Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are the only group successfully containing the brutal Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Iraq. It is to America’s credit that it is actively supporting these fighters based on its humanitarian tradition, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
Europe is considering providing weapons to the Peshmerga. Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is travelling to Kurdistan to set conditions for Germany to deliver weapons. One of the conditions appears to be that the Kurdish autonomous region remains part of Iraq.
The Kurds in northern Iraq are clear that now is the time for their region to achieve independence. It appears that they even have support from the Erdogan government in Turkey, which is making progress solving the Kurdish issue in Turkey.
Kurdish autonomous areas, inside or associated with a wider Turkish area or federation, would make a lot of sense. Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, has made speeches and appearances in Turkey alongside Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
The reality of this is not accepted by the ‘international community’ or those who believe in the status quo.
The GIS World Reports for 2012-2013 and 2014 highlighted the problem of the political construct of Iraq. GIS reiterated that Iraq cannot continue as one country in a statement ‘The Demise of Iraq’ on June 19, 2014.
Iraq is an artificial state carved out of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. It functioned in the form of a Hashemite monarchy, able to balance the interests between Arab Shiites, Arab Sunnis and Kurds and able to protect minorities such as Christians, Yazidis and Turkmens.
Iraq fell under various bloody dictatorships following the 1958 army coup which overthrew the monarchy and assassinated the King and the Crown Prince. The ‘democratic’ government, established after President Saddam Hussein (1979-2003), fell under the control of the Shiites, the strongest group, and the country was insufficiently federal to balance the interests of other groups.
The Kurds are now defending the civilised world, refugees and themselves against the sweep of the so-called ‘IS Caliphate’, formerly called ISIS. The US and Europe have still to realise that to maintain the fiction of a one-state Iraq only supports IS on one side and a corrupt phantom of a Shia-Arab dominated democracy on the other. The US still takes the view that Kurdistan’s regional government cannot sell oil directly through Turkey, but should sell it through Baghdad, according to a Financial Times report in August 2014.
Apart from Turkey’s position, other concerns about a free Kurdish state could include disapproval from Iran, which has some seven million Kurds living in its borders. The Turkish regional position could be strengthened.
It is highly unlikely that the Shia Arab area in southern Iraq will fall to IS control but there is concern that it becomes an Iranian satellite and upsets the balance.
Therefore the European and US positions on the integrity of Iraq are schizophrenic. They ignore the realities of the Kurdish wish for self-determination in order to maintain a buffer state. The only explanation for this is a desperate wish to maintain the status quo by applying accepted Western dogma.
This is bound to fail and will make the situation go from bad to worse. The self-appointed ‘IS Caliphate’, claiming to protect Sunni interests, will emerge strengthened by the stance to keep Iraq unconditionally unified.