AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A BOLD STRATEGIC MOVE…
(…to stabilize an unstable region and enhance US interests there)

The Kurdish people recently held a referendum about what should be considered a historic moment…they’ve openly declared their intent to ultimately become an independent nation-state. Of all the ethnic groups in that region they have clearly demonstrated that they are, indeed, more than capable and worthy of becoming such a sovereign entity than anyone else there.

We’ve long held that the Kurds, other than Israel and Turkey, are the only other viable group with whom the US could forge a truly strong and beneficial alliance in the region. One that would not only help stabilize an unstable region but enhance US interests there besides. Unfortunately, for over a decade, America has been so mired down with its pacifying missions in Iraq, plus eliminating the ISIS threat in both Syria and Iraq, it has failed to make any active efforts to do so. Had it made much stronger efforts to reconcile Turkish-Kurdish contentions rather than wasting its energies on trying to resolve the Shia-Sunni divide (essentially a useless and no-win task), the entire region would be better off today.

Thanks to that referendum, however, the US now has an opportunity to make a bold strategic move, first by more seriously working to resolve Turkish-Kurd contentions, second by offering to be part of their reconciliation by forging a tri-partite alliance between the three of them. Once that were accomplished, then both the US and Turkey could act as co-sponsors for the admittance of an independent Kurdistan as a new member of the United Nations.

Key provisions for accomplishing this should include the following:                                                                                                                           1) The Kurds agree to cease all hostile acts of any kind against Turkey.                                                                                                                                                    2) The Turks agree to cease all hostile acts of any kind against the Kurds, and, agree to allow Turkish Kurds dual citizenship. That is, when in Turkish territory these are given all the rights and privileges of being Turkish citizens, but when in Kurdistan, they have rights and privileges as citizens there. Further, should Turkish Kurds prefer to emigrate from Turkey to Kurdistan, they would be allowed to do so freely without coercion or penalty of any kind.                                                                                                                                                                                                  3)Since economic relations already exist between them (mainly from informal oil exports to Turkey), these could be further expanded for a normal free and open trade between them.  

Whether anyone in this Administration has the boldness of vision and the will to initiate such a strategic move… is an open question.

Of course, most of the Shia dominated part of the region, namely Iran and Iraq, would be extremely upset by such a development, especially Iran, because the Ayatollah regime would view it as a very serious obstruction to its hegemonic intentions. Even worse, they would also instantly recognize that such a move could cause the loss of its control over the Kurdish enclave in Iran’s northwestern highlands, to become a backdoor for either assault against it or escape from it. As for Iraq, the Shia dominated government in Baghdad, already more or less an Iranian pawn, would also vehemently object to it (though relatively impotent to do much about it).

The Sunni dominated part of the region, by contrast, would probably generally acquiesce, if not openly approve of such a development, seeing it as a re-affirmation of US willingness to block Iranian influence in the region, which most view as an existentialist threat (a somewhat ironic twist since most international terrorist actions, such as 9/11 and others since, including ISIS, derive from Sunni extremist sources). Nevertheless, such a move might help reduce the intensity of Sunni extremist anti-Western perspectives, and thus diminish its inclinations for terrorist actions against it.

As for the Turks, while it should readily see the multiple advantages for agreeing to such a proposition, because the Erdogan government seems more and more inclined toward authoritarianism, getting it to consider it could be difficult, if not problematic. Still, a strong motivating aspect which could tilt it into agreeing to it should be that, doing so, would not only eliminate its long-standing problem with the Kurds, but would convert these into a strong ally instead, as an effective buffer along its southern borders with Iraq and nearby Iran.  Since it is already allied with the US, and a member of NATO, agreeing to such a move as part of a tripartite alliance with the Kurds, would further enhance its application to become a member of the EU as well.

For the US, such a strategic move would dramatically strengthen its position vis a vis the back and forth flow of Sunni and Shia power conflicts since that would give the US another secure base for any operations in the region, and because of that, these would then find themselves between a combined anvil and hammer of an Israeli, US, Turkish, Kurd military and economic power matrix neither could confront. In that context the US would thus regain its stabilizing influence in the region.

 In any event, if the international community saw fit to allow Timor and South Sudan to become “independent”, surely the Kurds have an even better and stronger claim and right for self-determination. Thus, if Turkey and the US can pry themselves away from their mutual vicious cycles of myopic and narrow short-term perspectives, the Kurdish dream of becoming a sovereign nation state could soon become a bright reality…and the region as well as the rest of the world would be the better for it.

CENTURION