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The Kurds: Love for America is Not Enough - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani warned of an Arab – Kurdish war in the event of US withdrawal from Iraq prior to resolving the issue of the disputed territories. Particularly since the Iraqi Prime Minister [Nuri Al Maliki] has consolidated his internal political position, and believes that the 2005 constitution gives Iraqi provinces too much power, and is calling for this document to be amended.

Mr. Nechirvan said “We love the US and they don’t care.” Washington responded saying that it is not America’s responsibility to reassure any party, but that it is up to the Iraqi citizens to rely on the country’s democratic system to work out their differences. And so is the love of America enough to solve the problems of the Kurds in Iraq?

Of course not, since there isn’t any love or hatred in politics, only benefit. The problem of some Kurds is that they have an excessive sensitivity towards those who say that they should avoid conflict. For by all indications, the unsettled conflict between Al Maliki and the Kurds could erupt at any moment.

This is something we have said repeatedly, and which was met with anger, especially when we said that it was the duty of the Kurds to protect what they have gained, and pay attention to the realities in the region. The most important of these realities is that Al Maliki has organized his ranks, and moved away from weakening his opponents, and made alliances on the ground.

This is not in defense of Al Maliki, and many questions and doubts will continue to revolve around him so long as he does not begin a genuine reconciliation amongst the Iraqis, without making sectarian or other distinctions. Rather what we are saying is a description of [the current] reality.

The President of Iraq and the Iraqi Foreign Minister are both Kurds, and there have been well-known and real Kurdish gains on the ground following the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime. Proof of this is that the Kurds are calling for these gains to be protected, and expanded upon. However some Kurds continually respond; what are these gains? And here you can remember the worst [in the past]. [Whereas now] the Kurds were immediately able to reach a preliminary agreement with Tehran to halt the Iranian shelling of border villages in the Kurdish province of Iraq. And I do not think that the Kurds have forgotten their powerful neighbor Turkey, especially since one thing that both Ankara and Tehran benefit from is their mutual stance against the Kurds. And so if all of these risks are not cause for concern, then what will get through to the Iraqi Kurds?

And so if the Kurds have staked too much on Washington then they have made the same mistake as the Arabs who believe that Obama has come to say to them, your wish is my command, forgetting that Obama is motivated by the interests of his own country.

Is it in the interests of Washington today to stand with the Kurds against a broad spectrum of Iraqis? This leads to another question; what network of alliances have the Kurds formed inside Iraq, for the democratic system, like the tribal system, is based upon alliances or mutual interests.

Therefore it is up to the Kurds to codify their internal conflicts, especially in view of the most serious situation summed up by Mr. Nechirvan Barzani when he warned of an “Arab – Kurdish” war. This is provocative language which will lose the Kurds a lot of sympathy, both internally and externally.

Love in politics is the same as indiscriminate conflict; it does not achieve anything. Relying on America did not help many countries who failed to understand the game of [political] advantage. And so where does Washington’s advantage lie with the Kurds today, and where does Washington’s advantage lie in Iraq when looking at the bigger picture?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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