The Kurdish house
The Kurdish house in the Middle East is rather busy nowadays. Preparations for a new phase of political activism are under way in countries wherever Kurds live.
Iran: The rift between the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) is about to close after six years. In fact, the DPK is a splinter group of the KDPI.

Negotiations that began with a third-party intervention developed to the point of cooperation after just a few meetings. More meetings are planned to merge the two into a single organization. Indeed, it is awkward to have two "democratic" parties in Iranian Kurdistan.

Before a possible merger, the issue of a common name to be adopted has to be settled first. The KDPI demands that the DPK change its name before a possible merger because the former is the bearer of the tradition of the short-lived Kurdish Republic that was founded in 1945 in Mahabad in Azerbaijan. In any case, the process of unification has started. This means a stronger resistance against Tehran.

Syria: Finally, the two main Kurdish groups, namely the People's Council of Western Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council, which comprises a number of Syrian Kurdish parties, have agreed to join forces in a standoff with Islamist rebels in the northern towns of Syria. Of the existing Kurdish political parties in Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has close ties to Turkey's long-time enemy the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has been waging a fierce struggle against the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and allied Ghuraba al-Sham group. The fiercest battles among them have taken place in Ras al-Ayn, on the border with Turkey, opposite Ceylanpınar.

Now that Kurdish groups have joined forces, they have become a serious force to be reckoned with both militarily and politically. They will now be able to raise the stakes in the post-Assad bargaining period to gain administrative and economic autonomy (given the fact that there are oil fields in the region).

Rapprochement between Syrian Kurdish forces was mediated by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq in Arbil. This agreement further reinforced the dominant position of the PYD in the People's Council of Western Kurdistan.

The agreement among Syrian Kurds brokered by Arbil was necessitated by the hostile actions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces. The main rebel elements that have confronted the Kurds are the Al-Nusra Front, Ghuraba al-Sham and the Tawhid Brigade. Kurds do not want these unruly groups in their territory, accusing the Kurds of betraying the revolution and cooperating with Damascus. This is not altogether true, but it is correct that Kurds by and large have remained neutral and waited for the Assad regime to be brought down by other rebel groups.

There are roughly 2 million Kurds living in Syria, mostly in the north and northeastern parts of the country that border Turkey. So, any movement associated with the PKK and the aim of autonomy is perceived as a national security threat by Ankara.

Iraq: The KRG has been at odds with the federal government in Bagdad for some time. The Kurds have enjoyed the trust of the occupying Americans as their only ally in war. They benefited from this trust through sound autonomy and economic privileges concerning the exploitation of carbon resources in the Kurdish and adjacent territories. The Iraqi constitution provides for Arbil to get 17 percent of the oil and gas revenues. However, the KRG claims that it has benefitted from only a fraction of this amount. In return, the KRG began to give out exploration and exportation rights to foreign companies, to which Bagdad is categorically opposed. A strong Kurdish economy means confidence and sustainability that may pave the way to Kurdish independence.

Bagdad had agreed to hold a referendum on the fate of the disputed oil-rich areas bordering the Kurdish region, but it constantly postpones it, and Arbil believes that the majority of these areas are predominantly Kurdish. The annexation of these territories may strengthen the KRG and make it economically sustainable. The dispute between the KRG and the federal government in Baghdad escalated to the level of troop displacement and a military standoff between the forces of the central government and the KRG Peshmerga in these disputed territories. In short, the new Middle East will take shape with another actor on the stage, namely the Kurds.

DOĞU ERGİL (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-28 10:00:01
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