The Future of Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Testing of an Independent Kurdistan
Throughout the spiralling chaos in the Middle East which has started with the invasion of Iraq both local and global powers have required a number of bodies to serve their varying demands, such as ISIS. While it is acknowledged that the current situation under the present borders is redundant, no one has been able to name a new option. It is within this frame that local and global powers needed an ISIS as a balm to seal the cracks of the present condition and also as a trigger to help form new borders and states, and more importantly as an instrumental tool to manage the crisis in the region. [Italiano]
I -Throughout the spiralling chaos in the Middle East which has started with the invasion of Iraq both local and global powers have required a number of bodies to serve their varying demands, such as ISIS. While it is acknowledged that the current situation under the present borders is redundant, no one has been able to name a new option. It is within this frame that local and global powers needed an ISIS as a balm to seal the cracks of the present condition and also as a trigger to help form new borders and states, and more importantly as an instrumental tool to manage the crisis in the region.
What has also become apparent to us through this phase was the switch in the United States’ attitude towards its strategic western allies. At the height of its dream to reconstruct and redesign the Middle East -from the invasion of Iraq onwards-, U.S had refused any interference from the West, opting instead to shape the region single-handedly according to its own imperialist interests. When things didn’t go according to the plan however they changed their tactics as the complexity of the task at hand had dawned on them. They realised that the English support is needed owing to their historic ability to decode the political codes of the region. And it is exactly this imperialist English influence that we must pause to reflect.
These developments, which have started with Iraq and then spread onto Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf countries, have the potential to affect Turkey and Iran, too. Within this phase, alongside an independent Kurdistan and Palestine, it is also possible to observe the formation of a sovereign Sunni state composed of the Iraqi and Syrian Sunni population. While another possible formation is that of Shiite and Nusayri states and new border lines within Iraq and Syria. Naturally, the possible formations are not limited to the options listed above. Depending on how one answers the following questions: Will the new Palestine state be established within its current borders or moved to Jordan, in accordance with the English agenda? What will become of Jordan, if such a scenario is to be activated? Who will be pasted onto whom? Is the sovereign Kurdistan state going to be a united formation or a dispersed one? It seems that we have more questions than answers at the moment…
When the Middle East is caught up in the claws of a domino-effect crisis, the possibility of a Persian-Arab war, or that of a Turkish-Arab one does not seem too far-fetched. Especially if you consider the state of the surrounding area, the political and military crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the struggles in South Pacific, we are confronted with a gloomy picture of wars on the local and global levels. This uncertain and risky atmosphere, needless to say, has a remarkably negative impact on global finances, too. Yet unfortunately, owing to a dysfunctional UN we do not have the means to quell this economic or psychological angst in the region. It turns out that ISIS is feed as a crisis management tool!
As I have previously written in my article “The Kurdish Oil, The Sunni Protest and Mosul,” the powers behind ISIS is a known fact. As was stated in that article, ISIS would not exist if it had not the support of Sunnite Arab populations of western Iraq and central and eastern Syria, yet there are wheels within wheels. If with a limited militant power it can seize an area like Mosul with its 3.5 million population and without a fight, and then move to the northeast towards Kurdistan, and also towards the southeast to Baghdad, then we can safely assume that the support behind ISIS cannot be limited to the tribal Sunnite Arabs of the region. There are other powers with different agendas here so ISIS is a multi-dimensional threat operating on a much deeper level.
As time progresses, we can read the changes in motive and attitude of the US and its western allies and it would not be wrong to say that they do change as the pot holes are detected in the process.
We see different sides of the US policy at different times. For instance, while its counselling calm and patience on the Kurds by not rushing into declaring its independence, it is also using ISIS as a tool to firm its security buffer position in the region. At other times, it does not refrain from using ISIS both towards and against the Kurds and Iraqis as a bargaining item. This tells me that what we must delve deeper into is ISIS’ moves and motives within this process. While the sudden and abrupt changes of direction ISIS attacks, as it had done while it was progressing towards Baghdad and ended up aiming for Kurdistan, have helped create a consensus between Iraq and Kurdistan by providing them both a common enemy to stand united against, it has also strengthened the US position in the area. However because in time as ISIS is going to become more and more redundant, there will undoubtedly be another Sunnite structure, perhaps an evolved version of ISIS at a later stage.
As the leading figures of the Sunnite political sphere, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are known to support ISIS for a number of reasons. For Turkey, this support serves two crucial aims: to fortify the Sunnite force in the Middle East, and to weaken and stagger the strengthening position of Western Kurdistan’s political influence. So to reach this aim, Turkey has not refrained from providing military and political assistance to ISIS. For Saudi Arabia, it has been firstly to falter the establishment of a neighbouring Shiite state following the separation of Iraq, and to balance the Shiite neighbour with the presence of a Sunni state; if and when it can be done. At this point in time, while Turkey has somewhat receded its assistance, Saudi Arabia is still on the pro-ISIS wing. On the other side, we have the Syrian Baath regime who does not actively help but leniently tolerate ISIS owing to its “let the dog eat dog” approach. ISIS’ attacks on Shengal and Kobani were a by-product of Turkish and Baath support.
Some claim that the Kurdistan government itself has benefited from ISIS, particularly following its attacks on Baghdad, but these half-baked observations clearly do not have a backbone as they crumble when one reverses the scenario to Baghdad. Has Baghdad benefited from ISIS’ attacks on Hewler? Why did ISIS then attack on Southern Kurdistan?
It is at this point that I would like to voice my observations about the Kurdistan government and its standing throughout these attacks. One can argue that, Kurdistan might be criticised for not having had the foresight to predict and consequently develop a measure against a possible attack, instead of relying on its position on the west side of the East-West schism. It is this short-sightedness that has caused them to miscalculate ISIS’ forthcoming moves and evaluate it only as an externally-funded, foreign-sourced organisation, rather than a formation that has been formed as a reaction of the Iraqi and Syrian Sunni population who have been under immense pressure under the rule of their Shiite governments. This is also the reason why I firmly believe that be it ISIS or a renewed version of it, there will be a Sunni state in the new Middle East.
ISIS attacks have not only united the Kurds and Shiites against a common security threat, they have also enabled Sunni Arabs to become a part of the Baghdad regime, following Maliki’s resignation. And as the Kurds, Shiites and Sunni Arabs have once again, though temporarily, agreed on a federal Iraq, for both local and global actors, ISIS is no longer a requisite. As the foreign support weavers, both as a result of their signature grotesque violence and premature declaration of its independence, ISIS is now an unwanted pharaoh.
II - Kurds must put aside internal political calculations. With joined forces (united operations) ISIS is now cleared off from southern Kurdistan cities. Kurdish Military Forces and Central Iraqi troops have regained Mahmor and Mosul damn, and are in the process of freeing Shangal, too. When Shengal is taken, ISIS will move towards western Kurdistan and northern Syria, as we have already received news of their attacks on Efrin.
In our prior call titled “May the invasion of Shengal be a national unity balm,” we have underlined our hope for a democratic and united Kurdish force against the enemy and how such a force can be influential in the defence of western Kurdistan, too. The Peshmerga, HPG, western Kurdistan fighters and YPG must not lose sight of Kobani and Efrin while clearing Shengal and its surrounding area of ISIS. They should remain a united force in putting together the broken pieces of Kurdistan. This is the joined wish of the Kurdistan people!
What is equally important is to keep that unity once this period is over too. The Kurds, from different parts of the region must remain loyal and devoted to the same national dream, and not let internal differences come in the way. If they start fighting with one another once ISIS is dealt with, that will be the end of this ancestral dream for all the Kurds living and dead. The issue of Shengal Mountain’s strategic importance and thus its management, for example, must not cloud the bugger picture.
It is obvious that the Kurdish political movement and party, as well as the matter of independence is causing a great discomfort to both Iran and Turkey. Equally apparent is the impact these two countries can have on the future of Kurdish sovereign state. So we must be vigilant and conscious of the cost of a potential power struggle between us. It should be acknowledged that if Peshmerga lose to ISIS, PKK cannot hold on to the western Kurdistan, neither could the southern part manage, had ISIS won in Kobani.
The way to counter the thread we have mentioned above is to settle on a united strategic consensus between all the parts involved at the National Congress. More than anything else, the interdependence and reliance between all the parts is a political enforcement of the broken Kurdistan geography. To provide such a crucial united force and act in a joined manner against all the obstacles, the Kurds must use their national democratic structures in order to create one big National Congress. From whatever angle we look at it, all signs point to the necessity of a National Congress but there seems to be not one but a multitude of obstacles before this.
The first and foremost obstacle is from within the Kurdish community, both owing to the split nature of the geography and to the different approaches to the national problem. Secondly, the discomfort of the occupying states and other foreign forces on the matter of Kurds uniting under the umbrella of National Congress. Under the present circumstances, the National Congress is vital but we should be prepared in advance to counter the problems outlined above.
III - What matters most is that Kurds themselves are ready for independence. As previously emphasized with the proverb “a single experience is more effective than a thousand advices,” the deficiency of Peshmerga in Shengal has thought us important lessons. Below are a few lines on these:
1) Peshmerga’s tactical change from the hit and run guerrilla warfare to an organised state defence military troop in land for the first time has indicated both a lack of experience and a lack of appropriate arms and weaponry for the purpose.
2) Lack of coordination and unity between Peshmerga and the KDP as well as the YNK meant that an united national army was not in existence.
3) Failing to foresee the attacks of ISIS has not only caused great agony to the Ezidi population but has also stained the respectability of Peshmerga.
As a result, through the attacks of ISIS our readiness for independence has been tested and it has been noted that there is still room for progress and improvement. Following its first nation-wide experience, Peshmerga has acted on these points and taken the necessary steps to upgrade its weaponry from international sources.
To finish with, what must be realised is that the matter is not whether one state supports or is against the independence of Kurdistan, it is whether Kurds themselves are ready for it or not. Alongside the weaknesses and deficiencies outlined above, Kurds must take into consideration the seven points presented in our previous article “History seeking a direction in the Middle East and the Independence of Kurdistan” to prepare for the days to come.