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Free Kurdistan

Judging by Peter Galbraith's excellent The End of Iraq, the advent of Kurdistan as a distinct country has occurred in all but name. The language is different, the identity is different (most Kurds are Sunnis, but declare themselves Kurds first), … Read More

By / August 21, 2006

Judging by Peter Galbraith's excellent The End of Iraq, the advent of Kurdistan as a distinct country has occurred in all but name. The language is different, the identity is different (most Kurds are Sunnis, but declare themselves Kurds first), and you won't find the flag of democratic Iraq flapping in Suleimania, Erbil or Dohuk. To drop "Sevres" into casual conversation in any of these three Iraqi governates would be like mentioning "Balfour" in 1945 Brooklyn. The spark of self-determination awaits the right wind to catch fire, if you'll pardon the hoary Orientalist metaphor. And if sectarian killing and anarchy in the rest of Iraq reaches the parliamentary level — where, with a preeminent Kurd as president, it has yet to divide state with demands for secession — then the Kurds are ready to put the official stamp of independence on the de facto variety they've been enjoying for over a decade. It is their constitutional right as Iraqis to do this, not to mention their moral right as victims of genocide and centuries-long persecution. With 30,000 million in diaspora, they're as much entitled to their own state as the are Palestinians, or as were the Jews or Ukrainians. The precedent for a unified "Iraq" isn't all that compelling. This is Michael Totten in Reason:

If Middle Easterners had drawn the borders themselves, Iraq wouldn’t even exist. Blame the British for shackling Kurds and Arabs together when they created the post-colonial, post-Ottoman map. The Kurds do. Like the English, they refer to a toilet as “a W.C.”—but they insist that stands for “Winston Churchill.”

History has suffered incalcuably by having valid arguments mouthed by the worst human beings. Tariq Aziz was fond of reiterating the Saddamist line during the first Gulf War that Kuwait "belonged" to Iraq because the latter territory was delineated by arrogant English cartographers after the World War I and was therefore subject to native reassessment. To accept this was to accept that Kuwaitis, too, had a legitimate grievance with their own boundaries and just as much of a claim to redraw them through conquest and annexation… Where does post-colonalism end? How far back do we have to go to "remake" the Middle East? With Kurdistan, the destination has already been reached by on-the-ground realities. No less important, so has justice.

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