It Is Time to Take Action for Northern Iraq Before It Is Too Late

The independence referendum in Northern Iraq was held on September 25 as previously stated, despite the objections and calls for postponement or cancellation from nearly the whole world. In truth, this is an undertaking so dangerous that it may drive the entire Middle East to the brink of a new catastrophe. So, what will come after this?

It may be possible to make some gains through coercion, imposition, opportunism, hollow dreams, one-sided decisions, and the mentality of "we made it happen" with a blatant disregard for laws. However, this is not the way to establish an independent Kurdish state. Hopefully, the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (IKRG) President Mesud Barzani will soon realize his mistake and back down from his undue, untimely and unseemly persistence.

In fact, Barzani correcting his mistake before long would be the best solution; yet, as the current developments seem to indicate, Barzani seems quite tenacious. Perhaps he is unable to find a way out of the predicament he is in, or it might very well be that he has been given certain promises behind closed doors, or under constant threat. However, even if his intentions are coming from a good place, acting in this way will not make him a national hero, but a leader who drags his people into devastation and misery.

Longing for independence is an understandable reaction for our downtrodden, innocent Iraqi Kurdish brothers and sisters, who have suffered terribly for years. But the separation of Iraq and the foundation of a Kurdish state in its stead certainly will not bring them peace, serenity, stability and prosperity, especially in this critical period that the region is going through. Attempting to establish a state upon a one-sided, illegitimate decision by defying the Iraqi Constitution without the consent of the UN and international organizations - or even the support of neighboring countries - will only bring about new and ceaseless conflicts.

What benefit can a small, weak, powerless Kurdish state that is doomed to isolation and struggling with social, political and economic issues offer for the people of the region? Under current circumstances, it can offer nothing but problems. Such a state will solely benefit the PKK terrorist organization. The biggest risk it may entail is the newly founded state comes under PKK control through an assassination or a putsch; thus the PKK, who have long sought to found a communist-Stalinist state, would achieve its ultimate goal. And Northern Iraq coming under the PKK control spells merciless suffering for the Kurdish people residing there at the hands of  bloodthirsty terrorists,  plunging the region into  never-ending turmoil. Without doubt, this will not only affect the Kurds, but all the peoples of the region, as the PKK’s tyranny will target each and every one of them.

The statement "now I can die" that Barzani uttered after the referendum is most likely an emphasis on the fact that he is not afraid of anything. But as a pious and conservative leader, his main concern must be the future state of his people after he has stepped down. At this stage, the best course of action to follow for Barzani and the IKRG officials is to cast aside their emotions and act with common sense. If he is being held under threat, the most definitive solution would be to act in concert with the countries of the region, particularly Turkey.

What is hoped from the Iraqi Central Government and the IKRG is to sit down at the conference table right away and solve their problems through negotiation and diplomacy. It is again hoped that the parties will settle their disputes on issues such as the status of Kirkuk and other controversial regions, oil distribution and revenue shares, and the control of the border gates without impairing the unity and integrity of Iraq. However, putting this solution into practice seems quite unlikely: the IKRG's irreconcilable attitude makes it harder to reach a settlement.

That being said, considering the gravity of the situation and the significance of the threat, there is clearly no time to lose. Waiting for a unilateral declaration of independence before taking measures would be a terrible mistake. The crisis in Northern Iraq could suddenly and rapidly spiral out of control; it could trigger wars that may lead to the further separatism, hostility and devastation throughout the entire Middle East. Even at the independence referendum stage, the fact that the PKK was deploying troops and heavy weaponry to the IKRG’s cities was no secret: The PKK obviously thinks that it has found a golden opportunity to take control of the region. And an independent, small, easy-to-swallow Kurdish state will, under the current circumstances, offer the PKK the opportunity it has long been waiting for. Such a threat should be averted by an alliance of the regional countries.

At this point, it is imperative that the Baghdad administration acts in unison with the two powerful nations of the region, Turkey and Iran. On a side note, the recent mutual visits and statements between Turkey and Iran is a harbinger of wonderful cooperation. By drawing on the support of Turkey, Iran and Russia, Iraq can take political, diplomatic and economic steps towards tackling the crisis in unity and solidarity. There is no doubt that joint measures will contribute greatly towards the solution of the issue. There is another point to consider here; maximum care should be taken to ensure that the measures to be taken do not make the already hard lives of the fellow Kurds in Northern Iraq even more difficult.

Nevertheless, those measures and incentives could well prove ineffective in achieving stability and averting conflicts, or end up dragging out the issue further. Military precautions are also necessary to prevent the issue from escalating into a human tragedy just as horrific - or even worse - than that seen in Syria. A peacekeeping force to be formed together by Turkey, Iran and Iraq will be the firmest reassurance of stability in the region. An army comprising of Sunni and Shiite corps, an indiscriminate combination of ethnic identities and sects, would prove to be an unprecedented and immense deterrent force. Peace, tranquility, safety and stability could be established quickly and easily without resorting to war and bloodshed. Creating such an alliance and the existence of a Muslim peace force is a sine qua non to nip in the bud all possible new future catastrophes in the Iraq and, more broadly, in the Middle East once and for all.

Adnan Oktar's piece in Al Bilad (Canada)

2017-11-06 03:00:34

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