I know many of you are focused on the NFL and antics of very disrespectful multimillionaires who get to play for a living. However, there’s something very important that just happened in the Middle East.
If we go back to the end of World War I, the British and the French signed what is known as the Sykes-Picot Treaty which basically established the Middle East as we know it. It was their intention to punish the Ottoman Empire (today Turkey), and create nation-states in the Middle East. Then-Turkish leader, Kemal Ataturk, wanted to have a secular Islamic state that was not privy to the pitfalls of radical jihadism, or hegemonic conquest. As well, the British and the French did their best to accommodate the Arabs who had enabled them to be successful against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had been brutal and two of their most notable attempts at genocide, mass massacres, were against the Assyrian Christians and the Armenians. We must never forget.
However, there was one ethnic group — today, the largest one in the world without a homeland — that was shunned by the Sykes-Picot Treaty: the Kurdish people.
But yesterday, a major non-binding referendum was taken by the Kurdish people, and the results are worth noting and discussing.
As reported by The Guardian, “Thousands of people in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq have cast votes in a referendum billed as a first step towards independence from Baghdad, defying regional demands that the ballot be abandoned and international fears that the outcome could spark violence.
As voting stations closed, more than 80 percent of registered voters had cast ballots in a poll that many felt went beyond the demands of Iraq’s Kurdish north to buttress the cause of Kurds across the region. Leaders in Erbil had tried to confine aspirations to within the Kurdish regional government’s current boundaries in Iraq. However, Iran, Turkey and Baghdad fear the ballot could provide momentum to restive Kurdish movements and potentially destabilize borders elsewhere in the region.
Iraq’s parliament on Monday debated a motion to send troops into disputed areas south of Kirkuk that were contentiously included in the referendum. In Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic oil city 60 miles south of Erbil, Kurdish areas were brimming with voters, many wearing celebratory clothes or traditional costume.
“This is better than [the Islamic festivals],” said Abdul Kareem Kakarash, 62, a blacksmith. “It is the best day of my life.” His relative Mala Rasul Mamish, 40, said: “I hope that the west will see this as a historic day, and not just the project of one political party. It is much more than that. So much of our blood has been spilled for being Kurds.”
I spent time in Kurdistan – Kirkuk to be exact — back in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I can attest that here we have an opportunity to positively affect a change in the Middle East.
During my time as a Member of Congress, I had several very insightful meetings with Kurdish Regional Government representatives. I will ask a simple question, if the world is so willing to create a doggone “Palestinian” state — which would be nothing but a safe haven for Islamic jihadists — why not support an independent Kurdistan?
Up front, I would make support to this initiative contingent on reigning in the separatist groups like the PKK and the YPG who have engaged in subversive and terrorist-like activities. As well, an independent Kurdistan MUST give all rights and privileges, such as land ownership, to minority Christian populations such as the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who have a far longer history in the region. Those are unmovable criteria for my full support of a Kurdistan.
Here are a people who are pro-Western who recognize and support Israel’s right to exist. They would form an incredible buttress against the spread of Islamic jihadism in the region and would counter the advances of Iran, Syria, and Turkey. And just so you know, Turkey, a NATO member, has gone outside the rules of the organization and purchased new surface-to-air missile systems from Russia. As well, Turkish President Erdogan has leaned more towards being an Islamist, throwing support to ISIS and other groups, like Hamas. Erdogan has threatened to shut off oil and gas valves and military action against the Kurds for just holding this vote. So where is our condemnation of him?
Why shouldn’t the Kurds be able to determine their future? And needless to say, Iran controls the goings on in Baghdad thanks to the withdrawal of the Obama administration from Iraq. The Iraqis have never been on fair terms with the Kurds, and with all of the U.S. support, aid, and arms that were flowing into Baghdad, somehow, it just never made it to the Kurdish region.
Having an independent Kurdistan will serve as a strong buttress against the hegemonic expansion of Iran, which is moving forward at a rapid pace. Iran has been very successful in creating a land bridge that takes them from Tehran, and the Persian Gulf, all the way to the Mediterranean and Syria.
And we must admit, having Iran freely operating in Syria with the help of their proxy Islamic jihadist army, Hezbollah, isn’t a winning proposition for the Middle East — certainly not for Israel.
If we want to stem the advance of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Islamic jihadism in the Middle East, here is a bold strategic way to do so. All it takes is for the Trump administration to take a stand, and begin advocating for this in the United Nations.
I mean if President Trump will sit with a known terrorist supporter like Mahmoud Abbas, then why not take a stand with the Kurdish people? If we can give a known tyrannical and brutal Marxist communist regime like the Castro’s a diplomatic mission in America, and open up an embassy in Havana, why not with the Kurds?
If the Kurdish people and their leadership are willing to function under the basic principles of individual liberty, freedom, secularism and democracy, why not them? Doggone, how much have we expended in Afghanistan over the past sixteen years only to still have the Taliban running around rampant there? Of course, that’s a problem of dealing with Pakistan — and exactly how many billions of dollars have we sent to Pakistan for them to jail the doctor who identified Osama bin Laden, and be the hot seat of Islamic jihadism and terrorist groups?
I’ve read where folks have said an independent Kurdistan would “destabilize” the Middle East. Well, hello McFly, the Middle East ain’t exactly the picture of stability now. And when I look at those decrying instability and how they’re against this, these are the exact players causing the most turmoil in the region.
Yes, it’s time, and if we could do the same for South Sudan — since the Islamists of Sudan were killing them — why not the Kurdish people? I will freely admit, I would go into a firefight with the Kurdish Peshmerga any day…when was the last time you heard of a Kurdish Soldier turning his weapon on an American? And again, how many billions have we expended in Afghanistan. What has been the return on investment there?
I just have to ask, who in the Trump administration disagrees with an independent Kurdish state?
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]