least contained to stop the spread of violence. There are over 25 million Kurds that do not have any land to their name, and that is what they are fighting for. This could cause increased instability for Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia. Though I don’t want to praise Saddam Hussein for anything, many pundits believe that he forced the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia to live together, even if it was because of an iron fist & ethinic cleansing. The current Iraqi government and the US occupation are not solving this issue.

The large population of the Kurds, and the mere fact that they reside in some of the most politically unstable regions of the middle east is unsettling, though to be fair the the large Kurdish population does not share the violent tendancies of the Kurdish rebels. In fact, the current Iraqi president is Jalal Talabani, and he is also the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, which represents about half of the Kurdish population. The other half is represented by Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) which was founded by Mustafa Barzani. For years, the parties were fierce rivals, but the utlimate goal of both parties has always been the creation of an independent state for the Kurds, but they both realize that they must work within the Iraqi government, for now. The governments in Turkey, Iran and Syria fear separatist movements and it’s not just Turkey that has fights with the rebels. Iran has also fought them on the Iran-Iraq border.

In northern Iraq the official language is Kurdish, not Arabic; and the Iraqi flag has been taken down in many places, and replaced with the Kurdish flag. The leaders of the PUK and the KDP want Kirkuk to be the capital of Kurdistan for historical reasons, however the city is right next to some of the largest oil reserves in Iraq. The Kurds in power are trying to “reverse” Saddam’s ethinic policy. When Saddam was in power he imported Arabs in these Kurdish areas, and ethnically cleansed Kurds that spoke out, now Arabs are being forced out of Kurdish areas, and other Kurds that have lived peacefully in other areas are being forced to move to other areas that are less secure, but are heavily Kurdish populated. Since the Kurds want an autonomous region in Northern Iraq, they are also supporting similar Shiite concerns as the Shiites want an autonomous region in southern Iraq as their own.

Maintaining a central federal system has become increasingly difficult to do in Iraq, with many groups wanting their own region to call their own, and does not seem very likely in the end. We must work with these groups and make a firm decision to split Iraq into pieces or keep Iraq on solid state, however last time we tried this it didn’t work out very well. Israel & Palestine still fight for Jerusalem. It is a capital of two seperate states, and the regligious home for three different religions. In Iraq the issue could very well be where the oil reserves are, and the question remains if we don’t split of Iraq now where they be a civil war later? Or if we split Iraq up now will their continue to be violence because of oil? In my opinion whether or not we help craft the borders, or if we do nothing there will also be violence because if the Kurds take over northern Iraq, and also take over the oil reserves we will have just as much violence if not more. A bipartisan U.S. panel made recommendations to the White House on Iraq strategy and recommended a stronger central government was needed which would control oil revenue, however the Kurds obviously want to retain control over that money.

So before we start preparing for another war, let’s finish up the one that we have going on right now, because the issues we face in Iraq could be potentially deadly for the entire region. Personally, I wish we could have some actual discussions and debate about this topic rather then Iran.

Posted by Vinod Tonangi at 3:03 PM

http://bigredmat.blogspot.com/2008/05/forget-about-iran-what-about-kurds.html