Kurdistan and the Greater Middle East
The first point that must be considered is the identity of the Kurds. The modern world features a complex model of understanding the differences between the nation and people. The nation is a political notion, while the people is a historical one. Not all people can turn into a nation, just as not all nations consist of one particular people. For example, we have the Belgian nation which consists of Walloons and Flemings which represent different ethnic groups.
There are Kurds who, of course, represent a people. It is very important that, in terms of cultural unity, the Kurds make up an integral whole wherever they live, whether in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, or Iran. The Kurds are undoubtedly a people, and their status must be recognized by all the states and political nations in which Kurds find themselves.
Allow me to reiterate the definition of “the people” that I use in my books. The people is a unity of people, who are united by historical destiny. It is unity of destiny that defines a people, not unity of ethnic roots or religion. Of course, language and culture play a very important role, but history is the essential point of unification, as humans speaking one specific language do so for historical reasons. Thus, the Kurds are a people united by historical destiny, culture, and language.
In terms of being a “people”, the Kurds are formed by historical unity. However, peoples can exist without a state and without a nation for more than hundreds of years. The nation is a political notion of the modern era. The national structure of the state became the basic form of the political unit in Europe starting with the Reformation in 16th century. The nation-state is a society consisting of individual citizens where other traits of the people are borrowed from the most numerous one and attributed to the others. If in traditional ethnic groups humans spoke the language they wanted to, then in nation-states they have to speak one particular one. This model for uniting groups into one whole society appears at the same time that citizens came to be traditionally divided on a class basis. Therefore, political nations are a bourgeois phenomenon.
The Kurdish issue lies in that the Kurdish people, which exists for sure, are now imitating or following other peoples, for example, the Arab states or Turkey, in trying to create their own state in order to turn into a nation. This shift from a people to a nation is the most problematic as it gives rise to new problems for the other nations in Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
Of course, if we examine this issue more precisely, then we see that the existence of the nation-state in Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq is an artificial construction. A long time ago, these states were part of empires, such as the Assyrian, Sumerian, Persian, and Ottoman ones. The nation-state is the reduced form of an empire that was created within the framework of modern history.
After not having faced any problems in the imperial period, the Kurds then found themselves in a situation divided between several post-imperial formations. Only when other neighboring peoples transformed into nation-states did the issue of a Kurdish nation-state, Kurdistan, appear.
Naturally, this gave rise to confrontation in all the countries where Kurds live. In Iraq, during Saddam Hussein’s reign, they were persecuted for this. Once Turkey was built into a nation-state, serious friction broke out such as the fight between the PKK and Turkey. In Syria and Iran, this issue posed less of a problem. At one point, the Kurds of all four states began to develop a Kurdish state-building project. The more consistently that this project was affirmed, the greater the contradiction became in the existing nation-states in which Kurds found themselves. This is the political basis of the Kurdish issue.
In fact, although the British did not particularly consider the Kurdish factor in the post-colonial era, the British did work with the Kurds to solve certain specific problems related to the reorganization of the post-colonial world and weakening the Ottoman Empire. But in any case, the Kurds turned out to be a people that could not build a nation-state in the post-colonial period. But now they want to.
During a review of Middle East policy, and especially upon the Americans’ announcement of the project for creating the “Greater Middle East” (which Condoleezza Rice presented in Ankara in 2002), the Americans offered their support in creating a Kurdish nation-state. This is the same neo-colonial policy of the Western countries from before. But now it is not the English but the Americans, the USA, which has decided to redraw the map of nation-states in the Middle East and create a Kurdish state.
Thus, the supporters of the creation of a Kurdish nation-state automatically became US allies or instruments. The only country in the world which promised the Kurds to create a state was America. The Americans used the Kurds for their own purposes. But what were their real goals?
First of all, the Americans supported the Kurds in Iraq. Since Saddam Hussein was not a very agreeable partner for the US and he periodically pursued a national policy based on the Sunni population, the Kurds and Iraqi Shiites became outcasts in this government system. Insofar as the Americans needed to put pressure on Saddam, they supported Kurdish separatists in order to shake up the situation in Iraq. Kurdish support played an important role during the American invasion, Hussein’s overthrow, and his execution. In this case, the Kurds acted as a mere US fifth column in the invasion of Iraq.
The situation with the Kurds in Turkey was completely different as long as the Turks obediently followed American policies. The Turkish Kurds, on the other hand, were considered enemies by the Americans, and were supported by the Soviet Union by inertia in the Cold War. Hence, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was founded. Why do they have such a name? After all, they had nothing to do with communism or the Soviet style of government, but used this name simply in accordance with geopolitical logic, as they lacked any other support. Thus, the PKK was created to defend its own interests with the support of the Soviet Union.
The situation changed dramatically in the 2000’s, when Turkey ceased to orient itself solely towards the US and became more concerned about the preservation of its territorial integrity and strengthening its nation-state. In fact, whenever the Kemalist tendency was strong, the tension between Turkey and Russia disappeared and the United States initiated cooperation with the Turkish Kurds. Then the “Kurdistan” project began in connection to the Americans’ need to keep their freedom-loving junior partner, Turkey, under control. The Kurdish factor was used by the Americans to put pressure on Ankara.
The Americans started took the Kurdish factor into their hands when the Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran drew the attention of US intelligence agencies and the “Kurdistan” project became an important strategic direction of US policy. Syrian Kurds are oriented towards the US and have received support from them in the civil war, while Iraqi Kurds are also under the direct control of Washington. The Turkish Kurds are managed by the Americans both directly through agents and indirectly through a segment of an American and British spy network inside the Turkish military leadership and within the Turkish secret services. Controlling the Kurds is complex insofar as they are so heterogeneous. The Americans gradually, step by step, raised the Kurdish factor whenever they needed to influence on Ankara. Now that the Americans have written off Erdogan over his unpredictable behavior, we can predict that the Kurds will be increasingly actively employed in realizing American policies as well as in organizing terrorist activity. It is in this context that the PKK, having suffered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has gradually come under US control due to its anti-Turkish orientation. Russia has practically no reason to carry out operations inside Turkey aimed at destabilization through the Kurds’ efforts, but America, on the contrary, has such a motivation.
We can now see that the Kurdish world, in which the Kurds represent a people, is used by the Americans as an instrument to realize their interests. Firstly, in economic terms, the Kurdish territory in Iraq is rich in oil. Secondly, the Kurds control the main sources and supply of water in Iraq. The Kurds can therefore be used to manage very serious environmental and even geopolitical processes in the region.
Thus, the Kurds play an important role in geopolitical games today. They have two geopolitical choices:
1. The first is building a nation-state. This can be done only with the support of the US, which sees many strategic benefits in this process even if it will never attain the actual result of a Kurdish state. A Kurdish nation-state project could be directed against Assad, manipulated to contain Erdogan, damage Iran, and monitor Kurdish Iraq. Hence why the current supporters of a Kurdish nation-state are doomed to becoming instruments of the US in its pursuit of regional policy objectives. This orientation is confirmed by the Yazidi Kurds so active in Europe and more passive in the United States. US intelligence agencies, under the pretext of developing a Yazidi identity among the Kurdish population, are using the most important and paradigmatic core of the Kurdish population to carry out US projects.
Direct contact between the American and British secret services and the Israeli leadership, altogether the conductors of the greater Atlanticist geopolitical strategy, gives impulse to supporting the establishment of Kurdistan. In present circumstances, Kurdistan is therefore an Atlanticist project.
2. The second possible choice is developing the Kurdish identity without creating a nation-state, but by insisting on certain autonomous rights. This suits the more multi-dimensional part of the Kurdish population, which is characterized by large differences between its radical and moderate wings and opinions, its political, ideological, and religious movements, and even its inclusion of Sufi organizations which represent a wide spectrum of the Kurds who can be called reasonable and not tools of US intelligence agencies.
These Kurds can find their place in the Eurasian project of reorganizing the balance of power in the Middle East.
They can be loyal, for example, to the Turkish Kemalist course which will be implemented if Turkey turns against NATO and grows closer to Russia. Then, within the framework of the Eurasian model, all nations, regardless of whether they are states or not, will receive a special form of protection, as is in the case of Russia itself, an empire with numerous national minorities. Other Eurasian powers are also multiethnic, so the protection of these ethnic groups or peoples within the framework of the Eurasian project will be a priority. Many cultural, civilizational, religious, and ethnic problems can be solved if the stance of Eurasianism is adopted. Of course, this position will require certain concessions on the part of Turkish politicians, but of a completely different quality.
I say that in no case should the Kurdish national identity be undermined. It must be supported, but by clearly separating it from the extremist and pro-American Atlanticist project of the Kurdish nation-state. Eurasian tendencies exist among the Kurdish people. The Eurasian path means giving up serving the US as a puppet and not insisting on the establishment of a nation-state, which now can only exist under the aegis of America and would be directed against Eurasian and traditional powers such as Syria, Kemalist Turkey, traditional Iran and, of course, dismembered Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds need serious protection that the Americans will not be able to provide without creating Kurdistan as a stumbling block for all other peoples. At the same time, all the regional forces, such as Turkey, Iran, and Syria, together with Russia as a major partner of the Eurasian configuration, can commit to ensuring freedom and independence for the Iraqi Kurds within the framework of a Eurasian policy. In any case, those Kurds who stand on the Eurasian path and will defend their identity in the context of a multipolar world have the chance to achieve their historical aims peacefully.
The last factor which we should pay attention to is another force that has appeared as part of the Greater Middle East project and which has started to play a key role in the fate of the Kurds and the whole region. I have in mind the Islamic State which represents radical Islamism of the radical Wahhabi or Salafist Sunni type. Behind this force stand Saudi Arabia and Qatar as the two basic forces directing this movement. This force is the most terrible threat to the existence of the Kurds, Syria, Iraq and Turkey, as it is yet another tool of US policy for destroying the balance of forces in the Middle East.
This factor of radical Arab Sunnism is a terrorist threat as it is they who are responsible for the direct genocide of Kurds. They have subjected Turkish positions to attack, seek to overthrow the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad, and they are fighting against Russia.
Here is a very interesting point. Today, the Islamic State is perhaps the most terrible threat for the Kurds that one could imagine - not Assad, Ankara, Tehran, which is loyal to Iranian Kurds, nor the Kurdish-Shiite coalition Iraq. All of these actors are in fact either loyal to the Kurds or have only limited claims against them. The Islamist terrorists of the Arab-Wahhabi Sunni type are an existential threat to the Kurds. They have subjected the Kurds to direct, total genocide, especially the Yazidis.
The same force that stands behind both the Islamic State and the Kurdish nation-state is the United States. Both of these trends are a consequence of the Greater Middle East plan which has resulted in Iraq’s collapse, Libya’s destruction, the bloody conflict in Syria, and the challenge against Turkey.
Do the Kurds understand that, in fact, the same forces that support them also created, armed, and supported ISIS, which is carrying out genocide against them? What a good partner the US is, creating ISIS to attain their objectives in the region and thereby standing behind those who are massacring the Kurds. This is a very important fact.
All Kurds need to understand that the construction of a nation-state with the United States’ support is impossible. This means no more nor less than the transformation of civil war, terrorism, and genocide into an endless process which could very well lead to the destruction of the Kurdish people. Participation in the American plan as a tool and adopting Western support is suicide for the Kurds.
What should they do? Follow the Americans or merely accept existing conditions and adapt to them? Both scenarios are deadly. A different path is needed.
I think that it is now necessary to appeal to the concept of Eurasianism. It is necessary to adapt the Eurasian model for Kurdistan. We must talk about the integration of the Kurdish people as a united historical community and its participation in the construction of the Eurasian project. This will involve a complete severing of relations with the Americans and the establishment of a long-term strategic union with Russia as a guarantor of world order. At the same time, with Russia’s help, the Kurds might be able to find a status quo with Ankara. In this situation, all the tension with Iran would be relieved and we could discuss the creation of a Kurdish-Shiite state or regions. All the current components of a Kurdish state could be considered as part of the Eurasian project.
Then the Kurds would have only one enemy: ISIS. Examining the surrounding countries in the region, ISIS is also the enemy of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Russia. If the Kurds want to defeat their real enemy, terrorism, then they must look for partners even among those states with which they have not always enjoyed good relations. The Kurds should join the anti-ISIS coalition in the Middle East. At the head of this coalition could be the Russian nuclear superpower, which is neutral and unbiased in relation to these historical details, and which is the stronghold of Eurasian civilization, the main guarantor of the multipolar Eurasian system that is waging war against ISIS.