(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — The Kurdish question is a polarizing topic within independent media circles. Some in alternative media support Kurdish independence while others appear to feel threatened by the proposition.
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The conflict is kicking off quite dramatically, and there are three main arguments that have been advanced against Kurdish independence.
The first argument is that Kurdish independence would benefit Israel and/or the United States, or, at least, the neoconservatives who run these two countries. The second argument is that the Kurdish militias are responsible for egregious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The third major argument appears to be that the Kurds are proxy forces who have consistently destabilized the Middle East throughout history.
Benefit to Israel and/or the U.S. Neoconservative Agenda
This is a non-argument for a number of reasons. Never mind that the U.S. has been openly unsupportive of Kurdish independence, which should be enough to quash this argument in the first place. The fact of the matter is that if one were to frame all independent political movements for autonomy in relation to the countries that support and/or benefit from them, there would be virtually no movement on the planet worth supporting.
There is no state in the current global structure whose primary concern is human rights. Iran does not support the Kurdish independence movement, but it supports the rights of the Palestinians affected by Israel’s brutal policies. Similarly, Israel supports the Kurdish movement for political reasons but doesn’t recognize Palestine or its people’s right to self-determination.
To frame this argument in another way, one could easily argue that the 2003 invasion of Iraq actually posed a monumental nuisance for the United States as it has struggled to put down a radical insurgency for years, even though invading Iraq (for the second time) was the neoconservative dream. If anything, the major winner and benefactor of the 2003 invasion was Iran, as Iran was gifted a Shia-led government that aligned itself somewhat with Tehran. Some years later, Iran has set its sights on more or less taking control of Baghdad. The U.S. is not calling all the shots in Iraq as they envisioned. Instead, Iran has basically created a Shia-dominated bridge spanning from Iran through Iraq and Syria and into Lebanon. This has angered the United States and its allies.
Using this logic, does that mean alternative media opposed to U.S. militarism should retroactively support the invasion of Iraq because it affected U.S. interests negatively and bolstered the interests of its rival?
Of course not. In that context, it shouldn’t matter if the move would benefit Israel or the United States — or any of their allies for that matter — if the issue to be determined is the freedom of a people to self-rule. Even if Kurdish independence didn’t benefit the neoconservative agenda in any immediate and obvious way, you can be assured the U.S. would find a way to spin the story in favor of their own interests, anyway, as they have done so often in the past.
Kurdish War Crimes
This, too, is ultimately an irrelevant consideration in determining the matter. Why? Because this is the same argument the powers-that-be have used to vilify indigenous populations throughout history that have been fighting for their own right to self-rule. The Maori in New Zealand fought back against British troops using guerrilla-style tactics. Contrary to popular belief, the British ended up colonizing New Zealand with brutal and lethal force. Is it correct to demonize the Maori for their tactics given the historical context?
If anything, this is the same neoconservative argument Israel uses to demonize the Palestinian people and justify attacks on civilian targets. In Gaza, militants are infamous for suicide bombings; Palestinians often stab Israelis in brutal and deadly attacks, and Hamas rocket fire has been branded a war crime. Western media also reports that the majority of Palestinians (not just the militants, but the people) support suicide bombings.
If the violent aspect of these movements is relevant in the Kurdish question, should it not be as equally relevant in the Palestinian one, as well? Why is it that alternative media commentators deem the Palestinian cause to be just but condemn the Kurdish one? One has to wonder if there is a valid reason to separate the two; and if the Palestinian people can be separated from the militants who exact war crimes, then so should the millions of Kurdish people who don’t fight for any militia at all.
Kurds Are Being Used to Destabilize the Middle East
The majority of the Kurdish opposition arguments appear to come from outlets that are typically pro-Syrian government. However, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government has actually gone on record to acknowledge they are open to negotiating with the Kurds, stating that “[t]his topic is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh [ISIL], we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future.”
In the same vein, without going too far into the history of the Kurdish movement and the various puppet strings that have been attached to the Kurdish people, the question must be asked: even if Kurdish independence posed a major threat to the Syrian state and broke up the Middle East even further than it already has been, is this reason enough to deny Kurds their individual rights and freedoms?
In order to see what is being referred to here, consider what has been going on in the Middle East for the last few decades. In 2015, Turkey waltzed into Iraq and refused to leave, occupying a small portion of the country. Jihadist rebels, including ISIS fighters, have been crossing the Turkish border into Syria, as well as back and forth across the Iraq-Syria border ever since the 2003 invasion. Corporate media has repeatedly argued that the Assad government allowed jihadists to travel from Syria to Iraq in order to counter the American invasion. In 2009, Iranian troops also roamed unanswered into Iraq to occupy an oil-rich part of the country, and the U.S. could do nothing but sit on their hands and watch. Iran is now re-populating areas of Syria with Shia families in their ultimate bid to formally create a Shia-dominated bridge as referred to above.
Whether you like it or not, almost every player in the region is in the business of destabilizing (or stabilizing in their own favor, depending on one’s perspective) the area surrounding Iraq, which has been a failed state for some time now.
As far as anyone can tell, the only actions that will bring about further destabilization are the actions of those players who seek to quash Kurdish independence, as they seem set to interfere and spread more violence in achieving this aim.
All that being said, the Kurdish referendum result overwhelmingly favored independence. The people of West Papua have also voted overwhelmingly in favor of seceding away from Indonesia’s brutal occupation in a petition brought before the U.N. Would you oppose the rights of West Papuans based on any of the considerations above?
If not, why? People cannot be punished for being born in a particular region, and all people should be born with the same fundamental rights and freedoms. If you support independence movements in some places and oppose them in others, one would hope you surely have a decent argument to support it.