Following the Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani's visit to Ankara Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed that his country wants a stable Kurdistan Region. Primarily because, as he knows, an unstable Kurdistan Region would likely be destabilizing for Turkey.
These comments were hardly surprising. Turkey and the Kurdistan Region have fostered quite cordial ties in recent years despite Turkey's continued aversion to Kurdish autonomy anywhere. It's interesting to think that in the course of just over ten years Ankara, under the very same Justice and Development (AKP) party, has gone from seeking to establish a buffer-zone inside the Kurdistan Region (aimed, like its long proposed buffer-zone in Northern Syria, limiting nascent Kurdish autonomy and stemming the flow of refugees fleeing conflict from going into Turkey) to more gradually seeing the Kurdistan Region itself as a buffer-zone from instability and the spread of dangerous terrorist groups. This change in perception and outlook in such a relatively short space of time is quite notable.
Underlying Davutoglu's remark are many realities which should be appreciated by outsiders. Not only is the Kurdistan Region a bulwark against ISIS for those around it: Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran, but it is also a small region which has endured enormous burdens which, if it didn't exist, its neighbours would have to.
Take the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for example: If it weren't for the Kurdistan Region Iraq and Turkey would likely have to take in those refugees. Which would mean up to another million for Turkey, a large country which has already spent billions just sustaining the large, mostly Syrian, refugee population it hosts on its soil. The Kurdistan Region on the other hand is a small land-locked entity which doesn't have control over all of its affairs yet is managing to shelter 1.8 million refugees. It also hosts the vast majority of the Syrian refugee population in Iraq. Quite something when you consider just 25 years ago many Kurds were made refugees themselves thanks to the criminal atrocities leveled against them.
Germany, which has been a good friend of the Kurdistan Region and a great help to them in their struggle against ISIS, has recently brokered a deal with Turkey to try to curb the refugee flow into Europe by providing Turkey with capital to help them continue to house that population on Turkish soil until they can eventually return home. It, and Turkey too -- and anyone else who can chip in and help out for that matter, should also do something similar for the Kurdistan Region in recognition that it hosts nearly as many IDPs (even though it is much smaller and has much less resources to do so than its much larger Turkish neighbour and on top of all that faces a much larger immediate threat from ISIS), many of whom are homeless and rely on basic aid and shelter to survive, who would otherwise add to the refugee population in Turkey and elsewhere. And also in recognition that it would be in their interests to do so, as it would help the Kurdistan Region do what Germany and others are already helping them do, defeat ISIS, which will require continued sustainable domestic stability in the Kurdistan Region. A country/polity, after all, cannot fight an effective protracted war for very long while things stagnate or go to rot at home.
For the Kurdistan Region to remain an effective buffer/bulwark for those around it, it needs the continued support from the world community to endure this extraordinarily large burden. Helping it do so is in the interests of those who want to avert an even larger humanitarian crisis and make a meaningful contribution to the destruction of ISIS.
Paul Iddon is an Erbil-based journalist and political writer who writes on Middle East affairs. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.