[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

The Kurdish Complication
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] For several months, U.S. policy in Iraq and the occupation have been battered on all sides. Desperate now to shake up Allawi’s interim Iraqi government and control the insurrection, the last thing the U.S. needs right now is one more serious problem. That’s precisely what it’s getting. The Kurdish issue is rearing its head, and it won’t be easily resolved.

The Kurds are a rugged ethnic people who follow the Islamic faith. But they are not Arabs. In this respect, they are like the Iranians. The Kurds, who do not have their own state, inhabit portions of northern Iraq, northeast Iran and southeast Turkey.

Four million Kurds live in Iraq. About twenty percent of the Iraqi population.

For years the Kurds have dreamt of having their own nation. In the 1970s, the Kurds, encouraged by the United States and the Shah of Iran, commenced a rebellion. They came very close to achieving their dream. Then in 1975, they were betrayed by the United States when Washington acceded to the Shah’s request to withdraw support.

What followed was a blood bath and massacre of the Kurds. Saddam Hussein used all power and chemical weapons against them. In Saddam’s 1987-88 campaign alone, more than 100,000 Kurds were killed, including 5,000 gassed in Halabja.

The Kurds’ situation changed with the first U.S.-Iraqi war. The Kurds offered wholehearted support for the United States in that war.

From the time that it ended until the present, the Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed quasi independence. Assisted by the internally supported no fly zone over northern Iraq and a U.N. mandate providing them with a share of Iraq’s oil revenue, the Kurds have managed to create a democratic quasi state in the northern provinces of Iraq. They have developed institutions, conducted elections and lent support, to the extent it was requested by the United Sates, in the second Iraqi war.

In the discussions of recent months about the structure for the new Iraqi government, the Kurds have been reasonable. They have not insisted on an independent state. What they do want is that the new government be a federation among the three regions and ethnic people, sixty percent of whom are Shiites, and twenty percent of whom are Sunnis. The Kurds are the other twenty percent.

This means that the Kurds want a veto over the enactment of important laws. Otherwise the Kurds believe, and history supports, that the Arab majority will trample their rights.

This is what the Kurds were granted by the U.S. occupation authorities in the temporary administrative law governing Iraq until the adoption of the new constitution. However, the Kurds were betrayed by Washington once again when this language was dropped from the U.N. resolution in order to gain votes.

The bitter opposition to the Kurdish rights came not only from the Ayatollah Sistani and other Shiite leaders in Iraq, but from other Arab nations and Turkey which fears that if Kurds receive rights in Iraq, the Kurds in Turkey will push for a similar situation.

This time it appears that the Kurds won’t acquiesce so easily. They have more than 70,000 armed men, twice the planned strength of the Iraqi army. They don’t want Iraq army units in their areas, and will fight to the last man to keep them out.

The Kurds have made it clear to Washington that they will not join in a newly formed Iraqi government if they do not have their veto power. In a letter to President Bush, they wrote, “the people of Kurdistan will no longer accept second class citizenship in Iraq.”

This is no bluff. If they do not receive what they want, it is very likely that the Kurds will declare their independence from Iraq. Then they will move quickly to seize the city of Kirkuk, which has special significance for them, and also happens to be the center of one of the two Iraqi regions with the most substantial oil reserves.

If they do that, all hell will break loose. Although with what’s going on now, it might be more accurate to say even more hell will break loose.