Friday, June 13, 2014

And the winner (so far) is...

The Kurds! They get their prize after all these years.

This one has the best headline.

ADDING: The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this might be the Kurd's best shot at getting their own internationally recognized state. If Iraqi Kurdistan keeps the oil flowing from its territory and remains an island of stability in an otherwise chaotic region, the rest of the world might give in if the Kurds insist on being recognized as an independent country.

The neighbors will object, of course. But the governments of Iraq and Syria will be too distracted by ISIS and other rebels that pose a more immediate threat to squawk much about it. Also, if this de facto partition of Iraq continues for any significant portion of time, it is possible that the leaders of Shia Iraq might see it in their interests to give up any claims to the Kurdish region and try to use Kurdistan as an ally against ISIS/Sunni Arabs.

So among the objecting neighbors that just leaves Turkey and Iran. The international community doesn't give much of a shit about Iran. So all that is left is Turkey. Turkey is an influential country, so that will be a real problem for international recognition. But dealing with one objector is do-able. If the Kurdish leadership is smart, they might be able to buy off the Turks. Maybe offer letting the Turksbe the middle man in all sales of Iraqi Kurdish oil and for Iraqi Kurdistan give up any claims to all of the Kurdish region in Turkey.

The bottom line is that for a long time regional politics has stymied the development of a real Kurdish state. The non-Kurdish actors in the neighborhood, for all their differences, were united in their opposition to the idea. But the neighborhood is changing. (Also, over a decade of autonomy for Iraqi Kurdistan without the sky falling hasn't hurt.) It's still unlikely, but for once I can imagine a path towards statehood for the Kurds.