Kurds cry betrayal as Trump withdraws support
Should Kurdistan be an independent country? Donald Trump’s abrupt cave-in yesterday, pulling support from the USA’s old allies in the fight against ISIS, has left 45 million people at risk.
“We have been waiting 100 years for this day,” said one of the millions of Kurds who voted in a historic independence referendum in 2017. Almost 93 per cent of those who took part voted in favour of having their own country.
The Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland. Most of the population is split between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Since 1991, they have governed an autonomous region in Iraq, where that referendum was held, and where an independent Kurdistan might arise.
When Donald Trump withdrew US support yesterday after a telephone call with the Turkish president, there was an immediate barrage of opposition from his own party. “The president’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal,” said one leading Republican.
For the Kurds, this decision to permit Turkey to invade marked the latest in a long history of betrayals by the international community.
There are 45 million Kurds in the world: if they were a nation, they would have bigger a population than many other countries.
This inequality is down to history. After the World War One, the Kurds were promised independence. But in 1923, Western powers drew the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Syria straight through Kurdish lands.
Should the Kurds have their own country?
Divide and rule
“Independence is the solution,” argue some. The old imperial masters, who cheated the Kurds out of a homeland, are no more. Justice will only come if their historic wrong is righted, and Kurdistan becomes independent.
“This is a dangerous idea,” others respond. The Middle East is in chaos, and Kurdish nationalism will make the whole region more unstable.
- Should Kurdistan be an independent country?
- Imagine that you had the power to invent a new country. Where would it be in the world? What laws would it have? What would its flag look like?
Some People Say...
“Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty.”Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), Vietnamese revolutionary
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The 2017 referendum was open to those who currently live in the three states which comprise Southern Kurdistan. This means that around 5.2m Kurds were eligible to vote. The vote was non-binding and did not guarantee independence from Iraq, which branded it illegal.
- What do we not know?
- We do not know if Kurdistan will ever become independent, or how many Kurds would return to Kurdistan if it does.
- Autonomous region
- South Kurdistan has its own military and parliament. Whilst its government has control over domestic issues in the region, Iraq remains in charge of international policy.
- The borders were agreed as part of the Treaty of Lausanne, signed by France, Britain, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania and Turkey. It established the borders of modern-day Turkey.