Thursday, January 17, 2008

The New Iraqi Flag


The recent development in Iraqi parliamentary hell was the second major attempt to pass up a change for the Iraqi flag an national anthem, after the major failure of the 2004 attempt. As suspected, the instigators of this move is yet again, our lovely northern brothers, the Kurds. As a minor compromise solution, an interim design will be approved until a final decision will be made on the final flag and the new national anthem a year later, details are still hazy, and numerous suggested interim flags have appeared on the net, but most prominently the one that only changes the phrase "Allah Akbar" to yellow, the traditional color of the Kurds.

When the new 2004 flag was presented, like many other people, the flag felt strangely alien and removed from me, it boldly dispensed with the traditional Pan-Arab colors (red, green, white, black) which compose most Arab flags, to add insult to injury, it employed a palette that bore a close resemblance:



Same as many other people, I did not understand why a need to change the flag was even necessary ; it never struck me as a symbol for anything but Iraq alone, and it was also a damn good flag.
But then I read the history of the Iraqi flag, it is apparently the most unstable flag of the Arab world, changing for four times, and each time, the change coincided with the installation of a new, radically different political system. It started in 1921 with the traditional Arab revolution Hashemite flag, only different from Jordan's by one star, through Qassim's communist period (some people still use this flag in forums), into the traditional horizontal-stripes red-white-black Pan-Arab flag adorned by the Ba'ath party.
With the realization that the Iraqi flag is not a sacred symbol as I expected it to be, I rationally concluded that, in order to entirely proclaim the beginning of a new chapter, then a new flag reflecting that change in Iraq must also be set in order. I must say however, that this change got as far as my brain, my heart was still beating auricle and ventricle under the banner of the old flag, and it's really hard to come up with a flag that can express Iraq as part of its Arab universe but still indicate the supposedly "bright change" that is to come.

And then I began to consider other factors:

1. the only people who are actively seeking the retirement of the old flag and who hate it with all its gut are, unsurprisingly, the secessionist-dreaming Kurds, who are still dreaming their little chauvinistic Pan-Kurdish pipe dreams while we the Arabs, the ones who messed around with those Pan things and failed a century before them can now enjoy this black comedy as they follow exactly the footsteps of our miserable fuck-ups, worse yet, they can't seem to even find the first step.

2. The majority of Iraq, even the Shias, who have suffered intolerably under Saddam's Iron Moustache, do not look upon the flag as an extension of that hateful persona. Why? Because, slowly and surely, the realization began to form in my mind, that this flag represents Iraq. After all, this is not a Baathist flag ; it is an ARAB flag, more precisely, it is a Pan-Arab flag: Egypt and Yemen, both non-Baathist countries, bear the same design.

3. The nation-state of Iraq is only 75 years old, it has no traditional flags it can revert to (like Germany and Russia did after the collapse of Nazism and the USSR respectively) except the Pan-Arab revolution flag which is based on traditional Arab-Islamic flags, our current flag also holds the same colors, except it's much more kick-ass.

4. Building on point number 3, and taking into consideration that the current flag has been used for 40 years, more than the period any other flag had been used (the runner-up Hashemite flag was used for 25 years), this flag can be considered to have seeped comfortably into the public consciousness to attain a rightful claim to a flag that everybody agrees upon as representative of Iraq alone.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, Any flag, regardless of how beautiful or reflective it is, born under those miserable circumstances Iraq is passing through, will be first and foremost a representation of those conditions before anything else, and thus will be reviled, detached and despised by the very people it is supposed to rally.



Hence we conclude that this flag is a valid foundation upon which only minor additions may suffice for a change, if at all.

And also we conclude that the only reasons by which a person can diligently hate this flag beyond reason, like our brothers the Kurds do, is

1. your absolute intolerance of Arabism or Iraqism.
2. Your indifference to how much problems the change of the flag would cause because you are all you care about is your own little mountainous kingdom *hint hint*
3. The only patriotic pretext for hating this flag would be your legal right to hate Pan-Arabist movements, one of which was the Ba'ath Party. BUT this is negated by #4 above.

That and that alone. Of course, the Kurds have the right to determine their destiny, but if they wish to remain part of Iraq, they must tolerate its holiest icon, okay, let us be the generous ones here, we already know that you Kakas hate Iraq, but since our envisioning for a new, better chapter of Iraq would be a better representation of its more overlooked constituents, we might tolerate a reflection of your 17% presence on the flag, but not, of course, in the center, what do you think this is? I think a better idea is to put you as footnotes, or margins, like this:




The Iraqi parliament is holding a competition to choose the new flag, but did they ever consider a referendum to see if people wanted to change the flag?! maybe I should submit my brilliance...
This website (Arabic) contains many submissions for a new Iraqi flag from all over the world, they range from crayon crazy to helplessly romantic (Doves and hearts?! What is this, Snow White?), click the links to the left of the website to see them.
One of the interesting symbols I've seen in that site is the 'Babylonian Sun', this might be a good thing to put instead of the three stars, a remnant of the days Iraq was the potential '3rd state' to join the United Arab Republic after Egypt and Syria (afterwards, their meaning was changed to the Ba'ath Party slogan: Unity, Freedom and Socialism.)




Look a bit too much like Egypt, but then again they all look alike, when I was in Syria I kept thinking why the hell are they hoisting our flag everywhere?!

All in all, the issue is quite preposterous, and is only raised up because our BROTHERS (aargh) the Kurds, want to show us how strong they've become, quite indifferent to the hellhole all of Iraq has become, so as Shalash al-Iraqi said to Mes'ood Barazani the day he lowered the Iraqi flag from Kurdish soils: If you don't see us from your high mountains, then we don't see you as well.

115 comments:

programmer craig said...

Hi Kid,

I think you identified the reason why the Kurds don't like the flag, yourself:

it is an ARAB flag, more precisely, it is a Pan-Arab flag

The Kurds are (obviously) not Arabs. Why does it surprise you that they don't want to be represented by such an obviously "Pan-Arab" flag? The Kurds are not part of that whole Pan-Arab thing.

I disagree with you that the Kurds are involved in a Pan-Kurdish movement as well. They want a homeland. One nation. One people. They already HAVE a Pan-Kurdish identity (one people spanning multiple nations), and they don't like it. My understanding is that the Kurds want their historical homeland restored to them. Which includes parts of Iraq, Turkey and Iran. I could be wrong, but that's what I've heard from a lot of Kurds.

programmer craig said...

By the way, that flag with the sun looks like a good compromise.

http://kurd.us/flag/index.html

It looks like a hybrid between the "national" kurdish flag, and the existing flag of Iraq.

From that website:

The primary Kurdish characteristic of the flag is the golden sun emblem at the center. The sun emblem has a religious and cultural history among the Kurds, stretching into antiquity. The sun disk of the emblem has 21 rays, equal in size and shape. The number 21 holds a primary importance in the native Yazdani religious tradition of the Kurds.

I think the sun was the symbol of the Zoroastrians, wasn't it? That should be acceptable to anyone in the region of Mesopotamia I would think, since the region was entirely Zoroastrian in ancient times.

The symbol of fire: The energy of the creator is represented in Zoroastrianism by fire and the sun which are both enduring, radiant, pure and life sustaining. Zoroastrians usually pray in front of some form of fire (or any source of light). (It is important to note that fire is not worshipped by Zoroastrians, but is used simply as symbol and a point of focus, much like the crucifix in Christianity. For details, see Fire temple)

RhusLancia said...

I like your stripes, Kid, but what's wrong with the yellow Kufi script? that seems minor enough to me.

As for that 2004 abortion, even I dropped my jaw at it at first sight (and all subsequent- why did they color-match you-know-where?!?!).

Michomeme said...

مو هو بقى بس العلم يحتاج يتغيير، لان تعرف الظروف صارت زينة وكلشي صار مثل ما نريده واحسن، والامان والراحة كلها متوفرة، بس بقى العلم هو اخر شي يغيروه حتى العراق يصير بيرفيكت، والله لو يخلون العلم نفسه وما يغيروه هواية احسن، وهو يمثل العراق كله من شماله لجنوبة، لا عرب لا اكراد لا سنة ولا شيعة، للعراق وبس..

Jeffrey said...

Kid,

Ali Fadhil, from ITM, actually designed his own new Iraq flag back in May, 2004.

I FOUND IT!

Scroll down the blog entry just a bit and you'll see his NEW IRAQI FLAG.

Interesting design, I'd say.

*

Iraqi Mojo said...

Why would the Kurds want to fly a flag that does not represent them one bit??

I like the Babylonian sun.

Jeffrey said...

Amazing.

For Kid, it seems, Pan-Arabism is still alive and well. Exile-Iraqi argues that the lack of progress in the Middle East can be attributed precisely to the deadly effects of Pan-Arabism.

*

Glory Rose! said...

First, I think that a flag is what it means to the people! If you walk in the streets and ask Iraqis what this flag means to them, none would say Saddam Hussein nor Pan-Arabism! It simply means Iraq, so leave it the way it basically is, it's not doing "anyone" any harm!

But even if there are some changes to be made, which can not be but minor, I don't think this is the time nor this messed up parliament/government are the suitable people for changing it!

A change in a flag indicates a change in reality! So maybe the most suitable thing is turning it black! It's how I see the situation now anyway!

Anonymous said...

Does the American flag represent African Americans? Does it represent Hispanics? What about Native Americans? Asian Americans? Arab Americans? Muslims? Mormons? Jews? Etc.?

A flag represents a nation in all its components, it is not meant to represent each and every ethnicity and sect in it. If we satisfy the Kurds, what about the Turkmen? Assyrians? Chaldeans? Sabaeans? Don't they deserve their own colors, stripes on the Iraqi flag. It's true that the flag was originally conceived as a pan-Arab flag but it has since been accepted as a national symbol by all Iraqis, sans the two Kurdish warlords (I rarely see other Kurds complaining).

The Kurds just like to look for melon seeds in shit, as the Iraqi saying goes. I'm all for them having their own country and leaving us out of their constant bickering. Good luck for them fighting it off with Turkey and Iran after that. And we'll see who the US will side with then.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Interesting post, Kid.

I agree with some of the earlier commenters. I like the sun too. Hmmm...I think use the first flag you drew with the wider bordered stripes in it and add the sun in the middle instead of the stars and other characters. And keep the green, black, yellow etc. color scheme you used. Very attractive. :)

And actually, I can think of a good reason to change the flag, Kid. (Probably a very American one.) It will keep the flag production companies busy. ;)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Ooops, forgot to mention one thing.

Our flag has went through a number of incarnations. Every time we added a state, it changed. :)

Konfused Kid said...

To Jeffrey, Iraqi Mojo and everyone:

Yes, the Kurds have the right to choose their own state, they HAVE their own flag anyway, but so far they are part of the country called Iraq, and thus they must acknolwedge its symbol. This flag, as evidenced by what Shias think about it, is not a Saddamist flag, it is an Arab one, so yes, the Kurds have the right to object to it, hence, my additions (yellow stripes, babylonian sun, etc...)

Pan-Arabism is clearly dead and dying, but this flag, as I said, has spent quite a good time on the flagpole so that we might consider to have escaped its attachment with anything but the country called iraq itself.

and yes, an important thing to note is that NOW is not the time ever to replace the flag, if anything, like glory rose here suggested, we might as well turn it black.

programmer craig said...

Anonymous 1:20,

Does the American flag represent African Americans? Does it represent Hispanics? What about Native Americans? Asian Americans? Arab Americans? Muslims? Mormons? Jews? Etc.?

Yes.

A flag represents a nation in all its components, it is not meant to represent each and every ethnicity and sect in it.

Exactly. Which is why it's understandable that non-Arabs would object to a flag that represents ARAB unity.

You used the American flag as an example. That's fine. It's a good one. What does the US flag represent? It has 13 stripes for the first 13 states - the 13 British coloinies that rebelled against Britain. It has 50 stars, 1 star for each state. The number of stars has always been the same as the number of states. The 49th and 50th star were added most recently, when Hawaii and Alaska joined the union. The colors, red white and blue, are the colors of the flag of Great Britain, and represent America's origin as British colonies.

There's nothing in the US flag that promotes one group over another, or that excludes any group. In that way, it can be said to represent all Americans equally.

programmer craig said...

Kid,

and yes, an important thing to note is that NOW is not the time ever to replace the flag, if anything, like glory rose here suggested, we might as well turn it black.

Yep. And it's nobodies business but Iraqis, anyway. It seemed like you were soliciting opinions, that's the only reason most of us spoke up, I bet. By all means, you guys should do whatever is best for Iraq.

btw anonymous,

Good luck for them fighting it off with Turkey and Iran after that. And we'll see who the US will side with then.

The US would side with the Kurds if that happens. In case you were wondering :)

Anonymous said...

The colors, red white and blue, are the colors of the flag of Great Britain, and represent America's origin as British colonies.

There's nothing in the US flag that promotes one group over another, or that excludes any group. In that way, it can be said to represent all Americans equally.


Do African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, Asians, etc., have any connection to the British colonies? Why should they accept a flag that reminds them of America's Anglo-Saxon heritage? Don't minorities make up to 40% of the population (much more than the Kurds in Iraq)?

Don't be a hypocrite. Using your same reasoning, we can say that the red, green and black of the Iraqi flag represent Iraq's origin and identity as an ARAB nation. Kurds can scream all they want. The Arabs and other communities of Iraq (85% of the population) will not allow anyone to change their flag, which they have rallied under for 45 years.

pan-fried-Arab said...

Why do the Turds feel they have the right to change our flag? They don't consider themselves part of Iraq anyway. The Turds have always been a thorn in the side of the Iraqi nation since its foundation.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I don't blame the Kurds for wanting to secede.

Konfused Kid said...

Nobody blames them. But until then, they must abide the pain.

madtom said...

"1. your absolute intolerance of Arabism or Iraqism.""

There's that word again.

Funny how the Kurds are expected to be part of an Arab entity within "Iraq", but Arabs, have no compulsion to think of "Iraq", as part Kurd.

Kid's got more loyalties with the greater Arab world, than with the Kurds, "his brothers", that actually make up a large sector, 17%*, of the people in Iraq. better know to Kid as, the " footnotes, or margins,".

Welcome to Iraq.

programmer craig said...

Don't be a hypocrite. Using your same reasoning, we can say that the red, green and black of the Iraqi flag represent Iraq's origin and identity as an ARAB nation.

But, that isn't Iraq's origin, anonymous. Iraq is built on what is arguably the oldest civilization in the world. 6000 years of civilization there? "Arabs" have been around how long? 1400 years? And if you want to argue about the origin of the place called "Iraq" - Iraq was also a British colony when it was mandated, wasn't it? I don't think your comparison is relevant. I think a symbol from ancient Babylon is a better representation of Iraq's true origins, than Nassir's Pan-Arabism of 50 years ago. A national flag should represent something that all citizens can take pride in. Is Pan-Arabism something most Iraqis are proud of? If your answer is yes, then by all means stick with what you have. No skin off my nose, as we Americans like to say :)

Anonymous said...

Pan-Arabism predates Nasir, you idiot.

Iraq is at least 80% Arab today, so scream as much as you want, along with your Turds.

Konfused Kid said...

Kurds were never too eager to be Iraqi in the first place, they were backstabbed like a whole slew of others by the Great Powers. They cannot afford to declare it a country just yet because the largest Kurdish population lies in Turkey, Syria and Iran also have Kurds, and soon all hell would break loose and I don't think America like the Kurd so much to support them all the way against everybody else. So they're stuck with Iraq for the moment, and yes, I acknowledge their presence and that's why I've toyed up with the yellow stripes in our flag. Besides, the guys have their own flag and they carry it all over the ir territories, isn't that enough humilitaion for a 'single, unified Iraq'?

Anonymous said...

Yes, and people here are speaking as if the Turds are just going to drop their flag and replace it with whatever new, ridiculous Iraqi flag they come up with.

We keep our flag and you keep yours, thank you.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Kid,

Here is an overview of the history of the American flag. It's long and I realize you may not really be interested in reading it all. But the reason I post it is simply to show that even something seemingly as simple as deciding on a flag, can be a long and convoluted process, when you have so many people who want their ideas incorporated in it. That is the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy. Everyone has a say in a democracy. Or should have. And not everyone will get exactly what they want. Flexibility and the ability to compromise are important for it to succeed. I rather like the debate about the flag Iraq is having. And if you do look at that article about our flag, you may find some similarities. ;)

programmer craig said...

Pan-Arabism predates Nasir, you idiot.

No, it doesn't, anonymous. Arab unity was a reality, not a movement, during the Arab Caliphates. And there was no Arab unity (either in fact or in philosophy) between the last Arab caliphate - which was a LONG time ago - and independence/Nassir.

If you're the same person who calls Kurds "Turds" (which you probably are, since you thought it was funny to call me an idiot for no apparent reason) then I'm done trying to discuss with you. Crack a few books. Read a little bit about your own history. I did, and I'm not even an Arab.

nadia n said...

I'm glad everybody still has their priorities straight. By that I mean taking the oppourtunity to push through changes that would piss everybody off for no reason while the country's in turmoil.

But seriously, that's almost African colours. just change the whole white part yellow and merge with the black panthers. Best idea ever? Yes, I think so.

nadia n said...

I don't think it's funny at all that you have no idea what you're talking about, craig, yet still are arrogant enough to tell people about their own history. And no I never posted anonymously, here or elsewhere.

programmer craig said...

I don't think it's funny at all that you have no idea what you're talking about, craig

That's never stopped anyone from shooting their mouth off, has it? Not even Iraqis, eh?

yet still are arrogant enough to tell people about their own history.

Why shouldn't I? Somebody has to. And I wish I had a dollar fro every time I've seen somebody who has never even set foot in the United States, lecture Americans about their own country and their own history. Even Iraqis.

And no I never posted anonymously, here or elsewhere.

Never said you did. I recall having an e-mail discussion with you about something or other a couple years ago. You don't seem like a bad sort, to me.

If you think I don't know what I'm talking about, correct me. I won't object, unless the things you say are untrue.

programmer craig said...

Anonymous (again)

Iraq is at least 80% Arab today, so scream as much as you want, along with your Turds.

You make a big deal out of the fact that Kurds are only ~17% of the population, so they should just roll over and take it. You realize that Sunni Arabs are only ~20% of the population, right? Should Sunni Arabs also roll over and take it?

Doesn't seem like a healthy attitude, to me. Should the Shia Arabs make all the rules, and Iraqs two largest minority groups (Kurds and Sunni Arabs) just be forced to go along with it, because they are minorities? Or do you apply this thinking only to Kurds?

programmer craig said...

How about something like this, then, anonymous?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Flag_of_Iran.svg

Just replace the green with black, and it's an Iraqi flag is it not? No? What if the majority say that it is?

Or how about this one?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Lionflag.svg

Screw that "Babylonian Sun", how about a Persian Lion? Why should anyone have to compromise, when the mob can simply rule?

Jeffrey said...

P. Craig,

You make a big deal out of the fact that Kurds are only ~17% of the population, so they should just roll over and take it. You realize that Sunni Arabs are only ~20% of the population, right? Should Sunni Arabs also roll over and take it?

Doesn't seem like a healthy attitude, to me. Should the Shia Arabs make all the rules, and Iraqs two largest minority groups (Kurds and Sunni Arabs) just be forced to go along with it, because they are minorities? Or do you apply this thinking only to Kurds?


Nicely done. Now THAT's cooking with logic. I wonder how long it will take before the first Sunni-Arab Iraqi comes on here screaming bloody murder at having to face this inconvenient truth you've just highlighted.

Let the games begin.

*

chamblee54 said...

1- Kid, thanks for a great post. You should do more of these.
2- The question is not how much of the population is Kurdish, but what percentage of the oil is in Kurdistan.
3- Craig, I wouldn't be so sure about the US backing the Kurds in a war with Turkey. Turkey is a NATO member and a longstanding ally of this country. Of course, they are the hated rivals of the Greeks. I guess it depends on who can bribe the most congressmen.
4- I live in Georgia, USA. We have our own flag problems. These can be very divisive, and serve as a handy distraction for theiving politicians. I suggest selling ad space on the new flag.

programmer craig said...

Thanks, Jeffrey :)

I'm actually hoping that people will just think about it a bit, though. I'm not trying to start a sectarian flame war on the Kid's blog. If changing Iraq's flag at this point in time is going to cause more problems for Iraqis, I think they should just leave it be.

chamblee54,

Craig, I wouldn't be so sure about the US backing the Kurds in a war with Turkey.

I'm fairly certain of it, and I'm usually pretty good at predicting these things.

Turkey is a NATO member and a longstanding ally of this country.

There are a lot of nations who joined NATO who aren't allies of the US in any way, shape or form. It seems to me that the one time we did try to invoke our alliance with Turkey, they left us hanging. Maybe if I did some research on it I could come up with some examples of Turkey helping us out, but would those examples all be cases where Turkey expected to get and/or actually did get something in return? Or where the US was doing something that was in Turkey's best interests, anyway? That wouldn't make them any better an ally than Saudi Arabia or Egypt, would it?

The Kurds have stuck with us in a very difficult time, these last several years. I don't think that will be forgotten.

Of course, they are the hated rivals of the Greeks. I guess it depends on who can bribe the most congressmen.

I'd venture a guess that it depends more on who is in the White House. Foreign Policy decisions are made by the President, as are decisions on the deployment of US troops. The President could easily deploy US forces into Kurdish areas on his/her own authority, and present Congress with a done deal that they get to approve or spend the next couple of years whining and crying about, right? That's exactly how we got involved in the Vietnam War and Korea War. And Panama. And Nicaragua. And etc.

Or, the President could do nothing but make a speech at the UN.

Aram said...

programmer craig,
i think you should just allow these people because im as a kurd, i know and have met lods of Arab people with no difference if he/she is from iraq or algeria....all they care is the United Arab pan blahblah.... and dont want us to have a state like everyone else or their beloved (Palestine) while they all know from the dippiest of their heart including the kid that we are totally different and shouldnt be iraqi, iranian, tukish or syrian... we have different culture, history, language....etc and been living in our place for 1000 of years and been divided for no reason by the english and french while our kurdish leader at that time was just a foolish and asshole, nothing else. but the problem is our God damn land is so rich and that costed us all our life's and it will....

about the turks we are not afraid of them coz we been through alot with them and others!!! we know that they dont want us with a country as their PM said once that we dont accept a kurdish government even its in Argentina!!! but who cares(they didnt accept greece, armenia, cyprus....etc) if its in their hand or acceptance they want all middle east including the countries of these arabs as most of them see turkey as a hero since turks dont like the kurds, but the screwed truth is, they hate the arbas and every human being more then us.

about the flag all the kurds 100% we dont want the iraqi flag and have NEVER recognized it as our homeland's flag and wont.... but the politicians have no any choices and they have every right to discuss about it since the kid ( very kind of him) thinks we only 17% ,lol, and some others thinks we have no right to say anything becose we are only 17% and thats is it. by the way if this is their democracy and freedom for the non arab people, how Israel could trust them!!!!jezzz

not having forget that the central government have never listened to the kurds but now they have no any other options since there is an ARab kindda meeting in Hawler and dont want to get embarrassed on the front of their Arab brothers and the world with no iraqi flag in Hawler. Mr. Barzani decided not to raise irqai flags in kurdistan and every individual kurds were agree with that (well done Barzani). and he has been trying to talk to the central gov since 2004 to change the flag but never got replied till now for the apparent reason above!!

finally if i see the flag tomorrow in our territories, i dont really care, and look at it as a foreign or careless flag, it represents neither me or my home land (kurdistan).

PS thx for your kindness towards the kurd, we need honest people like you..

Konfused Kid said...

Welcome here Aram, it's great to finally see someone of the concerned parties to give us his opinions for a change.

First, as I said, nobody here thinks (well, me) don't think you guys shouldn't have your own state, you have your own traditions, language, etc like you said and that clearly entitles you to struggle for your own independence.
So of course you don't want to be Iraqi, and you don't care much for Iraq or anything it ever represented (although Hawar Mulla Mohammed thinks otherwise, why?), but the matter at hand is one of compromise ; it's too hard for you guys to declare your own state right now, don't tell me look what we've accomplished ; the only reason you guys are all so pumped up and high right now is because America decided to do it for its own interests, and you know better than me that America hasn't got a care in the world for anything but its own, it will not to choose to support your cause against a very supportive ally (esp. to Israel) like Turkey.
So you're stuck with us for the moment, and we're stuck with you, so it's better to make the most out of this catholic-marriage-until-federalism-do-us-part situation and try to respect one another for the time being. I have no problems if you guys want to be part of Iraq, and this is why I tried to rework the compromise yellow color in the Iraqi flag ; even though you don't want it anyway, but you still deserve it as a 17% part of Iraq (like it or not, aroomi, it's internationally-recognized official statistics) and anyway guys, you have your own flag, isn't that enough?

The majority of Kurds are simple people, I have several friends in Kurdistan right now and they say the Kurds are very friendly people. The way I see it, history repeats itself, Iraq is heading in the disappointment of Mulla-theocracy just like you guys will soon be headed into Arab-style Nationalist Dictatorship if ever you managed to declare your state in the first place.

Aram said...

well about hawar mullah, i look at him as Not a kurd at all coz the guy cant even speak kurdish properly and my best friend here who raised in baghdad thinks the same like him, but thats what they belief!! but going to the kurdish areas and ask we all have a simple answer and they all like my...

We have not formally asked for any independence yet, all they ask (politicians) which i and most of the kurds dont really care weather iraqi flag is getting changed or not coz its ur symbol and flag, the whole hassle is to some change in the flag!!!!
we are indeed STACK with u guys and respect u the way u do, and personally i dont believe in Americans ally at all but there is more likely they might need us more than before and Turkey is the place and people who hates everyone in the planet except themselves, i dont think they could cope that way, as we all see they are under EU pressures and they wont be in EU till they sort kurdish problem at least partially, let forget about turkey!!!!
the 17% is ok mate but as u could see there are some of ur arab brothers and even politician in the government thinks there is no right for us at all, to ask for anything coz we only 17%.

we have every right to have our own flag and dont really get u when u say (you have your own flag, isn't that enough?) its enough and no one can abound us from that coz its ours......
Barzani only asked, if u want iraqi flag to be in our places you have to change it coz we lost alot under the flag and simple as that....

programmer craig said...

I'm glad to see you participating in this discussion too, Aram. And thanks for the kind words :)

Kid,

you know better than me that America hasn't got a care in the world for anything but its own

Maybe he actually does know better than you, Kid. The US and Arabs have been at odds with eachother over the question of Israel since before I was born, and I'm a lot older than you. Your opinion of the US is probably not unbiased :)


it will not to choose to support your cause against a very supportive ally (esp. to Israel) like Turkey.

You lost me on that one. Turkey has never been involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Why would Turkey's relationship with Israel, whether good or bad, be of concern to the United States? Does America worry about Indonesia's relationship with Israel? Or Pakistan's? If we weer talking about Iran, it'd be different, because Iran has gotten itself involved in the conflict, primarily via Hezbollah but also by making direct threats. But other than Iran and Arab nations, the US does not concern itself with Israel's foreign relations.

I'm wondering why you think Turkey is such a supportive ally to the US also? I've never gotten that vibe from over here in America. I never got that vibe when I was in the US military, either.

Who do you think was America's most supportive Arab ally in 1990? Things can change in the blink of an eye. And you may not be aware of what a big stink Turkey's Armenian Genocide denial has caused over here, the last few years. Or what a big deal was made of the fact that Turkey refused to let us move the 4th Infantry Division across their borders during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I don't think there are many Americans who view Turkey as an ally. If the US decided to intervene on the side of the Kurds, there would be popular support for that amongst the people. Which means Congress would probably go along with it. Most Senators and Congressman care about little other than getting re-elected.

Konfused Kid said...

Prog Craig, I largely based my viewpoint upon this of this Kurdish lawmaker, Mahmoud Uthman (who is one of my favorite Kurds.)

Strategically, building a Kurdish state in sea of opposition (Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey) is too costly and the reward is very little for America.

Jeffrey said...

Kid and Aram,

It's great to see you two talking to each other. It doesn't happen very often in the Iraqi -- oh-oh, um -- in the Iraqi-Kurdo blogosphere.

Whew! That was close.

*

BlogIraqi said...

I think the kurds are pushing to change the flag only because they can.
And it just gives me a clear view of how the Kurds are distant from the Iraqi people and living in a whole different country where changing the flag is a priority. No matter how many Iraqis die, the Kurds have their own plans and not willing to participate in anything but taking. They feel totally entitled to take whatever they like, because they we suppressed during Saddam's time. Well, guess what our dear brothers, we all were.

Marcus said...

Craig

"btw anonymous,

Good luck for them fighting it off with Turkey and Iran after that. And we'll see who the US will side with then.

The US would side with the Kurds if that happens. In case you were wondering :)"

Surely you must realise that the US would never back Kurdish aspirations by any military action against Turkey?

Turkey has the strongest by far military in the whole region and is a NATO member and is the only really democratic Islamic nation. Much hope is pinned on getting the Turks to join the EU and act as an example for other Islamic nations in their relations to the west.

What is the great strategic importance of the Kurds you see that would outweigh the importance of Turkey?

Yes, the Turks prevented the US from sending in a northern front against Iraq in 03, but it was a democratic desision taken in their parliament in a very narrow voting session. Actually the side voting FOR allowing the US to invade through Turkey won, although not with the required absolute majority.

Still the absolute majority of equipment and supplies to the US forces goes through Turkey. You do realise the impact if Turkey were to put an end to this supply route? Bringing all that equipment up from Kuwait in stead through the Shia region of Iraq. That would really be a very strong trumph card for the Iranians should the US get aggressive against them. I'm sure Teheran would rejoice if that happened.

Not that it ever would happen. There will be NO American military action against Turkey, of that you can be quite sure. The Kurds know this and that's the reason they are not pressing for sesession from Iraq but ae (for the moment) content with autonomy in their own region of Iraq.

JamesinTN said...

sweet never realy realized how many iraqi bloggers out there
(if you watch main stream news media they try to convince you all iraqis run around blowing up things birning women and children and live in mud huts and wish to kill everyone but themselves)
why i live iraqi blogs
anyways i always thought what yall should do is keep the iraqi flag for the moment and just creat region flags like our state flags that way they can be diffrent as they want but still be iraqi

and i always figured ...well look i know yall kurds dont like sunnis or shia much but heck i dont like northerners much realy..and then theres califonia...there just ok i have no clue what they think
anyways even if kurds cant pull away as another country yall can still support each other from terrorist and other nations heck i always figured the israelis and palis cant accualy have a 2 states but be enemies so form a confederation mutual defense etc....

anyways just my $0.01

jamesintn said...

wow i need to spell check i misspelled burning*....

programmer craig said...

Hi Marcus,

Surely you must realise that the US would never back Kurdish aspirations by any military action against Turkey?

No, I don't "realize" that at all. I thought I was pretty clear in my opinions :)

Turkey has the strongest by far military in the whole region

Maybe some day we'll see the evidence of that. Saddam had far and away the most powerful military in the region, in 1990. That's what everyone SAID, anyway. It sure looked that way on paper.

and is a NATO member

As far as NATO, that's as much of an issue for Turkey to resolve as it is for the United States. Maybe it's more of a problem for Turkey, considering the Europeans don't seem to like Turkey very much. The Turks will have to decide whether going up against the Kurds, in defiance of the United States (the defacto leader of NATO) is worth the potential cost in broken alliances and broken relationships. Right?

and is the only really democratic Islamic nation.

It's unclear to me why that should be a pressing concern in US foreign policy. Italy and Germany were both as democratic during the 1930s as Turkey is now. Or are you arguing that the fact it's a Muslim majority country should make a difference? Why is that?

Much hope is pinned on getting the Turks to join the EU and act as an example for other Islamic nations in their relations to the west.

The Europeans don't seem to be hoping that Turkey will join the EU. Which is kinda important, when it comes to membership.

How is that any of America's business, one way or another?

What is the great strategic importance of the Kurds you see that would outweigh the importance of Turkey?

I'm not one who looks at the world in terms of "strategic importance" - and that's the way it is with most Americans. It's only politicos who do that.

But, I can see significant strategic importance in siding with the Kurds against the Turks. If you can't, you aren't looking very hard :)

What do you think the strategic importance of the Turks is? For America, I mean?

Yes, the Turks prevented the US from sending in a northern front against Iraq in 03, but it was a democratic desision taken in their parliament in a very narrow voting session.

OK.

What do you think of the ongoing Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide? And the fact that Turkey has been basically coercing other nations into not formally acknowledging it ever happened, for decades? You know damn good and well that leaves a sour taste in the mouth of every American every time it's mentioned on the news, which has been quite often lately. We don't think of the Turks as good guys. We like good guys. You know that :)

Still the absolute majority of equipment and supplies to the US forces goes through Turkey. You do realise the impact if Turkey were to put an end to this supply route? Bringing all that equipment up from Kuwait in stead through the Shia region of Iraq. That would really be a very strong trumph card for the Iranians should the US get aggressive against them. I'm sure Teheran would rejoice if that happened.

We can find other ways to move supplies. The fact that the Kurdish areas are adjacent to Turkey, are the primary reason why that's a desirable route. You aren't acknowledging that. That one goes in the "Kurds are our allies" column. Moving supplies through Turkey wouldn't matter squat if the Kurds were as potentially hostile to US forces as the Shia in the south are.

Not that it ever would happen. There will be NO American military action against Turkey, of that you can be quite sure.

It must be nice to be sure :)

The Kurds know this and that's the reason they are not pressing for sesession from Iraq but ae (for the moment) content with autonomy in their own region of Iraq.

The Kurds should be told that they can't count on US assistance if they secede. It would be foolish to guarantee it to them, don't you think? Especially after we let them and the Shia both down, after the Gulf War.

But I think the reason they haven't been pressing for secession is because we asked them not to. That's another one that goes in the "Kurds are our allies" column. They'd secede with or without US assistance if they decided that was in their best interests. They basically seceded from Iraq during the 1990s, anyway.

programmer craig said...

But, I can see significant strategic importance in siding with the Kurds against the Turks. If you can't, you aren't looking very hard :)

I mis-spoke there, Marcus. I meant to say "siding with the Kurds". Best case scenario (if this ever happens) is that the Turks back down, and the Iranians jump bad. And there's a pretty good chance of it going down like that. Turkey has a LOT to lose.

lelly said...

That new flag you propose does look a hell of alot like the Egyptian one.
My opinion, for what its worth ( not much!)is that the kurds in Northern Iraq should have their own state, maybe like Scotland is to Britain,...that might work quite well for everyone.
And it would be good if a entirely new flag for Iraq could be decided on, but not now! Things are too crazy.

As for Turkey... can I swear on this blog? Vultures are circling Iraq, everyone wants a piece.

peace...l.

tamer said...

The Kurds do not want to be a part of Iraq. They want their own country. So they should not have one word of input into what the Iraqi flag will be like. If you consider yourself Iraqi and want to be a part of the Iraqi country then your input is necessary but if you do not identify as Iraqi, do not want to be a part of Iraq then you should not get one word input into what our flag will look like.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Just a couple of things I wanted to add to the discussion.

First, in regards to the possible secession of Kurdistan from Iraq, which the Kurds seem to desire. This is something that Turkey is adamantly opposed to, no? Because of that opposition would secession not put a crimp in the trading relationship between these two regions(Turkey and Kurdistan), hurting them both? People may talk about military action, but what of economic consequences?

Second, in regards to Kid's comment about the United States looking out for itself first and foremost. What is the function of a country's government? Is it not to serve and protect the people of the country it governs? For example, in the case of Iraq, do not the people of Iraq want their govenment to put first their needs rather than another country's? In the case of the United States I certainly think we should take into account the needs of our friends, but I also think we should look out for ourselves also.

Aleks said...

I'm fairly certain that we (Americans) would not act strongly enough to deter a Turkish invasion or large scale bombardment of Kurdistan, as we've a extensive history of backstabbing the Kurds, the Kurds are only of strategic value to us as "the stable" part of Iraq, Turkey is an important ally, and (most of all) we're already letting Turkey launch attacks across the border.

Plus Kurdish succession would make us look bad, as Bush and Co. assured the world that we would not dismember Iraq. A lot of people die so that Presidents don't have to admit failure.

jon said...

The idea that the U.S. would back the Kurds over the Turks is hard to justify. As others have pointed out, this is never happened historically. In 1991 the US didn't support mainly the Kurdish/Shia uprising because Turkey and Saudi Arabia didn't want them to- they were afraid of the same thing happening in their countries.

The Turks are about 60 million people, the Kurds about 20 million. Add the Persians, and you see the problem with siding with the Kurds in a war.

The US allows Turkey to bomb Iraqi Kurdistan (the US controls that airspace). Turkey is a valued ally, not just because its democratic, but also because some 70% of supplies to US troops in Iraq go through Turkey/Incirlik airforce base.

Finally, to assert that the Kurds haven't secede because the US hasn't asked them to is absurd. The Kurdish leadership is not stupid, they're not going to secede now because they know that its not in their interests at the moment

FOARP said...

@Jon - The Population of Iraqi Kurdistan is 5.5 million, only with the inclusion of all other Kurdish populations is the 20 million figure reached. You are, however, quite correct to point out that the Turks have already attacked the Kurds, and the US has done nothing to stop this. The United states will not protect the Kurds against Turkey and Iran in a full scale war, if they did, we all know what the results would be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVDF2aQpYZc

I whole-heartedly agree that any substantially new flag brought in now would simply be seen as a symbol of foreign dominance and war. It would be much better simply to keep the flag that Iraq has, and allow the Kurds to decide whether they want to remain in the country it represents at some later date. I too feel for the Kurds and think we should do our best to see that they are not harmed, but we have many other things to worry about.

programmer craig said...

The idea that the U.S. would back the Kurds over the Turks is hard to justify. As others have pointed out, this is never happened historically.

There is no history between the US and the Turks. So there's nothing to refer to, "historically". I'm having trouble understanding why everyone keeps claiming that the Turks are important allies of the US. Is it just because they are members of NATO? That NATO Charter doesn't seem to be worth the paper it's written on, anymore. And it was never meant to apply to the middle-east anyway. I'm kind of puzzled about why Turkey is even a member. That must have been a matter of convenience at some point during the Cold War, but it hardly seems relevant now does it? The world has changed since then, and in case you guys haven't noticed most of America's "allies" don't behave much like allies anymore. They act a bit more like enemies. Time for new relationships, and new alliances. That's my opinion.

This is one of the ones where I'll have to diverge from the people I normally agree with. To support Turkey's oppression of the Kurds (who are REAL allies of the United States) would be morally wrong. To even tolerate it, would be morally wrong. When did this country become one in which we turn a blind eye to our friends and allies being victimized?

Some of you need to stop playing the "global domination" game in your own minds, and think about real people, and the ramifications of real world actions. Some causes are worth fighting for, and some aren't, and whether they are strategically important or not is not a justification for war. Being MORALLY RIGHT is a justification for war. Whenever we forget that, we usually end up losing in the long run. The people will support a strategically unsound war that is the "right" thing to do. They won't support a dubious war, no matter how strategically important it is.

Supporting Turkey (under any circumstances) is dubious, because Turkey is the bad guy in this scenario. This isn't a case where we have to choose the lesser of two evils.

programmer craig said...

jon,

The US allows Turkey to bomb Iraqi Kurdistan (the US controls that airspace).

By the same token, the US allows Iraqi Kurds to enter Turkey and attack Turkish military personnel. The US controls the border.

Turkey is a valued ally, not just because its democratic, but also because some 70% of supplies to US troops in Iraq go through Turkey/Incirlik airforce base.

You haven't said anything in that paragraph that has anything to do with alliances. We move troops and supplies through dozens of countries, every day of the week. Most of them are not allies. All of them are well compensated.

And since when was having a nominally democratic government enough to be called an ally of the United States?

Finally, to assert that the Kurds haven't secede because the US hasn't asked them to is absurd.

And yet, that absurdity is exactly what happened. We had to negotiate pretty hard with the Kurds to get them to agree not to secede, while Iraq was still under US Administrative authority.

The Kurdish leadership is not stupid

You're right. They are anything but stupid. It can't have been easy to get from where they were 15 years ago to where they are today.

they're not going to secede now because they know that its not in their interests at the moment

I agree *at the moment*. What happens if US forces withdraw and the rest of Iraq turns to shit? Is it in their best interests to secede then? If so, they will. In a heartbeat. The question is, what will the US do? Do you think the US is in a big hurry to betray the Kurds *again*? I don't. There isn't anyone in the US that I've ever met, who isn't aware of how badly we dropped the ball after the Gulf War. You guys seem to be arguing that something from our past history that makes us all ashamed is evidence that we'll do the same thing again. Do people normally do things that cause them intense embarrassment, over and over again? Or do they try to get things right in the future? The answer is obvious.

Anonymous said...

"Do African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, Asians, etc., have any connection to the British colonies? Why should they accept a flag that reminds them of America's Anglo-Saxon heritage? Don't minorities make up to 40% of the population (much more than the Kurds in Iraq)?"

Yes of course they do. The roots of our politics and values are in our Anglo Saxan heritage (even if we are not Anglo Saxan) The identification of the colonies as breakaways from Britian is not primarily an ethnic identification; it's an ideological and historical identification. I am as far from a WASP as can be and it represents me. The whole point is to unite all ethnic groups under the same political vision. So what that my ancestors were not here during the American Revolution and didn't come from Britain? That's where America came from, it's my history as an American. The flag stands for my freedom to be able to celebrate and be true to my personal ethnic and religious heritage because of those colonies that broke away from England. You bet it represents me.

lelly said...

^ Well anon. for the record its Anglo-Saxon, not Saxan.
And the angles and the saxons were two main peoples who combined,so it is possible to be one and not the other.

[i]I'm fairly certain that we (Americans) would not act strongly enough to deter a Turkish invasion or large scale bombardment of Kurdistan, as we've a extensive history of backstabbing the Kurds, the Kurds are only of strategic value to us as "the stable" part of Iraq, Turkey is an important ally, and (most of all) we're already letting Turkey launch attacks across the border [i]

Yes the Turks are already bombing across the border and there si fuck-all america, let alone iraq can do about it.
I mean what is Bush gonna say " Don't invaded other countries." ITS WRONG?"

Konfused Kid said...

the problem with prog craig is that he personally hates Turkey for reasons such as the Armenian Genocide thinking that American foreign policy must be run on those emotions. America only cares about only one genocide in history. As for Turkey, its basic strategy in the whole 20th century towards the West was generally one of appeasement and catching up, Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel (right after 1948) and its doing everything it could to present itself as a friendly secular state for that delicious EU membership card, for those reasons, it can be trusted infinitely more than everyone else in the region.
On the other hand, the Kurds are rather poor and undeveloped people whose presence as a state would add a very big sore to America's ass in a region ripe with infections, Kurdistan is a great excuse for Iran and Syria to be even more involved in Iraq than they are, that is, of course, if they don't let Turkey just eat up the whole thing right to Kirkuk, since if I remember correctly, Turkey agreed to the separation of Iraq in 1921 as long as it remains united. America does not care for people who has absolutely nothing to offer her in return except more problems, they have no oil (Kirkuk is still up for contention), there are already foreign bases everywhere else. (Gulf, Turkey) so what is the strategic importance of the Kakas, exactly? What makes them REAL allies, you haven't elaborated on this point, yet.

madtom said...

"Well, guess what our dear brothers, we all were."

And doing your best now, to get it again.

If something has failed every time you try it, why keep doing it over again and expecting a different result.

anand said...

Andrew Sullivan liked your article

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/01/iraqs-new-flag.html

Jeffrey said...

Kid,

Man, it sounds like you're already cleaning and oiling the family AK for a push into Kurdistan.

*

programmer craig said...

the problem with prog craig is that he personally hates Turkey

You're wrong there. I'm pretty much oblivious to Turkey, Kid. Most Americans are, and I'm no different. I'm just stating that as far as I',m concerned, Turkey is no ally of the United States.

And, I don't understand why you keep mentioning Israel... you actually do believe that the Israelis run US foreign policy, don't you? The US doesn't care what Turkey's relationship with Israel is. There may be some paid "pundits" who try to put that forward when they appear on news programs, but that's as far as it goes.

I have to say, I'm getting pretty damned sick of all this talk about "strategic interests". I've been shot at in 3 countries, and not ONE OF THEM was important to the US, strategically. You guys are watching too much TV.

Konfused Kid said...

I mentioned Israel to show that Turkey is warmer to Western viewpoints of how the Middle East should be shaped than other countries, so, you still haven't presented us with a logical explanation as to why would the US seek to replace a stable, secular ally with a fragile fledgling that threatens to create even more chaos that would probably just go out of hand. What is your case built upon? Please don't tell me it's America's sympathy towards humanity and injustice.

programmer craig said...

Kid,

I mentioned Israel to show that Turkey is warmer to Western viewpoints of how the Middle East should be shaped than other countries

It may well be. But Turkey isn't in the middle east, nor is Turkey involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Turkey is in Europe. And since Turkey would like to be considered a western country, I would expect that their attitudes should be pro-Western. Wouldn't you? Seriously? That's actually one of my complaints with Turkey - it seems we accept Turkey as a Western and European country, without expecting Turkey to meet the same standards that we expect of a Western and/or European country.

so, you still haven't presented us with a logical explanation as to why would the US seek to replace a stable, secular ally

I'm not advocating "replacement" of Turkey. I want Turkey to step up and do what's right. Or, at the very least, to stop being a bad actor in the region.

with a fragile fledgling that threatens to create even more chaos that would probably just go out of hand.

Kid, the US has more experience with "fragile fledglings" than you realize.

What is your case built upon? Please don't tell me it's America's sympathy towards humanity and injustice.

I thought I explained it pretty clearly, Kid. I reject the notion that we should stand aside just because it's in our "strategic interests" to. I did a lot of shit during the Cold War that I didn't want to do, because somebody decided that was in America's strategic interests. The Cold War is over. It's not in America's strategic interests to stand aside while the Kurds get rolled by the Turks.

Lets examine that for a moment. If the US ends up going to war with Iran in the near future, who is more important MILITARILY to the United States? The Kurds, or the Turks? Well... The Kurds can help us by providing safe staging areas on Iran's western border. Air fields, in close proximity, which is important. The Kurds can also help us, inside Iran. They can help a lot. What can the Turks do for us? Provide airfields, at some distance. No land routes. And no guarantees they'd even help, at all, as they refused us when we asked for access in 2003. No help in Iran, whatsoever.

Which is more important to the US in the near future, Kid?

Now lets look at economic strategic interests. What does Turkey have that we want? Anything? Nothing that I'm aware of. Their number one export seems to be cheap labor for the Europeans. We get cheap labor from Mexico, and a lot more of it than we can use. What do teh Kurds have? Well, they may or may not have oil, depending on what day it is I guess. They do have some lovely scenery and maybe we can build a new Disney theme park ther e or some such shit like that, right?

The Kurds may not be more important to the US economically than the Turks, but they aren't less important either.

Finally, what about America's political strategic interests?

What do you think the US needs most, politically, right now? Do we need to be seen supporting an oppressor? A country with the poor track record that I have already mentioned? And the target of that oppression, are the people who helped us the most in Iraq - a mission that has been intensely unpopular all over the world? Do we need to be seen throwing our best friends in Iraq over the side, as we head for the exit? Would that help America, politically, on the world stage?

Or would it help more for the US to be seen doing the right thing, just because it's the right thing to do, for a change? You said it yourself, Kid... everyone thinks we're a bunch of self serving cut-throats who'd do anything to stay on top. Do you think that image is beneficial to the US, strategically? Or not so much?

If we get into Syria and Iran I won't even bother with these arguments. So don't get me started on that. The word "mousetrap" comes to mind nicely in those scenarios, and it couldn't happen to nicer folks.

Marcus said...

Craig

I’m not saying that the US are keen to add Turkey to the conflict in Iraq, of course they are not. The Kurdish region is the prime (only?) showcase for the benefits of removing Saddam and the US wants it stable.

However. The PKK are operating inside Turkey and from bases inside Iraqi Kurdistan. And the PKK IS a terrorist organisation recognized to be so from the US as well. As long as Kurdistan is a part of Iraq the Turks can take this conflict with the Iraqi government and launch punitive strikes inside Iraqi Kurdistan as long as it’s contained to PKK territory, as they are presently doing. Now IF the kurds were to secede and form a nation it’s a different matter. Now you have a terrorist organisation operating from a nation state and attacking another. You can not claim that Barzani and Talbani would be keen to send their Pesh Merga to fight fellow kurds in the mountains to protect the Turks. That would make the case that the new Kurdish state is a state sponsor of terrorism and what do we do with those? Turkey would invade using the first PKK mission as pretext and it would claim to be fighting a war on terror and it would be right. Just like when the US ousted the Taliban because they would not hand over Al Qaida the Turks can oust the Kurdish leadership because they failed to hand over the PKK.

You seem to think that the US, should it come to this, would back the Kurds and be prepared to attack Turkey. It would not. I’ll address some of you points and try to explain why.

Craig:

“The Europeans don't seem to be hoping that Turkey will join the EU. Which is kinda important, when it comes to membership.”

The European nations ARE hoping this. The public opinion is not so supportive but it wasn’t very supportive when it came to the former Eastern European states either and they are now members. The fact that Turkey is even up for membership is proof enough. Turkey could easily be excluded on geography alone sine it lies mostly in Asia anyway. But it is not.

Turkey does have some problems it needs to address in order to be allowed to enter, with human rights violations, etc. That’s what’s taking place now. Negotiations about what adjustments Turkey needs to make to be allowed to enter and such adjustments take time.

Craig:

”How is that any of America's business, one way or another?”

Evidently it is sine the US has been lobbying intensely for Turkey to join the EU for over a decade. No, don’t take my word for it. Just google “Turkey + EU + US lobbying” and I’m sure you’ll get how it’s Americas business.

Craig:

”I'm not one who looks at the world in terms of "strategic importance" - and that's the way it is with most Americans. It's only politicos who do that.”

Politicos. You mean the ones who would DECIDE should ever this kind of conflict break out.

Craig:

”But, I can see significant strategic importance in siding with the Kurds against the Turks. If you can't, you aren't looking very hard :)”

I see a tactical importance in keeping the north of Iraq stable. Outside an Iraqi context I see very little strategic importance by siding with 5 million people in the north of Iraq.

Craig:

”What do you think the strategic importance of the Turks is? For America, I mean?”

There is a country that lies between east and west. Between Europe and Asia. Between the Muslim world and the Christian. Between the Black sea and the Mediterranean. This country, of 70 million people, was a solid partner to the west during the cold war and fought against the axis during WW2 and is a Nato member with a formidable military (since it gets most of it’s equipment from the US and is synchronized with the joint military platform of Nato). That’s Turkey.

Iraqi Kurdistan has about 5-6 million people, no sea border and is basically mostly farm land with two rival tribal bosses (with a history of internal warfare but a present alliance of convenience) and a tough but not well equipped militia.

Which is of greater strategic importance? You tell me.

Craig:

”What do you think of the ongoing Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide? […]”

Personally I think it’s about time they “fess up” to this.

Craig:

”The Kurds should be told that they can't count on US assistance if they secede. It would be foolish to guarantee it to them, don't you think?”

Precisely my point. No need to make such a guarantee because it would be a false promise.

Tell them to keep in line, tell them to halt any support to the PKK and to attack them if possible, tell them to be content with autonomy in their own region of Iraq and to tread carefully when it comes to Kirkuk. And do like Kid says and give them two yellow stripes on the flag. :)

Jeffrey said...

Kid,

This is off-topic, but I'd like to request something from you. I've been following your entries over at Iraq Blog Count (wow, a marriage between two Iraqi bloggers!) and I was hoping that you could write a review of the Arabic-language Iraqi bloggers for us and post it here (where you get more traffic -- kudos, by the way, on getting linked by Andrew Sullivan).

Iraqi Bloggers Central only follows the English-language Iraqi bloggers, so I've always been curious to find out what Iraqis writing in their own language are saying. If you ever have time, I'd love to read anything you have to say about this other group of bloggers. For example, in the Anglophone Iraqi blogosphere, there are few bloggers whose focus is on atheism. A summary of your blog entries on them would be helpful to us.

Thanks in advance.

*

programmer craig said...

Hi Marcus, thanks for the reply.

However. The PKK are operating inside Turkey and from bases inside Iraqi Kurdistan. And the PKK IS a terrorist organisation recognized to be so from the US as well. As long as Kurdistan is a part of Iraq the Turks can take this conflict with the Iraqi government and launch punitive strikes inside Iraqi Kurdistan as long as it’s contained to PKK territory, as they are presently doing.

Which is why the fact that the US hasn't intervened in Turkey's punitive strikes can't be used as evidence of what the US would do if the Kurds seceded and Turkey invaded. It's apples and oranges, in my opinion.

Now IF the kurds were to secede and form a nation it’s a different matter. Now you have a terrorist organisation operating from a nation state and attacking another.

Yep. Just like Lebanon, with Hezbollah.

You can not claim that Barzani and Talbani would be keen to send their Pesh Merga to fight fellow kurds in the mountains to protect the Turks.

Again, same as Lebanon. The Lebanese government has not even attempted to do anything about Hezbollah, as far as I can tell. In fact, Hezbollah is part of the government... or would be, if they weren't constantly boycotting.

That would make the case that the new Kurdish state is a state sponsor of terrorism and what do we do with those?

You mean on paper? Or in real life? Iran may or may not be held to account for it's terrorism. We are attempting to maintain friendly relations with Lebanon, at the moment. I think the situation with the Kurds more closely resembles lebanon. But even that is not an apt comparison, because Hezbollah has murdered hundreds of Americans, and has otherwise victimized (hijackings, kidnappings) at least a thousand more. The US doesn't have any similar grievance with the Kurds.

Turkey would invade using the first PKK mission as pretext and it would claim to be fighting a war on terror and it would be right.

In the same way that the Russians are right when they make that claim about Chechnya. Or, in the same way that the Serbs weer right when they made that claim against the Bosnians and the Kosovars.

Just like when the US ousted the Taliban because they would not hand over Al Qaida the Turks can oust the Kurdish leadership because they failed to hand over the PKK.

No, that's a serious stretch. The Taliban was not blameless, itself. The Taliban was a criminal and unrecognized government, responsible for countless acts of violence and violations of international law. Including hostage taking, kidnapping and murder.

You seem to think that the US, should it come to this, would back the Kurds and be prepared to attack Turkey. It would not. I’ll address some of you points and try to explain why.

I don't agree. But I'll address your points in another comment.

programmer craig said...

By the way, Marcus, what do you think Lebanon's strategic value to the United States is?

re: the EU

The European nations ARE hoping this. The public opinion is not so supportive but it wasn’t very supportive when it came to the former Eastern European states either and they are now members.

Saying public opinion about Turkey joining the EU is a bit of an understatement, isn't it? And when people seem to be saying that Turkey will join the EU over their dead bodies, how can you claim they secretly support Turkey joining the EU? :)

I don't think your comparison to the Eastern Europeans is valid. I think most Europeans would kick Turkey out of Europe, if they could. Western Europeans may have contempt for eastern Europeans, but they seem to absolutely loathe the Turks.

There's an additional problem, and that is that Turkey is a Muslim nation. Once it is allowed into the EU, it becomes a gateway for mass immigration or Muslims into Europe, with very little the Europeans can do about it. And a lot of European politicians have already been voted out of office on the issue of immigration - particularly of Muslims.

It seems to me that it is the US that is pushing for Turkey to be allowed into the EU. And the US doesn't have the same clout in Europe that it used to.

You have any idea why the US is so excited about the prospect of Turkey being in the EU, by the way? I don't.

The fact that Turkey is even up for membership is proof enough. Turkey could easily be excluded on geography alone sine it lies mostly in Asia anyway. But it is not.

I don't think it would be so easy to exclude Turkey on the basis of geography. Or on the basis of history, either. A lot of Eastern European countries are technically in Asia, but are still considered part of Europe for cultural and historical reasons.

Turkey does have some problems it needs to address in order to be allowed to enter, with human rights violations, etc.

Then there should be no problem with the Kurds. Right? That's not Turkish land. The Turks have no rights to it. The Turks can worry about themselves and stop oppressing the Kurds, and we'll all be happy. Right? And then we don't even need to talk about which side the US would take.

Evidently it is sine the US has been lobbying intensely for Turkey to join the EU for over a decade.

Yes. Why? And why are there so many Americans on this blog claiming Turkey is such a great ally of the US, when no evidence of that alliance can be seen? I don't get it. I feel like I've been left out of some big secret meeting, that the rest of you attended.

Politicos. You mean the ones who would DECIDE should ever this kind of conflict break out.

No. Those are politicians. "Politicos" are people who talk about politics for a living. Analysts. Pundits. Bloggers like Juan Cole. University professors who specialize in political sciences. Etc.

I see a tactical importance in keeping the north of Iraq stable. Outside an Iraqi context I see very little strategic importance by siding with 5 million people in the north of Iraq.

An Iraqi context? Well, wasn't the strategic value you placed on Turkey in an Iraqi context? How much strategic importance will Turkey have, when there are no US troops in Iraq?

By the way, operational level and above is strategic, not tactical. Just FYI. What you are talking about is strategic.

What about in the wider world, though? Iraq is not going to be on the front burner for much more than a year or so, most likely.

There is a country that lies between east and west. Between Europe and Asia. Between the Muslim world and the Christian. Between the Black sea and the Mediterranean. This country, of 70 million people, was a solid partner to the west during the cold war and fought against the axis during WW2 and is a Nato member with a formidable military (since it gets most of it’s equipment from the US and is synchronized with the joint military platform of Nato). That’s Turkey.

OK. You explained why Turkey is important to the Europeans. Why is Turkey important to the Americans?

Iraqi Kurdistan has about 5-6 million people, no sea border and is basically mostly farm land with two rival tribal bosses (with a history of internal warfare but a present alliance of convenience) and a tough but not well equipped militia.

Sounds pretty good to me.

How would you describe Israel? How would you have described Israel 50 years ago?

By the way, most people consider geographical border between the ME and Asia to be the one between Iran and Iran. Arguably a more important transition than the one between Europe and Asia. There are numerous countries on the Eurasian fringe, not just Turkey.

Which is of greater strategic importance? You tell me.

You didn't even make an argument about why the Turks were important to the US. You are arguing about why they are important globally, perhaps. Or why they are important to the Europeans. I don't live in Europe, and I'm not an internationalist. I'm an American.

Hmmm.... perhaps that is the crux of our dispute. I am NOT looking at this from an internationalist standpoint. Are you? I'm a Libertarian, man. I'm pretty much an isolationist. When I say "FTW" I don't mean "For the Win".

Precisely my point. No need to make such a guarantee because it would be a false promise.

There are no guarantees in politics. That's why politicians rarely make "promises" anymore. Doesn't really mean much, one way or another.

Tell them to keep in line, tell them to halt any support to the PKK and to attack them if possible, tell them to be content with autonomy in their own region of Iraq and to tread carefully when it comes to Kirkuk. And do like Kid says and give them two yellow stripes on the flag. :)

It's not my place to tell the Kurds what they should or shouldn't do, or to even encourage them one way or another. Have you seen me in this thread or any other, actually advocating some action from the Kurds? Or the lack of it? None of my business, man. All I can do is wish them well. What I've been talking about in this thread is about what the US should do, or not do, and the reasons for that, if the Kurds do end up seceding at some point in the future.

Marcus said...

Craig

"Saying public opinion about Turkey joining the EU is a bit of an understatement, isn't it? And when people seem to be saying that Turkey will join the EU over their dead bodies, how can you claim they secretly support Turkey joining the EU? :)"

The will of the parlaiment in Brussels is that Turkey make adjustmnts that will allow it to enter the EU. It's a fractured debate with those for and those against.

Craig:

"I don't think your comparison to the Eastern Europeans is valid."

Why not? It's basically the same arguments. They are poorer so we'll have to subsidise them and they will flood here using our social welfare, etc.

Craig:

"I think most Europeans would kick Turkey out of Europe, if they could. Western Europeans may have contempt for eastern Europeans, but they seem to absolutely loathe the Turks."

Sure, there are some who do. Nazis, skinheads, the far right movement. We got our fanatics just like most folks.

Craig:

"There's an additional problem, and that is that Turkey is a Muslim nation."

Which is put forth as a great benefit also. To showcase to the rest of the muslim world that a muslim nation can coexist with western nations and even be included in a union with them.

Craig:

"Once it is allowed into the EU, it becomes a gateway for mass immigration or Muslims into Europe, with very little the Europeans can do about it."

Turkish muslims will be allowed to move freely in all other member states, not muslims in general.

Craig:

"And a lot of European politicians have already been voted out of office on the issue of immigration - particularly of Muslims."

Yes, this is true. But not in all European nations. Austria and Denmark most readily comes to mind.

Craig:

"You have any idea why the US is so excited about the prospect of Turkey being in the EU, by the way? I don't."

Basically they like the idea of a muslim nation with a democratic system co-existing with western nations.

Craig:

"I don't think it would be so easy to exclude Turkey on the basis of geography. Or on the basis of history, either. A lot of Eastern European countries are technically in Asia, but are still considered part of Europe for cultural and historical reasons."

Name one such country. I'll even help you. Here's a map of Europe:

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/eu.htm

And here's one of the EU counries:

http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/index_en.htm

If you find one country in the second map which is not in Europe (as defined by the first map) be sure to let me know.

Also note the location of Turkey and you'll understand that it is entirel feasible for the EU to say to Turkey: "Sorry, you guys are in Asia and we're a union for Europe". But the EU does NOT say that. Because the EU does NOT wish to shut the door for Turkish membership.

That's it for me tonight. The rest will have to wait.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Craig,

Personally I tend to agree with you. The Kurds should have the option of being independent if that is what they really want. That is speaking from the heart.

From a practical standpoint it seems there are too many insurmountable barriers to a Kurdish secession being a success, not only for them but for the region. Not only do you have Turkey being opposed, but you also have Iran and Syria because of their Kurdish minority populations. And you can couple that with a possible balancing role by the Kurds in Iraq. I think Iraq as an entity would be stronger with the Kurds than without.

But really, this whole argument strikes me as something that could be moot, if only people in Iraq would be allowed the freedom to be who they wanted to be. The Kurds would always have their culture and traditions, the Shia their religious festivals, and those who are secular would have the option of not being involved in those religious activities. Because is it not past oppression that really drives the desire for independence?

programmer craig said...

Hey Marcus, you're European? Well, now I understand why you've got a different take on things than I do :)

I'll continue debating the points with you anyway.

The will of the parlaiment in Brussels is that Turkey make adjustmnts that will allow it to enter the EU. It's a fractured debate with those for and those against.

And that debate means nothing if the citizens in the member states don't approve of the decision, right? Please tell me that's how it works, because it would be horrifying to me to learn that the citizens in the member states of the EU have no say in what the EU does.

Why not? It's basically the same arguments. They are poorer so we'll have to subsidise them and they will flood here using our social welfare, etc.

Same arguments. Different emotions.

Sure, there are some who do. Nazis, skinheads, the far right movement. We got our fanatics just like most folks.

Just them, huh? I lived in Germany for about 6 months, doing some of the technical work on a major construction project. All of the menial labor on that job site was done by Turks. I saw with my own eyes how well Turks and Germans get along. I doubt that every German on that site was a nazi, skinhead, etc... some of them were executives in a large multi-national corporation.

Which is put forth as a great benefit also. To showcase to the rest of the muslim world that a muslim nation can coexist with western nations and even be included in a union with them.

Yes. The problem is that a lot of Europeans feel that experiment is going to end in a disaster, and they don't want to suffer for it.

Turkish muslims will be allowed to move freely in all other member states, not muslims in general.

Hmmm. Yes. Interesting. And exactly how will that be enforced? Do you intend to dictate to Turkey who it can and cannot grant passports and visas to? Once the door is opened, it can't be closed again. You'll just have to trust the Turks to enforce EU policy. Do you trust the Turks?

Basically they like the idea of a muslim nation with a democratic system co-existing with western nations.

Eh... thanks for the info. I'll be sure to let everyone know.

Name one such country. I'll even help you. Here's a map of Europe

Your map of "Europe" is a political map, not a geographical one. It puts the border between Europe and Asia at the Ural Mountains, instead of the Caucasus Mountains. And for some reason it doesn't include Kazakstan, even though Kazakstan would appear to be within the boundary.

That's exactly the point I was trying to make, and I couldn't have illustrated it any better. The "border" between Europe and Asia has shifted Eastward quite a ways in the last 20 years, and has put countries such as Georgia, which have never been considered part of Europe, inside Europe.

Did you notice that map invalidates your argument about Turkey being the country that lies between Europe and Asia? That country is now Georgia.

But the EU does NOT say that. Because the EU does NOT wish to shut the door for Turkish membership.

I think the EU doesn't say that because it's an untenable position. It would be clear and obvious racism, at the level of national governments. The only other option would be for Turkey to be part of the Middle-East, which it historically has not been. I suppose you could just orphan Turkey and insist they are neither European nor Middle-Eastern, right?

That's it for me tonight. The rest will have to wait.

OK. Me too, I'm heading out to see a movie.

programmer craig said...

Hey Lynette,

From a practical standpoint it seems there are too many insurmountable barriers to a Kurdish secession being a success, not only for them but for the region.

There is no such thing as an insurmountable barrier :)

Not only do you have Turkey being opposed, but you also have Iran and Syria because of their Kurdish minority populations.

Turkey is the only one that matters, in my opinion. Syria and Iran are both facing the unknown in the near future, anyway. Things are going to be changing for them soon, one way or another. Again, just my opinion, but there are a lot of forces in play right now that are focusing on both Iran and Syria.

And you can couple that with a possible balancing role by the Kurds in Iraq. I think Iraq as an entity would be stronger with the Kurds than without.

I agree.

But really, this whole argument strikes me as something that could be moot, if only people in Iraq would be allowed the freedom to be who they wanted to be. The Kurds would always have their culture and traditions, the Shia their religious festivals, and those who are secular would have the option of not being involved in those religious activities. Because is it not past oppression that really drives the desire for independence?

I agree with you on that as well. It's not something either one of us has any control over, though.

Jeffrey said...

P. Craig,

Marcus belongs, I believe, to the group headed by Bruno and Oitalian that hang out at Zeyad's. He is Swedish, I think. It always helps to know where someone is from in an argument.

*

Jon said...

p craig,

You cannot say that Turkey is historically part of Europe. The predecessor to Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, formed the shifting boundary between Europe (Christendom) and the East/Islam for centuries. Only after Ataturk re-fashioned Turkey as a European-style nation state could the Turks claim to be part of Europe. The short, modern history of Turkey has been one focused on becoming part of Europe. But its hard to make the case that Turkey is definitively (or exclusively) part of any one region.

The US does NOT control the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. It is controlled by the KRG and Ankara. The US doesn't have enough troops (or motivation) to patrol the borders of Iraq, especially not in the mountains.

The PKK bases are not concentrated on the border with Turkey, rather they are in the Qandil Mountains which are closer to Iran.

Morality cannot be the basis of a foreign policy. Pragmatism must come first- this is self-evident. for it is immoral to make promises that you can't keep (a la the '91 uprising). If you want a moral policy, then you have the US in Darfur, in Burma, overthrowing North Korea, freeing Taiwan, etc. This is an untenable policy and would cause international backlash.

Supporting the secession of Iraqi Kurdistan at this juncture would be horrible. It would likely cause the outbreak of war between Turkey, Iran, and Syria against the Kurds. The Kurds wouldn't win, oil prices would skyrocket (the Kurds do have lots of oil, even if you don't include Kirkuk, and most oil/gas from that region goes to the Turkish port of Ceyhan).

Russia would be furious (because Kurdish secession creates a precedent for Chechnya), along with China and other states which have breakaway regions. The Arabs can't stand the Kurds, and would view a Kurdish state in a way that many view Israel- as a mark of Western Imperialism. The US is way to bogged down in Iraq to handle all of these things.

Iraqi Kurds can only get their own state until after Turkey solves its own Kurdish question. Until then, the Iraqi Kurds are better retaining Iraqi suzerainty over the region, and they know this. Suggesting for them to break away is foolish at this juncture, and suggesting for the US help them do that is advocating ASSISTED SUICIDE.

programmer craig said...

jon,

You cannot say that Turkey is historically part of Europe. The predecessor to Turkey, the Ottoman Empire

We aren't talking about the Ottoman Empire. We're talking about the piece of land that Turkey is situated on. Which was in the possession of a lot of other people before for a lot of years, before the Turks took it over. I cede the point that it was romantically considered the bridge between the orient and the occident, but I don't ceded any point about it's geographical location.

formed the shifting boundary between Europe (Christendom) and the East/Islam for centuries.

If we're going to use religious references, Constantinople was the Capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Only after Ataturk re-fashioned Turkey as a European-style nation state could the Turks claim to be part of Europe. The short, modern history of Turkey has been one focused on becoming part of Europe. But its hard to make the case that Turkey is definitively (or exclusively) part of any one region.

OK. I will argue no further. I don't care about this issue. I'm neither European, nor Turkish. I'm not sure how it got brought up.

Morality cannot be the basis of a foreign policy. Pragmatism must come first- this is self-evident.

Both are necessary. Either one without the other, results in disaster. That's what I've been arguing all along. And I disagree "pragmatism" comes first. The first decision that must be made is "is this something we want to do? Is it the RIGHT thing to do?" - and THEN the questions about practicality. Just because something is of strategic value and it's "easy" to accomplish, doesn't mean that's something that should be done.

for it is immoral to make promises that you can't keep (a la the '91 uprising).

The immorality was not in the "promise" - there never was one. The immorality was standing by and watching, and doing nothing.

And several people in this thread are arguing it should be allowed to go down that way again. It'll be just as immoral the next time. And the time after that.

If you want a moral policy, then you have the US in Darfur, in Burma, overthrowing North Korea, freeing Taiwan, etc. This is an untenable policy and would cause international backlash.

Morality, causes an international backlash? That's a tough one to swallow :P

The issues you raise, are the domain of the UN. Have you forgotten what the UN is for? The purpose of it's existence?

It isn't a "moral imperative" for the US to try to fix all of the world's problems. We do have a moral obligation to the Kurds, in my opinion, as a country.

Supporting the secession of Iraqi Kurdistan at this juncture would be horrible.

What would you call it if the Kurds seceded, and nobody supported them? A walk in the park?

It would likely cause the outbreak of war between Turkey, Iran, and Syria against the Kurds.

And the US. If those countries are fool enough to do that, then let them take their payment for it. The US knows how to play that game. We know it very well indeed. We played it all over the globe, and none of the countries has the USSR standing behind them. I suggest they think long and hard before making threats. We just may take them up on them. The US would not be averse to having a scenario go down in which Iran and Syria are the aggressors.

Marcus said...

Jeffrey

I am Swedish and I am commenting at Zeyads and I do oppose the war. But I don't belong to any "group", I speak for myself.

Craig

The geographical borders between Europe and Asia do run along the Ural mountains and always have. In all definitions of geographical Europe the Urals are part of the border.

You are correct in that the border further south, in the caucasus region, is more contested and the definitions vary more. Some have defined it by visible landmarks, i.e rivers and mountains, to have a visible border. Others have tried to define it along the divide of the tectonic plates that separate the Eurasian plate from the Arabian one.

Georgia and Khazakstan and Azerbadjan are all part Europe and part Asia and the percentage vary according to where you define the border. But we didn't talk about these countries, did we? They are not current EU states and they are not Turkey.

As for the current EU member states all lie well within the borders of geographical Europe. All of them. No exceptions.

As for Turkey it's about 3% Europe and 97% Asia whichever border you recognise since ALL of them has the Europe/Asia divide at the Bosporous.

Now. What I was trying to explain was this:

We have a union of 27 countries whose territory are 100% within the geographical borders of Europe and the union is defined as EUROPEAN. Turkey is about 3% European. Those are the facts. So if we didn't want Turkey to join we could have used that as a reason.

Craig:

"Did you notice that map invalidates your argument about Turkey being the country that lies between Europe and Asia? That country is now Georgia."

What?! Sure Georgia is on the border but so is Turkey. I never said Turkey was the only country on that border. If you want to go for the country with the longest such border I suggest Russia. Doesn't make my statement incorrect though.

Marcus said...

A very long but also very informative article on Iraqi Kurdistan, it's relationship with the US and the conflict with Turkey:

http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/153944

programmer craig said...

Marcus,

The geographical borders between Europe and Asia do run along the Ural mountains and always have. In all definitions of geographical Europe the Urals are part of the border.

That's not correct. I don't know how old you are, but I'm old enough to remember when the maps looked quite different from the way they do today. I'm also old enough to remember when there wasn't a "border" between Europe and Asia at all. There was Europe, and then there was Eurasia, and then there was Asia. The transition has always been ill-defined... that what the "Eurasia" definition was all about. But there's no denying Europe proper is expanding to the east. Keep pressing me on this and I'll have to scan some maps out of a 100 year old Atlas and e-mail them to you :)

Anyway, this is a side issue that's not really worth arguing about. It probably matters to you, but not so much to me. And it's not really relevant to what we were debating, which is whether or not the US would side with the Kurds if they seceded.

Can we get back on that? I'm still waiting for an explanation of why Turkey is such an important ally of the United States, from an American perspective. Not NATO, and not Europe, and not the UN, and not for world peace or global stability... why is Turkey so important to America?

I honestly don't see it. I don't see anything that Turkey has ever done for the US, or could ever be expected to do, that warrants being called a US ally at all, let alone a vital ally. We get a lot of this Europeans spin about Turkey over here in the US, and it baffles me. I think it baffles most Americans. We can name most of the countries we have "special relationships" with, and Turkey ain't on the list. I wonder about the news reports that the US is pressuring the EU to accept Turkey, as well. There's something going on there, and it stinks to high heaven.

PS - Who here thinks that defending Taiwan from China is less reckless than defending Kurds from Turks? And who thinks that it would be strategically wise to get in a war with China over Taiwan?

Exactly. And yet, we've been promising to defend Taiwan from China for 50 years.

Marcus said...

Craig

You are simply wrong about your statement about where the border of Europe and Asia is. The most recognised definition is from 1730 which is long enough ago for me to claim it to be usable as a fact.

Here's a good link that explains this in detail:

http://www.phespirit.info/places/2006_09_skopje_1.htm

OK, over and done with since it's a small side topic anyway.

Craig:

"I'm still waiting for an explanation of why Turkey is such an important ally of the United States, from an American perspective. Not NATO, and not Europe, and not the UN, and not for world peace or global stability... why is Turkey so important to America?"

Do you want a domestic American reason? That I can't provide.

The strategic importance of Turkey is precicely for global (or at least regional) strategic reasons, Nato membership, etc.

What do you think Nato is by the way? What if not a geo-strategic alliance headed by the USA? Of course the other members are of importance to the USA, why else would there be a need for an alliance with them? Only to sell F16:s?

Granted the importance of Nato as a whole and Turkey as a member of Nato and as a partner in other ways have diminished since the end of the cold war. But please don't tell me that it takes the USA less than 20 years to forget a geo-strategic alliance and turn a friend into a foe.

Not that I believe this. I'm sure the US policy-makers have no wish for deteriorating relationships with Turkey, which is why they'll not guarantee the Kurds protection of a Kurdish nation state and the Kurds will pick up the clue and refrain from secession and Turkey will not invade. I hope.

Marcus said...

I kind of like this analysis. Especially the final conclusion:

http://www.rojname.com/index.kur...urd? nuce=232559

"Barzani's antagonism to Turkey also undercuts any possibility of a U.S. alliance. Many Kurdish officials look at U.S.-Turkish relations as a zero-sum game: either Washington pursues friendship with Erbil or allies itself with Ankara. Most Kurdish officials do not understand that the two relationships need not be mutually exclusive. Too often, Kurdish authorities tell visiting American officials that Iraqi Kurdistan would be a much better ally than Turkey. They understand neither the breadth of the U.S.-Turkish relationship nor how poorly received are Kurdish demands that Washington filter its alliances through the interests of any other state. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel, for example, may wish that Washington would scale back its relations with the other, but both accept that this will not happen. Barzani has no such sophistication and appears intent on forcing the White House to choose between Ankara and Erbil. Should it do so, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership will be disappointed."

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Craig,

There is no such thing as an insurmountable barrier :)

lol! Spoken like a true American. Now if only we can convince the Iraqis of that! :)

Turkey is the only one that matters, in my opinion.

From an American standpoint, I agree. They are a member of NATO and as such have a mutual defense pact with us. It would be rather awkward if we were seen as abrogating that.

From a Kurdish standpoint they really have to take into account all of those states that border their region. For them to survive as a viable nation they have to trade. In their case that means using an overland route or air, since they are landlocked. If these routes are blocked because of instability in bordering states(Iraq), or deliberate blocking of the borders by bordering states(Turkey, Iran or Syria), they may find that trade rather difficult. There is always the option of smuggling, but I don't think that a smuggler's or terrorist's haven is what they aspire to when they say they want to be an independent nation. They are a small population and may run the risk of ending up another Gaza.

But really, this whole argument strikes me as something that could be moot, if only people in Iraq would be allowed the freedom to be who they wanted to be...

It's not something either one of us has any control over, though.

Yes, I know. *sigh* This is the way out of quite a few of their difficulties, but they may not be ready to take it. And they certainly won't take the advice of some eeeeeevil American. ;)

programmer craig said...

Marcus,

Do you want a domestic American reason? That I can't provide.

I'm not sure what other kind of America there is? Anyway, I can't provide one either. Which is problematic, when people are claiming the US won't support teh Kurds because Turkey is an important US ally. I *can* provide reasons why the Kurds are important to the US.

The strategic importance of Turkey is precicely for global (or at least regional) strategic reasons, Nato membership, etc.

OK. Then perhaps NATO and the UN, in cooperation with the Europeans governments, can resolve the situation before it becomes something a crisis. I've already stated that I believe the US will support the Kurds if they secede, and my reasons why I believe that. The "global security" arguments do not trump them. Not for Americans, they don't.

What do you think Nato is by the way? What if not a geo-strategic alliance headed by the USA?

NATO was a very important alliance during the Cold War. At it's core, it had most of the allies of WWII. And it had the Warsaw Pact in opposition. You know all this, of course.

NATO now contains many members who were on part of the Warsaw Pact in the past. It also has many members who were not members during the Cold War, when the alliance was important.

I don't really know what the purpose of NATO is, now. I'm not against NATO, if nothing else it is good for practicing military co-operation between friendly countries, and for reacting to a humanitarian crisis. It's certainly more effective than the UN is when it comes to peacekeeping missions. But I do expect that all members of an alliance should actually be allies with the other members, and that doesn't seem to be the case at present.

Of course the other members are of importance to the USA, why else would there be a need for an alliance with them?

Exactly. Do you think the US believes it can rely on most NATO members, if things get ugly in the future?

I would prefer a smaller alliance, that contained only nations that would actually honor a mutual defense agreement. That's what a military alliance is supposed to be.

Only to sell F16:s?

Most NATO members do not use American military hardware. We sell a lot of F16s to people who aren't in NATO, though. Like, Saudi Arabia :O

Not sure why you threw that one in there, can you explain?

Granted the importance of Nato as a whole and Turkey as a member of Nato and as a partner in other ways have diminished since the end of the cold war. But please don't tell me that it takes the USA less than 20 years to forget a geo-strategic alliance and turn a friend into a foe.

I don't think it's the US that turned away from Europe, Marcus. I think it's the other way around.

Why do you think it's the responsibilty of the United States to back down from Turkey, just because Turkey is a NATO member? Why isn't it the responsibility of Turkey to back down from the US, not just because it's a NATO member but because it's a founding member of NATO and (used to be at least) the defacto leader of NATO?

Why would a breakdown in the alliance be the fault of the US? Has the US not made it's position re: Kurds clear to Turkey, and to the whole world?

Not that I believe this. I'm sure the US policy-makers have no wish for deteriorating relationships with Turkey, which is why they'll not guarantee the Kurds protection of a Kurdish nation state and the Kurds will pick up the clue and refrain from secession and Turkey will not invade.

Again, you place responsibility on the US to accommodate Turkey, and not on Turkey to accommodate the US. Do you believe the Turkish position is the correct one? Or is the American position the correct one?

Try supporting the correct one, Marcus.

I'm not surprised you choose to believe what you want to believe about what the US will or won't do in the future. We've been arguing for several days about this issue, and you keep telling me (an American) why we (Americans) won't do what I think we (Americans) will in fact do.

We don't think the same way you guys do, Marcus. Haven't you understood that, yet? I thought the last 6 or 7 years made it pretty clear? I'm not trying to criticize, I'm just pointing out that the US and Europe have diverged. A parting of ways. You've probably pointed that out yourself on other issues. But yet when it comes to something that Europe cares about, you expect the US to do what best for you, whether it's what is best for America or not. Why?

programmer craig said...

Marcus, one more thing...

I mentioned before that I'm a Libertarian, and that may color my viewpoint, as I'm a bit of an isolationist. But most Americans are isolationists at heart, regardless of what you may see on the news over there.

I think the US is simply over-extended. We have way too much on our plate, and we are making ourselves "concerned parties" in virtually all of the world's problems. We need to clear away some of that excess baggage, and worry about the things that really matter to us. We fought many Cold War battles in Central and South America, for instance. We bled the communists pretty good there. But the citizens of those countries didn't much like it, and haven't really forgiven us for it yet. They are our neighbors, and it's important that the US has good relations with Latin America. I don't think the US has quite recovered from the Cold War mentality yet, even though I keep saying "The Cold War is over" - that's wishful thinking on my part.

Marcus said...

Craig

"Again, you place responsibility on the US to accommodate Turkey, and not on Turkey to accommodate the US. Do you believe the Turkish position is the correct one? Or is the American position the correct one?"

I was against the war from the beginning as you know by now so at that point, in the beginning, I would have sided with the Turkish decision not to support an invasion. Had I had a vote in the parlaiment of Turkey I would have voted against letting the US invade from our sovreign territory, knowing that by doing so I wasn't breaching any Nato agreement of any kind.

But that's history and perhaps not relevant in the current debate and it doesn't answer your question. So let's fast forward to now.

As far as the Kurdish "issue" today is concerned I think they, the US and Turkey, are BOTH taking the pragmatic approach so far.

The Turks know that it's a very dangerous precedent for a sovreign Kurdistan in Iraq as it might well inflame the fight with renewed and stronger calls for separatism in their own majority kurdish region. They are also fear that PKK will not only have a relative sanctuary but possibly the support of a nation state. Since Bazani has been taking photo ops with known PKK leaders this is not that far fetched. Look at it from their point of view and know that they feel about PKK the way you feel about Al Qaida. Of course they are concerned.

The US knows all this and doesn't want the Turks involved at all, certainly not invading the north of Iraq. So they are not encouraging the Kurds to press for secession. I rather suspect they are telling them NOT to go down that route, at least not yet.

programmer craig said...

Lynnette,

lol! Spoken like a true American. Now if only we can convince the Iraqis of that! :)

They already know, they've been watching guys with no shoes on their feet take on the "superpower" for years, haven't they? The only "insurmountable barriers" Iraqis have are the ones they create for themselves.

From an American standpoint, I agree. They are a member of NATO and as such have a mutual defense pact with us. It would be rather awkward if we were seen as abrogating that.

Yes. Is it not equally awkward for the Turks?

Your points about trade are good ones. That could be a major problem, in the short term. I don't really know how dependent Kurds are on the outside world for essentials like food, water, clothing. I'd even add electricity, internet access and phone service to the "essentials" in the modern world.

In the long term, none of their neighbors is so well off that they can easily dismiss an short and profitable trade route. Whichever country is willing to trade with the Kurds will have maximum profit, which will make it even more attractive for the others to compete. And I'm not talking about smuggling. The profit motive is nearly irresistible, even for state actors. Look how many nations willingly violate sanctions that they themselves put in place?

They are a small population and may run the risk of ending up another Gaza.

I don't think it would be like that. Gaza isn't even close to being self-sufficient. If the Kurds in Iraq were so easy to shut down, Saddam would have done it a long time ago.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Craig,

The only "insurmountable barriers" Iraqis have are the ones they create for themselves.

True. As you say, they seem to find it easier to take on a "superpower" then to try to reconcile amongst themselves. Or they did anyway. There have been some signs of a change of heart. But they have a long way to go.

Yes. Is it not equally awkward for the Turks?

Oh, yes indeed. And maybe that's why an all out invasion of Kurdistan is, hopefully, only a threat on their part. So embarrassing to possibly come up against a NATO ally on the battlefield. :)

In the long term, none of their neighbors is so well off that they can easily dismiss an short and profitable trade route.

Good point. It might be only a question of whether or not the Kurds could wait them out.

I don't think it would be like that. Gaza isn't even close to being self-sufficient.

Also true. Israel has them pretty tied up. At the moment nobody really has that kind of power over the Kurds. Although a shut off of trade via Turkey could pinch. I think that might be their largest trade route at the moment. I could be wrong, of course.

Oh dear, I see I have fallen into the trap of agreeing with you on all your points. Huh! Well, there goes that debate...

I should get back to work, anyway. :)

programmer craig said...

I was against the war from the beginning

So was I. And I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq for practical reasons, not moral ones, believe it or not. While I did believe Saddam was a bad guy and that the US should have taken him down during the Gulf War, and I did believe the US had a case for taking him down in 2003, I didn't believe Iraq was part of the War on Terror, which was the war we weer supposedly fighting. I did support the war once it was obvious we were committed to it, and I did that for both practical and moral reasons. No good purpose is served by opposing a war that's already started, in my opinion.

I would have sided with the Turkish decision not to support an invasion. Had I had a vote in the parlaiment of Turkey I would have voted against letting the US invade from our sovreign territory, knowing that by doing so I wasn't breaching any Nato agreement of any kind.

Do you believe that Turkey invading Iraqi Kurdistan would be in breach of any NATO agreements?

As far as the Kurdish "issue" today is concerned I think they, the US and Turkey, are BOTH taking the pragmatic approach so far.

But, that's not the issue. The concerned parties are the Kurds and the Turks. Not the Turks and the Americans. And what happens if the Kurds decide it's in their best interest to secede from Iraq, which they may very well do. Do you think Turkey has the right to dictate to Iraqi Kurds that they can't do that? Do you think Turkey has the right to INVADE if they do that? If Turkey does invade, do you think that would constitute a breach of the NATO charter? Do you think the US would be justified in intervening? Do you think US intervention if Turkey invades Iraqi Kurdistan would constitute a breach of the NATO charter? And finally, what can be done to prevent this from occurring, other than insisting that the US should step away?

And remember, Europeans stepped away when they had a similar crisis in the Balkans to try to resolve. We, Americans, had to fix that for you. Your recipe is not necessarily a good one.

The Turks know that it's a very dangerous precedent for a sovreign Kurdistan in Iraq as it might well inflame the fight with renewed and stronger calls for separatism in their own majority kurdish region.

Then perhaps Turkey should try to resolve it's internal problems with the Kurds. You aren't suggesting that Turkey's domestic problems give them legal authority to intervene in a foreign country, are you?

Look at it from their point of view and know that they feel about PKK the way you feel about Al Qaida. Of course they are concerned.

I don't think that they do feel the same way about the PKK that I feel about Al Qaeda. The Kurds in Turkey have been there for a long time, and are citizens. It may be more similar to the way the English felt about the IRA.

The US knows all this and doesn't want the Turks involved at all, certainly not invading the north of Iraq. So they are not encouraging the Kurds to press for secession. I rather suspect they are telling them NOT to go down that route, at least not yet.

I agree with you on this one.

Marcus said...

Craig

"And what happens if the Kurds decide it's in their best interest to secede from Iraq, which they may very well do. Do you think Turkey has the right to dictate to Iraqi Kurds that they can't do that?"

No, as a matter of fact I don't. So long as the Kurds are clear in stating that it concerns Iraqi Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan. The government in Baghdad would, however, have a legitimate reason to be against this which is also on the table.

"Do you think Turkey has the right to INVADE if they do that?"

Not automatically. But the situations becomes entirely different should there be evidence of PKK activity in the new Kurdish state aimed at Turkey, which there very likely will be.

"If Turkey does invade, do you think that would constitute a breach of the NATO charter?"

I'm not that familiar with the Nato charter but I would guess no. Why would it be?

"Do you think the US would be justified in intervening?"

That's a very open question and highly speculative since I don't think it would actually happen. But supposing it did. Well, then it would depend on the nature of the invasion I guess. If the Turks invaded across the border area into known PKK territory I see no reason for the US to intervene. If they launced an all out invasion all the way down to Kirkuk and there are US forces in the way I suppose an intervention could be forced. But I believe both Turkey and the US would never wish for this to happen.

"Do you think US intervention if Turkey invades Iraqi Kurdistan would constitute a breach of the NATO charter?"

Again I'm not familiar with the details but I would guess an intervention inside Iraqi Kurdistan would not be a breach but that attacking Turkey on their own soil would be.


"And finally, what can be done to prevent this from occurring, other than insisting that the US should step away?"

That the Kurds are smart enough not to play with fire and proclaim independence at this volatile point in time. Which I think they are. No matter how an aftermath of such a proclamation would play out I'm fairly certain it would not be for the better right now.

Jon said...

The debate is not about if the Iraqi Kurdistan secedes will the US support it. US support is the precondition for it to secede, because it needs a regional power patron to survive. The Kurds have a long history of finding patrons before they enter conflict, including the Soviets, Pahlavi Iran, Revolutionary Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the US.

Jon said...

I'll explain to you why Turkey is important.

On the NATO issue, Turkey is important because unlike many of the European members, it is eager to provide troops. It also has the unique benefit of being muslim, making their troops more tolerable in certain places.

Turkey first sent troops to help the US in Korea, where they developed a reputation for bravery. They sent troops right away to Lebanon for peacekeeping after the war with Israel, when nobody else wanted to. They also have a substantial force in Afghanistan.

Politically,
Turkey is important because of what it represents. It represent a country on the edge of the Middle East that is trying to reconcile Islam with democracy, that desperately wants to join the West, and has tried to embrace Western institutions. You can say what you want about Turkey, and it is not a liberal society in Western terms, but they are miles ahead of their neighbors. Candidates are allowed to win the free and open elections against the establishment, and except for a few red lines, Turkey's vibrant press thrives and reports freely. It is trying to be an impartial mediator between Israel and Palestine.

Yes, Turkey has skeletons in its closet. Its treatment of minorities has been abominable. But God knows the US has had its problems with minorities and nearly wiped out the Native Americans. Turkey has been paranoid of being broken up since its inception. It lives in a rough neighborhood. The PKK is a real terrorist organization that ravaged the country in the 80's and 90s. Once Turkey feels secure and confident, it will be able to overcome its problems.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Yes, Turkey has skeletons in its closet. Its treatment of minorities has been abominable. But God knows the US has had its problems with minorities and nearly wiped out the Native Americans. Turkey has been paranoid of being broken up since its inception. It lives in a rough neighborhood. The PKK is a real terrorist organization that ravaged the country in the 80's and 90s. Once Turkey feels secure and confident, it will be able to overcome its problems.

Strange, replace a few names and, to a certain extent, this could describe someone else in the region as well.

Maybe it's because of the neighborhood?

programmer craig said...

The North Atlantic Treaty

This is the preface to the NATO Charter:

The North Atlantic Treaty
Washington D.C. - 4 April 1949

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty :


The body of the treaty follows.

Article 1

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.


One needs go no fur5her than Article I to find that Turkey would be in violation of the NATO charter if it invaded Iraqi Kurdistan because of what Kurds did in Turkey. Iraqi Kurds are no more responsible for what Turkish Kurds do in Turkey, than Mexico is responsible for what Mexican-Americans do in the United States.

That would be a clear breach, Marcus. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

programmer craig said...

Again I'm not familiar with the details but I would guess an intervention inside Iraqi Kurdistan would not be a breach but that attacking Turkey on their own soil would be.

Nope, Marcus. Once war has broken out there can be no further breaches. Counter-invasions are pretty typical responses during wartime. Wars would never end, otherwise. The losing side has to actually lose, you know?

You didn't offer any concrete suggestions about how to prevent the situation from unraveling in that way. All you offered was wishful thinking. And your wishful thinking places the burden on the Kurds and on the US. Why? You act as if you think the Turks are the aggrieved party, is that so?

PS-No comment about the balkans?

Marcus said...

Craig:

"You didn't offer any concrete suggestions about how to prevent the situation from unraveling in that way. All you offered was wishful thinking."

Yes, which I believe will hold up actually. I'm not normally optimistic, certainly not about matters concerning the war in Iraq, but I don't think there'll be a Turkish invasion because I think all concened parties really wish to avoid it.

"And your wishful thinking places the burden on the Kurds and on the US. Why? You act as if you think the Turks are the aggrieved party, is that so?"

IF the Kurds proclaimed independence Turkey would be very alarmed. Also there would probably be a fierce internal Iraqi struggle over this, particularily over Kirkuk. So my main concern is the development should they decide to do so at all. I believe it would be reckless in the near future and I believe the US (perhaps not the public but the military/admin) feels this way also. That's why I feel the best way to avoid this is for the US to make it clear that it's not their will and the Kurds to show patience and for the moment work with what they've already got - regional autonomy. In this scenario the Turks really just have to stay out of it.

"PS-No comment about the balkans?"

It's a bit beside the topic at hand but since you asked it showed clearly that the EU is not ready to deal with larger international crisis situations. The beaurocracy is slow and splintered and there is no common "task force" that can be rapidly sent in. It was clear that action in the Balkans was necessary but the EU talked and then talked and finally talked some more. The EU is young and I think it's on the way to adressing these issues, for example there is a new EU rapid task force being set up. I hope it will be less dysfunctional in the future.

The Americans stepped in and did what was necessary. Which I believe is commendable, although I'm not that well tuned in to the particulars of that war.

programmer craig said...

Jon,

The debate is not about if the Iraqi Kurdistan secedes will the US support it. US support is the precondition for it to secede, because it needs a regional power patron to survive. The Kurds have a long history of finding patrons before they enter conflict, including the Soviets, Pahlavi Iran, Revolutionary Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the US.

The only part of this I agree with is that the Kurds have a long history :)

This is more wishful thinking. I thought you guys were the ones who were arguing for practicality?

On the NATO issue, Turkey is important because unlike many of the European members, it is eager to provide troops.

----------------

http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/11/01/ret.turkey.afghanistan/index.html

However, such deployment could spur protests in Turkey, where polls suggest more than 80 percent of Turks oppose troop deployment in Afghanistan.

--------------------

Or, maybe not so eager. And that story is from 2001, a year and a half before the US invaded Iraq.

It also has the unique benefit of being muslim, making their troops more tolerable in certain places.

Yeah, we could have used some in Iraq. You seem to be saying Turkey isn't European. Did you read the preface to the NATO charter that I put up? Being Muslim and non-European would seem to be inconsistent with NATO's stated purpose, as an alliance. That's really not worth arguing about I guess, but I don't view it as a plus that we may be looking at a possible conflict between members of NATO, and one of the members involved probably shouldn't have been allowed to join the alliance in the first place.

-------------

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

----------------

Having Turkey in NATO makes as much sense as having France in the Arab league. Not that there'd be anything WRONG with that :)

Turkey first sent troops to help the US in Korea, where they developed a reputation for bravery.

The Korean War was a UN mission. The Korean War and the first Gulf War are the only Wars the UN ever directly authorized.

http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/korean_war/3030651.html?featured=y&c=y

I checked on this, and it's unclear to me whether the 5000 troops Turkey sent to Korea participated in any Combat Operations. In any case, if you check that article, it seems the press had some fun with their mustaches and the big knives they carried and turned them into quite the heroic characters, shortly after their arrival.

It wasn't necessary for you to characterize the nature of the Turkish military. You could have just stated "they send troops to participate in the Korean War".

I now feel like I'm arguing with somebody who isn't objective.

They sent troops right away to Lebanon for peacekeeping after the war with Israel, when nobody else wanted to.

That isn't a plus in my book. Lebanon is not a candidate for peacekeeping missions, as far as I'm concerned. Lebanon does not have a good history with peacekeepers.

They also have a substantial force in Afghanistan.

OK. The Turkish public clearly and obviously opposed that deployment, going all the way back to 2001. That means the Turkish government wouldn't have sent those soldiers there, without receiving something in return. What did they get? US commitment to support Turkey's membership in the EU, perhaps? I honestly can't think of any reason why the US would care one way or another if Turkey joins the EU, and that may be the answer I was looking for.

Turkey is important because of what it represents. It represent a country on the edge of the Middle East that is trying to reconcile Islam with democracy, that desperately wants to join the West, and has tried to embrace Western institutions.

Romantic idealism aside, how does that matter to the US? Aren't you one of the ones who was arguing for emphasis on practicality and strategic considerations above all else?

You can say what you want about Turkey, and it is not a liberal society in Western terms, but they are miles ahead of their neighbors.

So that means nobody should care about their neighbors?

Candidates are allowed to win the free and open elections against the establishment, and except for a few red lines, Turkey's vibrant press thrives and reports freely. It is trying to be an impartial mediator between Israel and Palestine.

Again, this all seems like cheer-leading for Turkey.

Yes, Turkey has skeletons in its closet. Its treatment of minorities has been abominable.

There didn't have to be a "But" after that. You could have just stopped :)

The PKK is a real terrorist organization that ravaged the country in the 80's and 90s. Once Turkey feels secure and confident, it will be able to overcome its problems.

More wishful thinking. People who ignore or avoid their problems, never become secure and confident.

programmer craig said...

Hey Marcus,

Yes, which I believe will hold up actually. I'm not normally optimistic, certainly not about matters concerning the war in Iraq, but I don't think there'll be a Turkish invasion because I think all concened parties really wish to avoid it.

Are you excluding Turkey as one of those "concerned parties"? Because they've been threatening an invasion if the Kurds secede, from the beginning. Those aren't the actions of a nation that wishes to avoid conflict. That's aggressive and pugnacious behavior, especially considering the history Turkey has with the Kurds.

Are you really relying on the maturity and sound judgment of Americans and Kurds, or are you relying on an opinion that the US always takes the easy way out and never goes the whole distance for it's friends?

Because if it's the latter, we're going to surprise you one of these days, and it sounds like you may not be too happy with that :)

IF the Kurds proclaimed independence Turkey would be very alarmed.

That isn't what I asked you. I asked you if you felt Turkey was the aggrieved party. If I went to my neighbors house and beat the shit out of him, I'd be very alarmed if a bunch of his friends showed up a little while later. What bearing would that have on whether or not I was in the right?

Also there would probably be a fierce internal Iraqi struggle over this, particularily over Kirkuk.

Yes, and that's a whole different can of worms. But at least that scenario doesn't involve a third party involving itself in something that is none of it's affair.

So my main concern is the development should they decide to do so at all. I believe it would be reckless in the near future and I believe the US (perhaps not the public but the military/admin) feels this way also.

Reckless? In Iraq? What isn't? People get killed for wearing the wrong clothes in Iraq.

I agree with you that it's not in US interests (or Iraq's interests as a country) for the Kurd's to secede.

That's why I feel the best way to avoid this is for the US to make it clear that it's not their will and the Kurds to show patience and for the moment work with what they've already got - regional autonomy. In this scenario the Turks really just have to stay out of it.

Yes, but why would the Turks feel that they didn't have to stay out of it, regardless? That's the point I'm interested in. And why don't you (and others who share your views) feel that the Turks have to stay out of it. The US has been taking a lot of heat for dubious actions, including from you most likely... here you have a scenario in which the Turks would clearly be violating not just the NATO charter, but the UN Charter, and every existing concept of "just war" and you think that's just fine, and that everyone else should just step away and let them do it if it goes down like that.

It's a bit beside the topic at hand but since you asked it showed clearly that the EU is not ready to deal with larger international crisis situations.

But you're ready to tell the US that it should handle a similar crisis in the same way that you did. When those methods ended in a disaster, last time.

The beaurocracy is slow and splintered and there is no common "task force" that can be rapidly sent in.

But you are saying that if the same happens in Kurdistan, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, that everyone should do nothing. Aren't you? And in the Balkans, Europeans did nothing. If you'd had a "task force" that could have been "rapidly sent in" (which you actually did) you yourself wouldn't have sent it in, anyway.

It was clear that action in the Balkans was necessary but the EU talked and then talked and finally talked some more. The EU is young and I think it's on the way to adressing these issues, for example there is a new EU rapid task force being set up. I hope it will be less dysfunctional in the future.

So do I, but based on your commentary here, I doubt it. How old were you when all that went down? Were you waiting for the maturity and the good judgment of the Croatians, Bosnians, Serbs and Kosovars to prevail?

I don't mean to be judgmental, but this situation with the Kurds seems to have a lot of similarities. And you do seem to be arguing that the best course of action for the US if it does go down that way, is inaction.

The Americans stepped in and did what was necessary. Which I believe is commendable, although I'm not that well tuned in to the particulars of that war.

Thank you. But it wouldn't be commendable, in the middle east?

Proud to B iRaQi Percioues said...

Why day wann change da iraqi flag anyways its das best flag i've ever seen..does kurdish haters need to go head and kick the rock coZ dey anit gone change flag of iraq...n y is tukey in diZ ??? Most time u ask a kurdish where dey from ?? Kurdistan?/ where is that at??i mean is it i country??no
no but it has a flag and a languge??
Most of does fucken Kurdish need i learn history And i'm trying talk bout all da dim..Coz some are ma friends...but ma kurdish friends say there from there from..and they a 5 star right!!!

Proud to B iRaQi Percioues said...

Why day wann change da iraqi flag anyways its das best flag i've ever seen..does kurdish haters need to go head and kick the rock coZ dey anit gone change flag of iraq...n y is tukey in diZ ??? Most time u ask a kurdish where dey from ?? Kurdistan?/ where is that at??i mean is it i country??no
no but it has a flag and a languge??
Most of does fucken Kurdish need learn history And i'm trying talk bout all da dim..Coz some are ma friends...but ma kurdish friends say there from there from..and they a 5 star right!!!

Jon said...

Craig, its practical to support countries support your values (democracy, separation of church and state, free press, etc) rather than invade to support them. Of course, thats what makes this issue so tricky, is because the KRG also represents many of those values.

Anonymous said...

As a European I said a full no to Turkey joining the EU

http://it.rayezlaturquie.com/images/euro.gif

They're simply not Europeans and they should not join EU.
Full support to the Indo-Europeans Kurds wherever they are.
Free Kurdistan!

Anonymous said...

It is stupid, snide comments and the intolerance of arabs and turks that drives Kurds to try and establish their own homeland. Quit beign such a bitch, you arab arsewipe.

Anonymous said...

Actually your flag should have the word "damm" (blood on it) because no place on earth has produced more bloodthirsty people than Mesopotamia. Assyrian, Babylonian and Chaldean cruelty has already been mentioned in the Bible. To make matters worse you became Arabs and Muslims. What kind of human would kill Faisal II and his entire family? What kind of human would do what was done to Nuri as-Saeed? Look at your history and how Kasem, Aref and the rest of the gang died. And Hassan al-Bakr the figurehead was poisoned by Saddam, but it was called a heart attack. Your entire history is written in blood, and you are the epitome of the word bloodsucker, violence and animalism. Look what you did to Kurds in Halabja. And you can't fight like men, you either have to use chemical weapons, use IEDs or hide in mosques like cowards. You are not human beings, you just resemble humans, and are animals. Cradle of Civilisation? I think not!

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