There’s an old Kurdish saying that, “The Kurds have no friends.”
They say this because they are a people and a nation divided into territories of other nations (see red areas of the map above) who have never been helped by anyone in their quest for independent nationhood. Parts of Iran are Kurdish. Parts of Iraq are Kurdish. Parts of Turkey are Kurdish. Parts of Syria are Kurdish. Part of what’s left of the Russian empire is Kurdish.
The enemy of my enemy is
the friend of my...oh nevermind!
Until recently, the Kurdish territory in Iraq was reportedly the least hostile to American troops of all Iraqui territory. After all, the Kurds were the people who got bombed with poison gas by the late Saddam Hussein. Watching Baghdad get busted up was something they must have enjoyed. I don’t imagine a single Kurd shed a single tear when Saddam met his end at the end of the rope. Moreover, chaos in Baghdad meant more autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan.
But there a few small problems with Kurdistan’s good news. First of all, a Kurdistan that's feeling its oats makes various other nations – none of them friends of the Kurds – nervous. That includes the United States which doesn't want an independent Kurdistan either. Or so we say. We still take the position that Iraqi Kurdistan is part of Iraq. Just like our old pal Saddam Hussein used to say.
A big passel of "what ifs...?"
What if Iraqui Kurdistan somehow actually won its independence? Would Turkish Kurdistan want to join them? What about Iranian Kurdistan? What about a Syrian Kurdistan? Did I mention Armenian Kurdistan, the Kurdistan located in the Soviet Union? This could raise hell with the internal management of the entire area.
When Kurds on the Turkish border get, uh, a bit frisky, as they seem to have been doing, ambushing, killing and kidnapping Turkish troops, Turkey gets highly peeved, as it has just done. So Turkey is massing troops in the Iraq border, not as part of a “coalition of the willing” but more likely as an expedition of the pissed off.
That in turn has led to frantic negotiations between the U.S. State Department and the Turks. Condi Rice herself is trying to hold this tiger by the tail.
But if Condi fails to mollify the Turks, they may cut off American military access via their country to Northern Iraq. And they may invade.
On the other hand, if the Iraqui Kurds somehow actually prevail, this may somehow give Iranian Kurds inspiration to rebel, which I speculate could provide Iran with a causus belli to get disagreeable about their nuclear weapons enterprises and blow something up. As for Syria – who knows?
Cold war and nuclear standoffs, anyone?
Or perhaps we could do World War III
I can’t even imagine where the Russians will come out on this one, given what else is going on. At the very least it’s more kindling for a cold war revival. Or for some hapless American troops to get caught in the crossfire between Kurds and Turks. Or Iranians and Kurds. Or Russians and Kurds. Or Iranians and Iraqis. Or Iranians and Russians. Or any strange combination of the above.
Maybe the U.S. will decide to solve the problem and mollify the Turks, Iranians, Russians and possibly the Syrians by bombing the Kurds, just the way Saddam Hussein did. That would bring this insane war full circle. One of our excuses for invading Iraq was that Saddam Hussein “bombed his own people,” meaning Iraq's Kurdish people. Shucks, we may start to think that’s our job. Of course, when that happens we won’t call them Kurds. We’ll call them “terrorists.”
I see by your swagger
that you are a cowboy...
“Bring ‘em on!” said George Bush, some time ago, his voice full of cowboy swagger. Now look at the constantly expanding mess we've got.
Well George, here’s an old cowboy maxim for you, even if I just made it up:
Never stick your bare arm in a bagful of rattlesnakes.