The most obvious lesson that could be derived from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) crisis with Turkey is that there is no protection offered to those who want to secede from the motherland. Whoever seeks protection must converge under the state’s ‘umbrella’.
This should induce the Kurdistan region to make serious and deep reconsiderations before the forthcoming Kirkuk referendum or the impending Kirkuk battle. This is especially so today since, as some would say, Baghdad stands in the line of fire in its defense of the Kurds and the Iraqi territory.
The most striking element that can be drawn from this crisis is that those who support separatists today turn against them tomorrow. This can be exemplified by the PKK’s fate; after being supported by Syria, Damascus has now decided to side with Ankara.
States that back separatists in the Arab world (the most prominent example of which are Iran and Syria) deal with groups that operate on creating internal divisions within Arab states, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, the latter of which has ended up under a Syrian-Iranian mantle. These states are involved in a high-stakes game of cards and their tactics are used as tools to achieve goals rather than offer support that is based on the belief in rights and principles.
In his interview with the BBC, Syrian President Bashar al Assad calmly and confidently stated that if issues were resolved, there would be no problems with Hezbollah and Hamas and others. Of course, the Syrian leader is referring to the issues that concern him, not the Arab world, or else we would not have been witnessing the events unfolding in Lebanon today.
What Iran is doing in Iraq, for example, is not out of a belief in the rights of a particular segment of Iraqi society over another; but rather, it is to consolidate a negotiating position and is out of a desire for leadership and domination. Iraq and the pro-Iran parties in Baghdad will be put to use in the critical moments of the showdown between Tehran and Washington.
The situation is the same in present-day Lebanon, the Syrians are doing everything they can to seize control of Lebanon, and Iran backs them on this so that they may both consolidate their position in the region. This is achieved through Hezbollah and other breakaway factions that have split from their groups. General Aoun, a man once held under siege by the Syrian forces in the 1990s has now become an important Syrian ally!
General Aoun will end up an expendable play card, nothing more and nothing less, much like Hezbollah that is preparing for one of Syria’s biggest battles Tehran’s battle with the US. However, the general is under intense pressure from Syria today despite appearing to be a Damascus ally. Al Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah is aware that the arms and funding pass via Damascus, which is why he is forced to side with the Syrian camp.
Fortunately for Iran and Syria, their opponents do not seek to fight with them in the same manner employed in Iraq and Lebanon, or that which is used between fellow Palestinians. Otherwise, the situation would have been extremely bad in both Iran and Syria internally since there are countless issues that if simply mobilized would reveal the huge price in return.
All the evidence and indications in the history of our regional crises proves that there is no room for separatists and that their ally today will be their enemy tomorrow, either due to a change in leadership or by waving a carrot here or a stick there.
It remains to be said that the biggest guarantee in resolving internal problems does not depend on pouncing on them or by seeking the help of external parties.