A 90-year betrayal must end....
Energy maven Robert Zubrin makes the case for Kurdish independence, and for American support for same. Zubrin notes the Kurds number some 30 million: 6.5M in Iraq, 2.2M in Syria, 7.3M in Iran & 13M in Turkey. RZ notes that several million more live outside the region.
He succinctly states the case for a pro-US Kurdistan:
It’s past time they had their own country. Indeed, it is a scandal that the U.S. State Department should lavish so much effort on trying to create yet another Arab state for the 4 million Palestinian Arabs (who could be readily accommodated if any substantial subset of the 23 existing Arab states collectively covering a region of continental size were to act decently and offer them citizenship), while ignoring the plight of the far more numerous and far more deserving Kurds.
In addition to the territory it currently controls, an independent Kurdistan could take territory from Iran, Syria, or Turkey. Iran and Syria are our enemies, and it clearly would be in the American interest for the new republic to liberate the Kurdish regions currently occupied by those hostile dictatorships and unite with them to form a substantial, fiercely American-allied Kurdish state. One part of this program could be readily accomplished, as the Kurds in Syria are already up in arms and forcefully fighting the Islamic State and, together with their brethren in Iraq, could, with adequate American support, readily crush the Islamists and unite the two Kurdish regions. Liberating Iran-occupied Kurdistan could follow and would greatly benefit the United States by providing us with bases from which, if it became necessary, air strikes on the Iranian nuclear program and other installations of interest could be significantly facilitated.
Turkey, however, is not an enemy, but rather a somewhat ambivalent ally, and this poses complications. Because of concerns that an independent Kurdistan might cause problems in its majority-Kurdish southeastern region, Turkey has historically voiced a strong preference that Kurdish independence be prevented. But this is a problem that can be worked on by diplomats. Both sides need to be talked to. For the Kurds, having an independent Kurdistan is an existential imperative. For the Turks, not having one is a preference. But there would be an upside for the Turks as well. The real national-security threat to Turkey comes not from Kurdistan, but from Russia and Iran. So there is a deal to be struck here. The Kurds get their own state, comprising territory now in Iraq, Syria, and Iran, and agree to leave Turkish Kurdistan alone. The Turks accept this, agree to treat the Kurds in Turkey better, and form an alliance with the new republic.
The Kurds were cheated out of a country after World War I. Arabs did well, despite having sided with the Axis powers. American policy since then has been driven above all by an ardent desire to conciliate Arab countries. For many professional diplomats Israel has been an unwelcome intrusion into their grand design of a pro-US Arab Mideast. Iran may be buying insurance against its Kurdish population breaking away by sending arms to the Kurds.
The Kurds, too, are for such officials an equally unwelcome geoplitical intrusion. Not Arab, they have been around for 5,000 years. The most famous Muslim jihadist of all, Saladin, more properly Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, was a Kurd. Having taken Jerusalem back from the Crusaders in 1187 AD, he went home to Damascus and never returned, dying in 1193. Amusingly enough, Saladin was Saddam Hussein's self-proclaimed role model, even as Saddam had Chemical Ali gas descendants of the legendary Kurdish warrior.
As Zubrin notes, the US protected Kurdish areas, establishing a safe zone in 1991, after Saddam survived Desert Storm; the Kurds repaid the favor by joining the 2003 coalition effort to unseat Saddam. When Barack Obama assumed the presidency in 2009 he inherited a hard-won loosely federated, democratic Iraq, courtesy of the Bush surge he passionately opposed as a senator. He had termed Iraq "safe and secure" in December 2009, a month when no US soldiers were killed in Iraq. But the president tossed that victory away when he walked out of Iraq.
Now, with a unified Iraq a lost prospect, as factions who do not trust one another compete for spoils, with ISIS on the march, the opportunity for a Kurdistan is more urgent than ever. A resolute president with a sound sense of where America's strategic interests lie would at least push for a quasi-independent, oil-rich Kurdistan. Then again, such a chief executive would not have walked away from Iraq and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Incredibly, the US now is blocking Kurdish ships from unloading oil, because it wants all oil marketed through the Iraqi government, anti-Kurdish & unwilling to share revenues. Team Obama also opposed a Kurdish-Turkey 2013 deal. One of the few times in recent years that an increasingly Islamist Turkey has furthered Western interests, and this administration opposes its policy.
One buyer, thankfully, is Israel, which facing constant threats to its security cannot afford the luxury of shafting allies. The Kurds have an estimated 45 billion barrels of oil reserves, and 6 trillion cubic meters (equal to 21.2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas; in turn, those gas reserves are equivalent to 37.8 billion barrels of oil.
Bottom Line. We are left with the hope that the Kurds can persevere until Jan. 20, 2017, when a new president takes office, one more attuned to America's geostrategic interests.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, Conservative Politics