Monthly political analysis on nations in
economic or political transition
Four years ago, in September 2008, we published an introductory article on these rather mysterious people The Kurds, whose origins are Indo–European. They are numerous, some thirty millions. They have survived so long perhaps because circumstances have dictated that they are a mountain people. They are spread as a minority across four 21st century nations, of which the Iraqi and Syrian republics are relatively modern constructs, whilst Iran and Turkey are ancient nations. The question that looms over any such assessments as this, is could those four nations in this place become five?
There is no question that even in the four years since our previous brief study, things have moved on, the Syrian civil war potentially being a game changer. In Iraq, the Kurdish region is a restless yet heavyweight player in the prospects of that nation, partly because, as a great boost to its regional economy, it has its own exploitable reserves of oil already being marketed; partly because it is apart from the bitter Sunni-Shia divide in Iraq. If, following their invasion, the American decision makers had opted for a federal Iraq to succeed Saddam’s Baathist republic, then an independent Kurdistan would by now probably have become a reality. In Iran the Kurds there watch and wait, but the one previous attempt, in 1946, to form an independent republic, Mahabad, was suppressed by the Shah’s forces within a year. Alessandro Bruno, our regular MENA contributor, has assessed the current situation addressing the prospects for greater self-rule, or even eventual independence.