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First take/Kurdistan

A couple of experts on the Kurds – the 40 million or so people stretched across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria – make a good argument on The Daily Beast today that the time has come for an independent Kurdistan.

As a practical matter that simply seems not to have been in the cards up to now. To get the independent state they have been seeking would mean getting several independent countries to give up a significant chunk of their population and territory, some of it oil-producing. And the leadership of some of those countries, present or past – Iraq and Turkey maybe most visibly – have been violently against the idea.

And trying to offer up independent countries to every ethnic group around the globe is, Woodrow Wilson to the contrary, not a real good idea.

However. Something like the protagonist in the Kipling poem “If,” the Kurds – who long have had a sort of shadow government in place and a military to go with it – have been a solid bulwark against their neighbors Daesh, holding their ground better than either the Syrian or Iraqi states. They are proving themselves a coherent force, and nation status could make them more effective. On top of that, they generally have been aligned with the West; the United States has worked with them informally for years.

Writers Aliza Marcus and Andrew Apostolou argue, though, that a single Kurdistan may yet be impractical, just because conditions in the four countries are so different. Iraqi Kurds have been all but independent for close to a quarter-century, while those in in Turkey are still struggling with the federal government there. Those in Iran remain repressed, while those in Syria are moving toward the Iraqi model.

But they do argue that giving the group international help is not beyond reach. Maybe, with the recent shootdown of a Russian plane by Turks kept in mind, the right leverage may be here to do that. – rs

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