Will the Kurds seize the day and attempt to create a sovereign state?
Henry Srebrnik, [
Has the moment of historical opportunity finally arrived for the Kurds, the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of its own? Will one of the results of the war with
A non-Semitic but Muslim group of some 25 million people, the Kurds live in eastern
Their tribal lands were divided up after World War I by the new colonial powers in the Middle East,
Initially, under the Treaty of Sevres, signed in 1920 between the defeated Turkish Ottoman sultan and the victorious Allies,
Instead, the Kurds became a minority in
Today, about half the Kurdish people live in
Kurdish rebels fought the Iraqi government in the early 1970s but the Kurdish guerrilla movement collapsed when neighboring
After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States and Great Britain established a so-called “no-fly zone” above the 36th parallel in northern Iraq, allowing Kurds in that region to establish a de facto autonomous jurisdiction with a fair amount of internal democracy.
While divided into two major political groupings, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurds have for the time being managed to present a united front in their efforts to gain control of northern
Will the Kurds be able to reclaim Iraqi cities such as
The Kurdish gains in this war have greatly upset neighouring
Because 20 percent of the Turkish population is Kurdish,
Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish separatist insurgency inside
It is true that the practical obstacles faced by an emerging landlocked Kurdish mini-state would not be unsubstantial. But reason does not always prevail in the affairs of states and nations, and often passion rules those who can not bear the arbitrary borders imposed on them by diplomats.
Some Kurdish leaders say that if a new
Still, reunification would be rocky, not least because relatively few young Kurds can speak Arabic, the language of most Iraqis. As well, since most Iraqi Arabs are Shi’ites, while Kurds are Sunnis, a democratic
In any case, the Kurds have seen previous attempts to provide them with a large degree of self-rule founder. A 1970 agreement granted four Kurdish provinces a degree of autonomy, but this did not last long.
In a decade of de facto autonomy in
This is probably the best chance the Kurds have had in 70 years to form a sovereign state in at least a part of their historic patrimony. Will they prove audacious enough to defy