Time to rectify a 90-year-old British blunder....
In the settlements that fashioned the modern Mideast, consummated between 1919 & 1924, the British committed a colossal blunder, denying the Kurds their own country. The case for a Kurdistan was far stronger than that for an ersatz Palestinian entity, but Palestine made the new map and the Kurds were, put simply, shafted.
History rarely offers second chances, but the destruction of Saddam's Iraq, an Islamist turn in Turkey, and the upheavals of the Arab Spring create anew the prospect for a Kurdistan, pro-US at that, if the present administration doesn't blow it. As London Mayor Boris Johnson put it:
It was only in May this year that we welcomed a dynamic and forward-looking young politician to City Hall in London. His name is Nechirvan Barzani, and he is the prime minister of the fledgling state of Kurdistan. He brought his finance guy, his transport minister, his tourism minister – the whole lot.
For about an hour we talked about the great Kurdish boom, and their plans to build ski resorts, hotels: how to put the place firmly on the map for the British tourist. We talked about how to beat traffic congestion and how London could help advise with transforming Erbil into the natural banking centre of the Middle East.
We ended pledging deeper cooperation, and the prime minister presented London with a lovely embroidered carpet and some scenes of Kurdistan (all duly registered), and I presented him with a copy of one of my books and some engraved whisky glasses, though I am not sure how much whisky they drink out there. I promised to come as soon as possible to inaugurate the ski slopes.
Johnson recounts history as backdrop to the current Kurdish crisis:
[I]t was a British decision to join in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and in the removal of Saddam Hussein; and pace Tony Blair, it is obvious to most sane and rational people (a category that seems not to include Blair) that one of the results of the end of Saddam and the Ba’athist tyranny has been the power vacuum in Iraq, and the incompetence that has allowed Isis to expand with such horrifying speed. The final reason why we should come to the aid of the Kurds and others is that it is in our interest to do so.
After the end of the Gulf War in 1991, British PM John Major joined the US in establishing a safe haven for the Kurds in the north, preventing their annihilation by Saddam. Tony Blair joined George W. Bish in launching the second Iraq War in 2003, creating the vacuum into which (due to the Obama crowd's strategic laxity) ISIS rushed.
Stir in the world's 6th largest estimated oil reserves, a functioning democracy committed to respecting all religions and--a rarity in the Muslim worlds--full rights for women, and it is a no-brainer that America should welcome Kurdistan's independence from a tribalist Shia-dominated, dictatorial & corrupt Iraq.
Sadly, though the US belatedly is supplying modern arms to the Kurds to fend off genocidal ISIS, it appears that Team Obama is as clueless of this geostrategic prize as in so many other areas. Given that the area controlled by the Kurds includes oil riches in the Kirkuk oilfields, America's obtuse attitude beggars the imagination.
Bottom Line. We will have to pray for Iraqi ineptitude to sunder what the Brits so unwisely put together 92 years ago. Let the three Ottoman villayets (provinces) become separate countries, rather than a rickety, too close to Iran, loosely united Iraq.
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