U.S., Turkey and Iran pressuring KDP to postpone independence referendum, expert tells Kurdpress
Within its effort to shed light on different Kurdish issues in the Middle East through talking to experts in Kurdish issue, Kurdpress discussed the latest regional developments related to the issue with David Romano, a political science expert in U.S. Missouri State University who holds the Thomas G. Strong Chair in Middle East policy in the university.

The author of “Kurdish Nationalism Movement,” the analyst believes the new U.S. government will continue its support to Kurds in Iraq and Syria. He stated that Turkey’s violation of the Kurdish right has reached it acme, reiterating that Ankara cannot defeat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militarily and solve Kurdish question while the party is has more arms than before. The political science professor added believes that the U.S., Iran and Turkey are pressuring the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to postpone independence referendum.

Given the Fact that newly elected U.S. president Donald Trump compared to Obama, seems to have betterties with Russia, what Policy will Trump take in Syria? How likely it is to leave the country for Russia?

I think there is definitely an increased likelihood that the U.S. cooperates more with Russia in Syria – meaning that they work together against ISIS, and U.S. support for rebels actively fighting the Assad regime ends.

Will U.S. support to Iraqi Kurds continue? And in what level it is going to be?

I think U.S. support for both Iraqi and Syrian Kurds will continue under a Trump administration. There is even likely to be more American support for Kurdish independence – possibly in the form of some kind of confederation but perhaps more – under a Trump and Republican administration. Although one of Mr. Trumps security advisors-to-be wrote a very pro-Turkey op-ed on election day, one should not make too much of this. On a personal level, Mr. Flynn will be anxious to distance himself from accusations of paid lobbying for Turkey, and the Republicans in general have appeared a bit more willing to “rock the boat” regarding significant changes in the Middle East – which would include the prospect of a Kurdish state.

What do you think about Russia’s support to Kurds, particularly in Syria and turkey?

This is a big unknown. Russia supports Assad and is also pursuing better relations with Turkey, but Moscow also views the Kurds in Syria as a useful tool. It’s really hard to say what they will do.

Considering financialCrisis and politicalTensionbetween Kurdish parties in Kurdistan Region, is it possible to conduct independence Referendum or better to say, can Iraqi Kurds finally reach independence?

I believe a referendum on independence is an important step that would force all the Kurdish parties to make their present view clear. It would also strengthen the Kurds’ case for independence, since we know that a large majority of Kurdistan’s population favors independence. Behind the scenes it is quite likely that Tehran, Washington and Ankara are all exerting heavy pressure on the KDP not to call such a referendum any time soon, however.

Can Kurds take disputed areas from Baghdad? Do you think there will be a war between KRG and Baghdad over disputed areas?

I don’t think either side wants a war over the issue. The Kurds can probably keep most of the disputed areas, but it would make it a lot easier for Abadi in Baghdad to compromise if some territories were returned to Baghdad’s control. Abadi has rivals waiting, including Nuri al-Maliki, and he cannot appear too weak in his dealings with others. I think personally he is willing to compromise, but there are limits as to what he can do.

What do you think about the reasons for disputes between KDP and PKK? What is the main problem between them?

They are very different movements, and the PKK has a much more “pan-Kurdish” policy than the more cautious KDP. Given this, the KDP and PKK compete for leadership of the Kurdish movement especially in Iraq, but also symbolically elsewhere. The PKK in both its discourse and actions in places like Shingal challenges the legitimacy of the KDP. The KDP is also under pressure more from Turkey regarding the PKK.

U.S. has supported both Syrian Kurds and Iraqi KurdsagaintISIS, Do you believe the newly elected president Donald Trump continue current U.S policy and support them?

Yes, for as long as ISIS is on the scene.

Can we foresee U.S presence in KRG for along time or will be there a U.S permanent military base in KRG?

That’s hard to say. If U.S.-Turkey relations sour further under a Trump administration and Erdogan presidency, something which I think is fairly likely, then Washington may start to look for more options to replace Incirlik. Iraqi Kurdistan is one such option.

What you think about Iraqi Kurds’ relations with Iran and turkey in future? We know that KDP has a good relation with Turkey but PUK criticizes Turks stance against Kurds, especially in Turkey and Syria.

It is important for the KRG to keep relations with both Turkey and Iran reasonably good. Since a long time, the KDP has been closer to Turkey and the PUK closer to Iran. Geography probably explains this, given the locations of each party’s “home area”. Reactivating the Kurdistan Parliament will probably help in this area, since it will give both Turkey and Iran an institutionalized, peaceful way to lobby their preferences via the Kurdistan political parties they are close to.

Do you think Syrian Kurds can reach independence or what would the situation be like in that part of Syria?

I think they can attain de facto autonomy like they have now for at least several years. The longer this endures, the more likely it will be to keep enduring – just like Iraqi Kurdish autonomy eventually became a recognized fact. A lot depends on the balance of power in Syria, of course, and their autonomy will be fragile and under threat for some time to come.

How U.S can manage Turkey and Syrian Kurd’s conflicts- Turkey as a partner and Kurds as an agent against ISIS?

With great difficulty. As I write this, PYD and Turkish forces in Syria are still occasionally skirmishing. There may not be a way to square this circle – Turkey has turned away from negotiations with the PKK and does not appear interested in resuming them, and given PKK-PYD links, Turkey defines the PYD as a mortal threat. The PYD, meanwhile cannot reasonably meet any of Turkey’s demands, which kind of amount to “stop existing.” Behind closed doors the U.S. administration is probably trying to brandish various carrots towards Turkey in return for Turkey stopping its molestation of the PYD in Syria, but I’m not sure if Washington is also brandishing various sticks at its disposal – it could threaten Ankara to arm the PYD much more robustly, for instance, if Ankara does not stay its hand in Syria.

Would world powers and countries like Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria agree with border changes and creating new states in Iraq and Syria?

No. The only way to make them agree is to present them with a fait accomplit. They will never agree before the fact, but they may agree after when they have little other choice. The one exception here is Baghdad – it is possible for the Kurds to negotiate secession with Baghdad, at which point the other states would have no choice but to agree. Like all negotiations, this would require serious compromises from both sides.

Do you see any end in Turkey and PKK tensions?

I don’t think Ankara can end this militarily. They can defeat the PKK in every battle, but still lose the war if the willingness to fight on the PKK side outlasts the appetite for such a war on the Turkish side. Judging from the PKK’s humble origins in the late 1970s to a 4 decades long insurgency that NATO’s second largest army could not crush once and for all, that willingness of the PKK and its supporters appears to be there. The average Turk in Ankara, Izmir or Istanbul, on the other hand, may start blaming the government if things grind on too long, and ask about other ways out of the conflict.

I also suspect Turkey is headed for even more serious economic troubles, which may lead to a situation where the state has overextended itself on several fronts. Ankara’s foreign policy has severely shrunk its list of reliable friends. If these problems continue and feed upon each other, there may come a point where this internal war is just too costly.

The most desirable end to this war would have been that the PKK lays down its arms and Turkey democratizes enough to allow the possibility of more decentralization and group rights for people like the Kurds, even permitting former PKK people into the institutional political system (which is better than the mountains). People thought that was where things were going between March 2013 and July 2015. Unfortunately that is not where things are now, and not likely to happen on either end anytime soon. Todayin Turkey even individual rights, much less group rights, have regressed to a point worse than anything seen in decades, which helps the PKK in its rhetoric for the need for “armed struggle,” and the PKK is better armed than ever.

 

News Code: 14762  |  Date: 2016/12/10  |  Time: 9 : 43

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