A woman waves the Kurdistan flag at a festival in Erbil in September. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
By Jared M. Hill
To my utter disappointment, the USA has yet to fully support and endorse Kurdish independence. The last I wrote, I expressed my support for an independent Kurdistan based on my personal knowledge and association with this amazing people. I will now lay out, to the best of my knowledge and understanding, why America must support Kurdish independence. My arguments are legal, moral, and strategic.
The legal case rests in the second paragraph of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution
. It states that the Iraqi government, by the year 2007, should have held a referendum in the disputed areas of Iraq so that the local population could determine their own status as part of the Kurdistan Region, or as part of another Iraqi governorate. This did not happen. Baghdad, earlier this year, agreed to reactivate Article 140
, but again failed to do so.
Subsequently, Erbil held in September of this year an independence referendum throughout all of Kurdistan. It could be argued that this was drastic. Maybe Erbil could have held a more narrow referendum only for the people in the Peshmerga-controlled disputed regions to determine if they wanted to be part of the Kurdistan Regional governorate. Yet, as Americans
, do we not know that “in the course of human events it [often becomes] necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” especially when the laws that bind them together in a duly ratified constitution have been expressly ignored.
Baghdad further hurt their legal grounds by using military force to suppress the voice of their people, especially by using foreign supported militias to carry out their dirty work. Is this not akin to using “foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny?” I could go on, but this shall suffice for the time being.
The moral case for Kurdistan rest upon many facets, but two for the purposes of this article shall suffice. First, when the world stood idly by and the very army that now suppresses the Kurds turned tail and ran from the battlefield, the Kurds stood up in the face of pure evil as perpetrated by ISIS. The Kurds rushed in to serve and protect where the Iraqi Army failed. The Peshmerga harbored, protected, and liberated ethnic and religious minorities. As such, the Kurds hold the moral high ground over Baghdad.
Second, the Kurds have long been America’s ally. They supported the US in Desert Storm and the Iraq War. They acted as our most effective ground force against ISIS in support of our political agenda in said proxy war. Some may argue against Kurdistan by saying that Ankara is our ally and Baghdad is our friend. To that, I say hogwash. When is the last time Ankara truly supported American interests? The government and its people have threatened and called for the end of our long term agreement to use Incirlik Airbase. Is that what allies do? As for Baghdad, are they not simply an Iranian puppet regime?
The just cause for America is to stand with the Kurds, our true friends, upon that moral high ground that they seized when frightening the black flagged scourge of ISIS.
The strategic case is simple. The US needs a true partner in the region outside of Israel, for her hands are tied politically. A free and independent Kurdistan can be just that. It can act as a bulwark to the spread of Iranian power in the region. Furthermore, with the Turkish threat to close Incirlik, could that not open up an invitation from Erbil providing yet another check on Iran’s power grab in the region? I would say so.
Jared M. Hill was a Transportation Captain in the US Army. He served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and received a Bronze Star for his service. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Sam Houston State University. He currently serves as the chairperson for his local County Historical Commission and lives and works in Texas.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.