An Independent Kurdistan Needs to be a Liberal Democracy

The Kurds in both Iraq and Syria rule themselves and the only thing that is missing is the liberation of Iranian Kurdistan to create an independent Kurdish state in half of Kurdistan, something which is both realistic and feasible. There is no doubt that the Kurds of Iran would be the first to respond positively to a US imposition of a no-fly zone over Iran by rebelling with US air support against the tyrannical Khomeinist regime. A US no-fly zone over Iran will become necessary once Israel destroys the Iranian nuclear weapons program, something that should be anticipated in 2023. The alternative is a major Israeli attack against the Iranian nuclear weapons program every two years or so as a no-fly zone will allow the US to intermittently bomb facilities of the Iranian nuclear weapons program as they emerge and are rebuilt.

The Kurds have a unique opportunity in the coming years for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan in the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian sections of Kurdistan. There is however one major obstacle and that is the nepotistic dictatorship of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) in the KRI (Kurdistan Region of Iraq). The Kurdish-led AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) in contrast has a successful policy in place for the gradual feminist democratization and liberalization of society. The two ruling families (the Barzanis of the KDP and the Talabanis of the PUK) who control different regions of the KRI are not interested in democratization and liberalization and thus constitute a severe obstacle to the unification of Kurdistan.

The Israeli government on whose political support the KRG relies needs to explain to the KRG that their refusal to democratize is a severe obstacle to the creation of an independent Kurdistan in half of Kurdistan. Why would Syrian Kurdistan unite with Iraqi Kurdistan if the leadership of the KRG refuses to democratize? It is not entirely clear which political party that will rule Iranian Kurdistan once it is free from the control of the Khomeinist regime in Tehran, yet it is highly likely that it will be PJAK (Kurdistan Free Life Party), the Iranian sister organization of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Syrian Kurdistan. The Iranian Kurdish political parties are like the PYD clients of Israel and there is a serious risk that infighting between Iranian Kurdish political parties will jeopardize the establishment of an autonomous government in Iranian Kurdistan. 

Israel has significant influence over the Kurdish national movement outside of Turkey and should explain to its Kurdish allies that it is a vital Kurdish national interest to democratize the KRG or else the Kurds might miss a serious opportunity to establish Kurdish independence in half of Kurdistan. Israel needs to seriously pressure the KRG to embrace AANES-style feminist democratization and liberalization. Also, oil revenues will not last forever as the vehicle industry is transitioning from fossil fuel to electric vehicles and the KRG needs to prepare for a post-oil democratic future. The current dictatorial regime in the KRG is not conducive to foreign investments and the economy of the KRI is mostly based on the export of oil.

Israel has been aligned with the Kurdish national movement since 1958 with the goal of creating an independent Kurdistan in the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian sections of Kurdistan. The KRG needs to internalize that their kleptocratic dictatorship is not in the interest of Kurdish independence since the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian sections of Kurdistan will need to unite and the only basis for unification is AANES-style feminist democratization and liberalization. The KRG is highly reliant on Jewish lobbying in Washington as strongly encouraged by the government of Israel and it is unlikely that the KRG would even exist without the support of the US government. 

The KRG needs to internalize that Kurdish independence in the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian sections of Kurdistan is a national interest of both Israel and the United States and that the refusal of the KRG to embrace AANES-style feminist democratization and liberalization jeopardizes what is a unique opportunity in the coming years to create an independent Kurdistan in half of Kurdistan.

The process of democratization in the AANES is not based on merely holding free and fair elections, something which in and of itself is insufficient to instill democratic and liberal values in the population. Rather, the approach of the AANES is based upon democratizing and liberalizing society by empowering women and girls. This gradual approach has proven very successful and the AANES is well on its way to become a full-fledged liberal democracy. The KRG needs to understand that it is losing precious political time by failing to embrace AANES-style feminist democratization and liberalization. 

The creation of an independent Kurdistan in the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian sections of Kurdistan is fully dependent upon American support and domestic Jewish advocacy in the US is critical in persuading the US government that it is indeed an US national interest to establish a pro-American independent Kurdish state in half of Kurdistan. Jewish organizations in the US lobby for the triangular US-Israel-Kurdistan relationship and Israel needs to use its leverage in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah to convince the KRG that AANES-style feminist democratization and liberalization is not only an American and Israeli interest but a vital Kurdish national interest indeed.

An independent Kurdish state that is a liberal democracy will be able to establish its own special relationship with the United States and the US supports all democracies worldwide. The United States rightly considers it a key national interest to support democracies and the KRG leadership needs to pay attention to this very important and enduring aspect of US foreign policy.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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