Netanyahu: The boys were kidnapped by Hamas
Will the Western powers be able to take advantage of a new force in the Middle East power struggles?
The Kurds are an ancient Indo-European people whose origin is unknown, but who have inhabited the area of the Zagros and Taurus mountains of the Middle East since the beginning of history. They are divided into clans and tribes and currently inhabit portions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The most famous Kurd in history was Saladin (Salah-al-Din), the scourge of the crusaders. They have never had their own homeland but have always lived in areas ruled by other peoples.
That may be about to change. And if it happens and how it happens will add yet another element of uncertainty and danger to the already chaotic Near and Middle East. The Iraqi Kurds already have their autonomy and their own armed forces, as well as controlling a substantial portion of Iraq's oil production, which would provide an independent Kurdistan with a ready-made economic base. Relations are not good between the Shi'a dominated government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region. Syria's Kurds have been taking advantage of the anarchy in that country to take political control of their region in the north--east The Kurds of Turkey have been fighting the government in Ankara for decades, and any number of military offensives by the Turks have failed to defeat the insurgency.
The Kurds are well aware of the opportunities which are now opening to them. Iraq, and now Syria, offer sanctuary to the Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. The autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq is in a position to provide material and military support to their brethren in neighboring areas. The Iranian government is casting anxious eyes on their own substantial Kurdish population, which along with Azeris, Arabs and Baluchis, represent a large portion of the population, constantly in a state of ferment.
An independent Kurdistan would be resisted violently by all of the four countries where they live, but traditionally the Kurds have been a warlike people and, as the Turks have found out, they are very hard to keep down. This may be their truly historic opportunity to establish their independence, and they are most unlikely to let it pass.
What would this mean for the region? A weakening of all the countries involved. The establishment of a new state which would be neither Arabic nor Turkish nor Persian. And most salient of all, an opportunity for Europe, The United States and Israel to redress at least to some extent the balance of power in the region, dealing with a new entity that is not viscerally anti-Western.
Will they rise to the challenge, should the opportunity present itself? Unfortunately recent history does not give rise to much optimism in that regard, and losing such opportunity would be a historic mistake.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a lecturer at The Israeli National Defense College (MABAL), 2011-2012 session.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 20, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012
You comment was recieved and soon will be published.
Thank you for posting your comment, which will be reviewed for publication.
Load more comments
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens "dire consequences" following the kidnapping.
Questions over police response to kidnapping
Hours passed before a search operation was launched. Netanyahu holds Palestinians responsible.
Netanyahu bought furniture at public expense - report
"Yediot Ahronot": Attorney General is investigating if Netanyahu family bought furniture for its Caesarea private home.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer questioned by police again
Ben-Eliezer's son Yariv is also suspected of receiving money from Avraham Nanikashvili.
Reuven Rivlin elected president
Rivlin defeated Meir Sheetrit 63:53 in the second round vote in the Knesset.
Meir Sheetrit discloses owning five homes
The Presidential candidate has bowed to public pressure and declared his assets.
Police find $600,000 cash in Ben-Eliezer's bank
The source of the money found in Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's safety deposit box is unclear.
Presidential candidate Ruby Rivlin discloses assets
Dalia Dorner also disclosed her wealth, but Meir Sheetrit refused.
Dalia Itzik bought Tel Aviv home for NIS 4.6m last year
The Presidential candidate and former Knesset Speaker also owns two apartments in Jerusalem.
The venture capitalist who wants to transform Israel
Labor MK Erel Margalit tells "Globes" about his plans to improve the Start-Up Nation.
Combat cameramen disprove Palestinian propaganda
A unit of highly trained combat soldiers uses cameras to document military operations.
Truth is proving stranger than folktale as Turkey's spins out of Prime Minister Erdogan's control.
Prof. Zvi Eckstein supports NIS 3.30-3.40/$ floor rate
The former deputy Bank of Israel Governor is the first senior figure from the financial system to advocate a floor rate.
2014 will be year of change
Forces reshaping the Middle East are coming to a head, with Russia taking a close interest, and the West seemingly indifferent.
Gains and losses for Middle East secularists
Recent developments in Egypt, Syria and Turkey have clarified some issues, and obfuscated others.
Developing robots for warfare
Israeli research sees the future battlefield dominated by robots and unmanned devices.
Geneva changes Middle East strategic map
As the consequences of the nuclear agreement with Iran emerge, regional powers are scrambling to adapt.
Egypt has no time to lose
Unless economic reforms are introduced quickly, the country is liable to relapse into Islamic extremism.
Strange goings on in Turkey
Two recent decisions by Turkish prime minister Erdoğan make it look as though he is losing his grip.
See you in six months, Rouhani
Israel may look isolated over the nuclear deal with Iran, but the cards could yet fall its way.
China is changing
The Third Plenum of the Communist Party of the Peoples' Republic of China marks a turning-point in all areas of Chinese life - with consequences for Israel.
French gov't proposes building 2 Tel Aviv light rail lines
The Green Line from Herzliya to Holon and the Purple Line from Kiryat Ono to Tel Aviv would cost NIS 30 billion to build.
Israel's factious coalition looks wobbly on Iran
Besides US opposition, the state of Israel's government makes an attack on Iran unlikely.
Budget cuts threaten 10,000 defense industry jobs
Senior executives warn many factories are in danger of closing due to the drying up of defense ministry's orders.