October 12, 2017

IT HAS FOR A LONG TIME: Kurdistan Deserves U.S. Support. Here Is Why.

Francis Rooney:

Asserting that an independent Kurdistan would impede efforts to defeat radical Islam depreciates the Kurds’ current contributions to that very cause and seems to excessively defer to the Iraqi government. A strong and independent Kurdistan might actually strengthen our efforts by reinforcing the role of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighting force, as a full-fledged participant in the coalition opposing the Islamic State.

In a similar vein, the Kurds might help reconcile Islam with 21st Century values. Contrary to what we see throughout much of the Middle East, Kurds have promoted a secular brand of Islam in which church is separated from state and many different religions flourish. Drawing Muslims into a tolerant and secular interpretation of the Koran is a critical element in reducing radicalization and Islam-inspired violence. Pope Benedict XVI launched this argument in his well-known address at Regensburg in 2006, where he stressed the need for a modern construction of Islam that can peacefully and tolerantly co-exist with the rest of the world.

Furthermore, an independent Kurdistan would establish another countering force to Iran’s quest for hegemony in the Middle East. An independent Kurdistan securely aligned with the United States would undermine, or at least influence, the Shiite nexus Iran has created among Hezbollah, the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Iraq, and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.

More than that, even a rump Kurdistan carved out of just northern Iraq (and perhaps also northeastern Syria) would be a thorn in Recep Erdogan’s side and a potentially existential threat to the Mullah’s regime in Iran.