New Kurdish strategy needed 

Thursday, April 13, 2006 - By Dr Rebwar Fatah

With Iraq moving to sectarian war, Kurds need to consider a new strategy.

As you read, Arabian parts of Iraq are slumping into a sectarian war. It is therefore necessary for Kurds to adapt a new strategy in building their relationship with Iraq, in particular the Shiia and Sunni communities, not least the international community.

Perhaps the crux of this strategy is for Kurds to be neutral of the conflict between Shiia and Sunni communities. It is dangerous for Kurds to be dragged into any sectarian conflict which goes back to hundreds of years. The Kurdistani bloc in the Iraqi Assumedly needs to coordinate this with the Parliament of Kurdistan.

The people of Kurdistan must feel that they are part of the political system and they are represented by the leadership. This cannot be achieved if the socio-political system is unfair. Kurdistan must move towards a society that is regulated by democratic institutions, and not dominated by political parties, clans or individuals. The regional powers may not have much interest in the unrest and the sectarian conflict in Iraq but they are on the lookout for any unrest in Kurdistan.

Kurds must not put all their strategic eggs in the Iraqi basket. An outward strategy to the democratic world is vital for Kurdistan’s survival. The Parliament of Kurdistan needs to be the only legislative power. Then it needs to establish cooperation with the governments and parliaments in the democratic world. This would ensure the survival of Kurdistan as a political entity even if the situation of Iraq falls into a civil war. Perhaps establishing a foreign affair committee as part of the Kurdistan Parliament would be a prerequisite to start this outward-looking strategy. One of the objectives of the committee could be the establishment of a Kurdistani bloc in the European Parliament and membership in the UN, even if it is an observor member.

As instability and unrest moves to parts of Kurdistan outside the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), it is the responsibility of the KRG to pursue the protection of Kurdistanis in these areas, which includes Kirkuk, Diyala, Mosul and Kut. Turkey has already claimed that in the case of civil war, she would pursue protecting ethnic Turkmens. Turkey only has interest in Turkmens of Kirkuk, not others.

Justice must be done to deported Kurds in the Arabised parts of Kurdistan, but there is no much chance under the current chaos. The Iraqi election took place on 15 December 2005, and after more than 3 months, no government has yet been established. Furthermore, the conflict between main Iraqi factions is deepening to a level that a resolution in a foreseeable future is not very likely. The longer it takes, the more difficult to de-Arabise areas outside the KRG in accordance to Article 58 of the Transitional Administration Law (TAL). Kurds face a critical question: if Iraq slumps into a civil war or if the Iraqi leadership cannot agree on the establishment of an Iraqi government, do Kurds still wait and let Arabisation become de facto? It is already too late.

One effective step would be for the population of these areas to be represented in the Kurdistan Parliament. The Kurdistan Parliament can assist in establishing civil and education institutions while helping in providing services and security for them. In this way, the population of these areas, whether they are Kurds or not, would feel more Kurdistani.

Kurds of Bagdad are vital extension of Kurdistan and must not be overlooked. Baghdad is also an important place that Kurds need to concentrate on. An estimated 1.5 million Kurds in Baghdad can become an important string to the bow of the Kurdish influence in Iraq. In the last December election few thousands voted for the Kurdistan list. Some mechanism must be found to bring Kurds of Baghdad into the political process.

Other parts of Kurdistan must not be forgotten. The strength of the Kurds does not lie only in Iraqi Kurdistan, rather, in the totality of Kurds. Even if political cooperation is too sensitive with the regional powers, cultural and linguistic cooperation can bring Kurds together, which assist in the strength to the Kurdish issue.

We must not forget that the intervention Turkey in Southern Kurdistan’s affairs was based on a wrong assumption that Kurds of Turkey do not exist. However the recent unrest in Kurdistan areas of Turkey has proven that Turkey can slide into a terrible situation if the Kurdish issue is not solved amicably.

For the survival of Kurdistan, the Kurds must utilise all the aspects of Kurdish issue, building strategy that targets friends and enemy alike.

Thanks to Chris Lacey.