MESOP TODAY’S COMMENTARY BY LEWIS BARBER – Jerusalem Post
In a world of contradictions, particularly in foreign policy, it seems no surprise that the world has dealt with the issue of statehood for Palestine and Kurdistan in very different ways.Despite its government supporting terrorism and launching an unprovoked war last summer, Palestine has been rewarded for its behaviour with advocation in the Security Council by some members and recognition among individual Parliaments across the Western World. In contrast, Kurdistan has been largely neglected. Last week, the Kurds were ignored for an anti-ISIS conference in London causing rage among the regions’ elected representatives. On top of this, only three governments have been prepared to recognise the genocide against the Kurds perpetuated by the Hussein government. Instead, those Westerners who simultaneously articulate a staunch anti-Iraq war stance, would rather speak of a non-existent genocide in the Palestinian Territories.
Naturally the root of the issue may well be drawn from anti-Israel prejudice in some quarters and government’s ignoring of the Kurds just goes to show how the West continues to abandon those who stand for the same values as we do, particularly in the tumultuous Middle East. While the Palestinian Territories do not fit any of the criteria for statehood set forth by the UN and continue to punish political and ethnic opponents via systematic human rights’ abuses, Kurdistan has the potential to be a flourishing success.
Just like Israel, Kurdistan would provide a homeland for a dispersed people. With other 50 million people the Kurds are the largest ethnic group without a home. Persecution over the years has left over 1 million Kurds dead and establishment of a state would add further protection to Kurdistan and its people via the international community and law.
Not only do the people want to be independent, with a referendum showing 98% of the population supportive of such a move, but the structures are in place for the country to grow into a functioning ally for the West in a region increasingly bereft of such. With Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan all either collapsed or at imminent risk of doing so, the Kurds have shown themselves the only fighting force capable of withstanding ISIS’ war. This is not the only time the Peshmerga has shown itself to be friendly to the West, having helped topple Hussain and working with the Americans to capture Bin Laden.
Such military capabilities alone are important and alongside Israel would prove a safe haven for Western forces and a very definite frontline for our values against tyranny. Yet, countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia both could be seen as uncomfortable allies. For the former, extreme poverty and corruption has fostered the conditions for extremism and has led to the fall in the government while for the latter the nations’ human rights record does not sit well in our society. Kurdistan, just like Israel, has the potential to overcome these two issues and become a reliable, long term partner for the West.
Economic resources are rich in Kurdistan. The oil fields within what would be a Kurdish state currently have the potential to pump out 250,000 barrels a day, enough to fuel vast economic growth in a region that has been largely restricted because of ethnic strife, particularly in Iran and Northern Iraq. Just like Israel’s people, the Kurds are largely discriminated right across the Middle East and Turkey, the so called gateway to Europe, is particularly hostile. Yet, Israel has shown what a difference natural resources and a booming economy can make to diplomatic ties. Finally, the society the Kurds wish to build has its foundation in Western values. Although Kurdistan would be the home of the Kurds, just as Israel is the home of the Jews, it’s leaders have already spoken of the desire to build a secular state with protection for minorities and women not seen anywhere across the Arab and Persian world. The potential the Kurds have is exciting and rather for rewarding terror as we saw through recognition of Palestine, activists and governments’ should be pushing for a Kurdish state as a reward for the sacrifices made, the structures in place and the Western values they espouse. http://www.jpost.com/Blogs/A-Shining-Beacon/A-Middle-East-of-Contradictions-Kurdistan-v-Palestine-389282