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What role for Western powers in Kurdish democratic agenda? December 17, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Kurdstan map


The Kurds have organized and risen to the point where it is impossible for Western powers to ignore them. As Kurdish aspirations rise, many regional powers would like to see a 21st century equivalent of the Treaty of Lausanne, sacrificing Kurdish interests to those of other regional powers. The Kurds, however, are more organized and more powerful than they have ever been. It is unlikely that they can be betrayed without consequence.

Still, it is essential that the Kurds not wait for a hand-out from the United States, European Union, or other entities. Western assistance is no substitute for Kurdish leaders getting their own house in order. The simple fact is that Kurds remain divided. In Iraqi Kurdistan, family interests trump nationalism. The Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga remain as divided today as they were a decade ago. Masoud Barzani, the de facto regional president, speaks of an independence referendum only when grumbling about economic mismanagement and unpaid salaries gets too great.

Turkey’s Kurdish organizations face a crisis given the information and military campaigns waged against them. Many Turkish Kurdish leaders assume that they stand on the side of justice and popular aspirations, but they have done little to bring that message to the non-Kurdish audience in the West.

Too many politically-active Kurds write for Kurdish websites or portals and debate with fellow Kurds in coffee shops and restaurants catering to a Kurdish clientele. They must write for the Washington Post, New York Times, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel, rather than for Kurdish outlets of which few congressmen, parliamentarians, or ministers have heard. Unfortunately, Kurdish leaders make little effort to reach out to the broader policymaking community whose decision-making may not be based upon a Kurdish consensus about social justice and morality. If Kurds want Western countries to offer support, they must first inform non-Kurdish audiences. If Kurds march under flags bearing the hammer-and-sickle, the symbol of an ideology that contributed to the deaths of tens of millions of people during the 20th century, they risk losing sympathy from mainstream officials in the West. Ditto any embrace of Che Guevara, a man responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocents. Simply put, Kurdish movements must decide whether they want to cultivate support only from the left, or from the right as well. Unless they win the support of both, Kurds will likely fail to achieve broad Western support for their political aims and national aspirations…. 

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