This blog is thinking yes on many fronts. After Operation Desert Storm, as Saddam’s forces were driven from Kuwait, the U.S. government encouraged many Kurds in the north to finally have their comeuppance against the brutal Ba’ath party’s control over their lives through Saddam and his regime (Sunni-led, fascistic, brutally authoritarian and tribal/clannish…full of Saddam loyalists…using chemical weapons against the Kurds towards the end of the Iran/Iraq war).
Many did stand up, but Saddam was not ousted from power, and thus began a campaign of violent retaliation and consolidation which included the use of chemical weapons again. It got ugly. The No-Fly zone could only do so much after the fact. Some guilt about the Kurdish plight arguably affected some of the thinking during the Iraq invasion on the American side.
PBS Frontline has a timeline.
The Kurds are their own ethnic and linguistic group, and live in northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southwestern Turkey. They’ve been around for a long time and while the dominant religion is Islam, there are a lot of other faiths besides. It’s complicated, from what my sources say.
Sympathy does not a strategy make, but out of the current chaos, the utter failure of Syria spilling over into Iraq and the gains of ISIS/ISIL, an independent Kurdistan isn’t a bad option for many American interests. Frankly, the Kurds are managing themselves well amidst a tremendous amount of chaos. Many want more commerce, opportunity, oil revenue, and are willing to stand up to forces like those active in defense of their homes and the idea of an ancestral homeland, families and a broader ethnic family, livelihoods and broader commerce and contact. They’re organized enough and America could do a lot worse.
We have the Turks to consider, and the Iranian regime to counterbalance as well as a complex patchwork of interests to pursue, but given the falling apart of the boundaries that held Syria and Iraq together, the rise of Islamism and Islamic militias recently, they may be people we can do business with amidst many we cannot.
Article from Slate here.
‘Moreover, the rise of Kurdish issues in all four states has changed the internal dynamics of Kurdish nationalism. An evolving trans-border current has produced a de facto Kurdish regional subsystem whose manifestations are several. First, the Kurds now imagine themselves to be one nation deserving to live on one united territory; this is new. Thus, the new mind’s-eye Kurdistan is portrayed as one unit divided into four parts: north Kurdistan (bakur) corresponding to the Kurdish region in Turkey, south Kurdistan (bashur) to that in Iraq, east Kurdistan (rojhelat) to that in Iran, and west Kurdistan (rojava) to that in Syria. No one should discount the power of having a common geopolitical language in a nationalist ambition.’
See Also: Dexter Filkins ‘From Kurdistan To New York’
Check out Sons Of Devils from the Atlantic a while back. Very interesting long-form piece on the Kurds.
During Christopher Hitchens’ 2009 appearance on Australia’s Q & A, he wore a Kurdish flag pin in solidarity and fielded a question from a Kurd (starts at minute 1:30…mentioned as the rest of the debate may be worth your time):
In his new book Where The West Ends, Michael Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.
Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”…From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’