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Kurdish Independence... Fears and Premonitions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Opinion

Kurdish Independence… Fears and Premonitions

A general view shows the Citadel of Erbil in Erbil

I am almost certain that most of Arabs outside of Iraq sympathize with Kurdistan’s desire for independence. President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani reiterated that during his campaign and interviews expressing Iraqi-Kurdish point of view and its inclination towards independence, which Barzani has been fighting for since the sixties.

Personally, I am with Iraqi-Kurds’ right to establish their own state.

However, politically and rationally speaking, the aspiration for independence must meet certain requirements before it is established. It is not enough to prepare the Kurdistan region to become a state, Iraqi must also equip itself to continue without the region.

Most probably, Kurdistan’s exit of the state will instantly threaten the sectarian demographic balance in Iraq which could also lead to further internal wars.

Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq has become controlled by political sectarian dominance dividing the country further more. The country was under the control of a relative balance with half the population Sunnis and the other half Shiites, despite the controversy around those old statistics.

Half of the Sunnis are Arabs while the other half are Kurds and without reforming the political system, Kurds’ independence will threaten Iraq due to alterations in the ratios.

Iraq’s governing system is parliamentary which depends on the representation of each party.

Sunni Kurds leaving Iraq will lead to an imbalanced system precisely al-Anbar, which will affect Iraq’s security whether Anbar’s independence was achieved or not.

This is a real dilemma for the politicians protecting the Iraqi regime who are looking for alternatives for Iraqi Kurds, yet they don’t rise to a level of separation.

In addition, Iraq’s dismantle into several states threatens other countries.

The region inherited the current status according to Sykes-Picot Agreement. The agreement divided the borders of the crescent and the Arabian north at the onset of the last century. Under its protection, the British government added Kurdistan to Iraq.

Most states in the region are against the separation of the Kurdistan region fearing it might encourage separation tendencies in the region.

We can’t forget that most of the region was almost united under the control of Turkey, then under the British and French administration. The region was divided within national states like many other regions in the world.

Most regions accepted the old situation even though the borders’ distribution didn’t take into consideration the similarities and differences between countries and nations that were united within modern states.

Kurdish people are the history’s victims because they were separated by foreign agreements.

If Iraqi Kurds gained their independence, Turkey will be worried also since there are Kurdish citizens among its population. Kurds in Turkey are double those of Iraq, and so are those of Iran.

Those concerns are restrains; fear of other Kurds calling for independence, fear of dismantling the rest of Iraq and fear of an increased number of separation requests in the region.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said separation of any region or part of the country is conditioned with the approval of the central government in Baghdad. This is not likely to happen within the current agitated political situation.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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