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Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Back Kurdish Independence

Amitai Etzioni wants [1] Trump to support Kurdish independence:

In either case, the United States should support a Kurdish state. True, such a move will run into opposition from the governments in Baghdad and Ankara. However, the Kurds have more than earned the right to independence. Moreover, such a move will help reassure other U.S. allies in the region, in Europe and in Southeast Asia that the United States will stand by them rather than abandon them, as the United States has done repeatedly to the Kurds in the past.

An independent Kurdish state wouldn’t just “run into opposition” from regional governments. It would be violently opposed by some of its new neighbors and denied recognition by the rest. It would be a landlocked country dependent on the goodwill of its neighbors, and at least some its neighbors would want to strangle the new state in its infancy. Assuming that the current leadership of the KRG would become the de facto government of a new Kurdistan, the U.S. would be involved in creating a corrupt [2], authoritarian state.

The “reassurance” argument for doing this is the weakest part of all. U.S. allies in other parts of the world won’t feel reassured by this, since it will mean that the U.S. will be taking on one more dependent client that it will be expected to defend. Regional allies and clients won’t be reassured by U.S. support for carving out a new country. Turkey and Iraq will presumably be furious and will actively resist the effort, others will see it as more unwelcome Western interference in the region, and any allied government that has its own problems with separatist movements will refuse to recognize the new state. Backing a Kurdish state would be one more unnecessary headache for the U.S. that serves no discernible American interest, and would almost certainly cause additional instability and violence in a region that already suffers from too much.

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11 Comments To "Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Back Kurdish Independence"

#1 Comment By SaintRhon On January 19, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

So their plan of action for the post Syrian Civil war is for the US to back another insurrection across 3 or 4 different nations? How would that even work? I would assume the Kurds would expect us to back up a promise to guarantee their independence. And if we are arming the Kurds against them then for what reasons would Turkey or Iraq still harbor US personnel or allow us to use their airspace?

Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and likely Iran too aren’t just going to sign over vast swathes of territory without a fight. So I guess we would be declaring war on them to benefit this nascent Kurdish paradise.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 19, 2017 @ 1:28 pm

The Kurdis state remains the anchor to keep us knee deep in military intervention in the region.

Unfortunately there is no unified Kurdish ethnicity that brings them all into any semblance of ‘one roof’ (state). It seems that everywhere they land the Kurds desire a state carved out of wherever they settle. The international community successfully carved out a state or the Kurds, but the system fell apart because the Kurds could not agree on how to manage the entity they became.

The question of how it work is already in place. There has been a defacto state in Iraq since the invasion. The problem is that, as noted in the article, it demand the presence of outside actors to make it work.

#3 Comment By grits fer ever’body On January 19, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

Right. Let’s start kick off the Trump presidency with more unforced and colossally expensive foreign policy errors. Just what we need.

#4 Comment By The Colonel On January 20, 2017 @ 8:26 pm

seem like an odd way to frame the question. i think the Kurdish people have about as justifiable a claim to independence and self-determination as anyone. but regardless, that isn’t a function of US foreign policy objectives.

#5 Comment By Waqas On January 24, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and likely Iran too aren’t just going to sign over vast swathes of territory without a fight. So I guess we would be declaring war on them to benefit this nascent Kurdish paradise.

#6 Comment By MEexpert On January 31, 2017 @ 1:13 am

Us has learned well from the British. When you leave a place, leave it in such a mess that they are never a threat to you again. US has been talking about dividing Iraq in three states, Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite. US wants to do the same in Syria. Neither Turkey not Iran will allow it to happen. Both have a large Kurdish population and things will get messier if it happens.

US wants to divide the Middle East in several small countries so that they are never a threat to Israel. There is no other motivation behind this lunacy. The exceptional nation wants to dictate to the rest of the peons.

#7 Comment By bozhidar balkas On January 31, 2017 @ 10:05 am

Kurds of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq– on principle or a desirable truth, peace in ME, deserve at least a confederated status in all three above-listed countries.
And Kurds should not have to wage wars for such status.

Turks and Arabs have acquired Kurdish by conquests and i don’t know of a people who have to honor those conquests forever.

Kosovo too was conquered early 13th century by Serbia, but now is an independent state.
So, why cannot the world grant Kurds some kind of self-rule or even independence.

#8 Comment By infinite arpeggi On January 31, 2017 @ 10:24 am

The Kurds should reject violence and demand a negotiated territorial solution between a unified Kurdish body and the four states concerned.

Thus far much of the Kurdish leadership has been only too happy to serve as puppets and tools of the imperialist and Zionist strategy of using the Kurds to undermine and destroy Iraq and Syria.

Turkey, though it was the worst oppressor of Kurdish cultural expression, has been virtually immune from even criticism by the West. Iran also has been almost untouched, due to its long history of helping to destroy Iraq.

The two Arab states, having suffered so much by now, would willingly participate in negotiations that promised equal sacrifice from the other two. Now that imperial policies have unwittingly(?) driven Iranian foreign policy closer than ever to Syria and Iraq, it is possible that Iran would also see the wisdom and justice of this solution. The major obstacle – as always – would be Turkey. However, Turkey is very susceptible to pressure from US, Russia and Europe and if those states really care about Kurdish freedom and independence, the pressure and support could be brought.

Any Kurdish party that supports separate Kurdish state let’s rather than Kurdish unity does not really care about Kurdish security and freedom. To date, the PKK is the Party that adheres closest to the ideal. It is no surprise that the PKK is the only Kurdish party that the West doesn’t like.

#9 Comment By Mark Thomason On January 31, 2017 @ 1:17 pm

A Kurdish state is a War Party project, last pushed by Hillary. They support it only because the Kurds are the last proxy tools left to the War Party.

A Kurdish state would poison US relations with Iraq and Turkey, which does not matter to the War Party. It would begin the process of tearing apart Syria into cantons, which pleases the War Party. It would antagonize Iran too, which is a major goal of the War Party.

#10 Comment By Tungur8 On February 1, 2017 @ 1:36 am

Infinite arpeggi’s comment is so clear and well said, con granulations.

The only thing that I can add is that an independent Kurdish state in Iraq would end in another genocide and thus add more to the endless suffering of the Kurdish people.

Turkey has the largest Kurdish population and has always been the most ruthless oppresser of any form of Kurdish identity. Why is Europe and the USA so hypocritical?
If the West doesn’t exercise any pressure on Turkey to recognise Kurdish identity, there will never be any democracy inTurkey and it will lead to an expentionist dictatorship that will be a threat to the whole Middle East and even to Europe.

Turkey never has admitted any of their previous genocides and it got its way. On the contrary the democratic forces in Turkey are labled as terorist organisations by the West ????

A sensible arrangement coud easily achieved with Syria , Iraq, and Iran, so why promote an authoritarian, corrupt government, that betrays the whole Kurdish nation, to independence.

#11 Comment By infinite arpeggi On February 1, 2017 @ 11:32 am

I accept your con granulations, with some misgivings, because it sounds like a Perle Slurpee. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who gets messed-up by the word-completer, spellcheck or whatever it is.