Kurdistan as an Independent State in Iraq and the Turkish position


Term Paper, 2014

11 Pages, Grade: 90/100


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Table of contents

Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Issue definition Problem Description

3. The Kurds - Background
3.1. Kurdish minority in Turkey

4. Turkeys Diplomatic relations
4.1 Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Iraq
4.2 Diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq

5. The Turkish Foreign Policy and its Home Affairs: Goals and Interests
Characterization of vital national interests of Turkeys policies
Challenges

6. Policy Recommendations

Bibliography

Executive summary

Kurdistan, the “Land of the Kurds”, is a roughly defined geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population. Their settlement area is distributed in four states Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

A terrorist Kurdish faction in southeastern Turkey wreaks havoc on the Turkish governments attempt to give minority right to Kurdish people in Turkeyin order to satisfy EU ascension agreements.

This acting poses threats to Turkey’s internal stability, border-security, and the ascension to the EU.

In addition, the recent political events of in Iraq have a significant impact for the local Kurdish minority and for the relations between Turkey and Iraq.

This policy paper analyzes the diversification of the Turkish-Iraqi relations according to the Kurdish endeavors to establish an independent Kurdish state in Iraq and its regional geopolitical risks.

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The essay carves out the Turkish position to the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. After an introduction into the subject, the paper gives an issue definition and describes the problems regarding the demand for independence of the Iraqi Kurds. It gives a short overview about the background of the Kurdish minority in Turkey in chapter 2 and analyzes then the relations between Turkey and Iraq as well as between Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq. The essay then characterizes the national interests and goals of the Turkish foreign policy and its home affairs. The paper defines the challenges to implement the interests of the Turkish republic and gives finally eight recommendations for the Turkish policies.

Fig.1: Area of Kurdish settlement

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1. Introduction

Since founding the state of Iraq in 1920 no common national identification of the three major inherent ethnic groups, Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis came to pass. This lack of national unity was space for radical Islamic power aspirations. The aftermath is tensions and disputes and a resumption of violence; the clashes increased in sharpness in the last months. Kurdish leaders are strengthening their position while hoping a game-changing crisis might break down post-Ottoman boundaries and dramatically alter state structures and policies in the Middle East[1].

One of the consequences of the Kurds stronger position is the increasing demand of the Kurds in Iraq for their independence; the aspiration to establish an independent Kurdish state in Iraq is gaining momentum.

On the one hand, this impacts the diplomatic relations of the Republic of Iraq and the Turkish Republic; on the other hand, it impacts the domestic policies in Turkey because of the internal tensions with Kurds in Turkey. The future of the Kurds is seen as a vital national security issue for Turkey.

Problem Description

Turkey traditionally had broadly cooperative economic andpolitical relations with the republic of Iraq[2].

The establishment of an independent Kurdish state in Iraq threatens the diplomatic relations with Iraq as well as the domestic policies in Turkey according to the Kurdish minority in Turkey.

The interests of the Republic of Turkey are partially conflicting. Turkey has significant economic interests and wants to strengthen its economy through business in energy and trade with Northern Iraq; on the other hand, the economic blossoming of the Kurds in Iraq poses a threat, because it increases their political status[3]. Iraq should remain united and Kurds should remain an integral part of the country, lest Turkey’s own Kurds envision that they, too, can move toward greater autonomy and statehood, what has to be prevented in any case.

3. The Kurds –Background

During the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Treaty of Lausanne defined the division of Kurdistan by the Allies and Turkey on the four states of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

Contemporary use of Kurdistan refers to large parts of northern Iraq (5 million Kurds), northwestern Iran (5m), northeastern Syria (1m) and eastern Turkey with the biggest number of 10-15 million Kurdish inhabitants, representing more than half of the Kurdish citizens[4].

Kurdish culture, language, and national identity have historic rootsUp to the time of the First World War, the Kurdish consciousness was affected partly by the tribe and on the other hand by the Sunni Islam. InfluencedbyEuropean ideas they then developed their own national aspiration. The fact that the Kurds do not have an own independent state but rather live divided into several states causes a lot of tension and contraction; the conflict remains an endemic source of political instability not only in Turkey, but also in the neighboring Middle East states[5].

Indeed is has to be stressed that the Intra-Kurdish policies are not harmonic; they are imbeddedwith tensions and rivalries as well.

3.1 Kurdish minority in Turkey

The relevanceof the Kurdish settlement area in Turkeyfor the Turkish state results mainly from the Turkish geostrategic position: the Turkish Republic would not have access to the south-eastern boarders of the Arab nations Iraq, Iran and Syria, a significant degrade for the country according to economic and diplomatic reasons.

The struggle for Kurdish homeland is as old as the Turkish Republic[6]. Since the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the government continuously endeavored to assimilate the Kurdish population into the nationalistic politics. The Kurds regarded the Turkish politics as a provocation and revolted against the assimilation; the climate became hostile[7]. Since the inception of the Kurdish workers Party (PKK) on 27th November 1978 by Abdullah Öcalan in Ankara, the organization has grown rapidly, with thousands of armed people fighting under its banner for a sovereign Kurdistan.The EU, the US, Turkey and others classify the organization as a terrorist and drug smuggling organization[8]. After the beginning of the armed conflict 1984 against the Turkish state, the situation of the Kurdish population in Turkey degraded: until the

Guerrilla war ended in the 90ies, itinduced more than 40.000 deaths, many of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes[9].

To curtail the growing presence of PKK, the Turks arrested A. Öcalan in 1999; the climate improved and got less violent. RecepTayyipErdogan(AKP[10] ) came to power with a less nationalistic profile and offering more dialogue to solve identity and political issues such as the Kurdish question. Using religion as a unifying tool of all national groups, since Islam is the religion of the majority population of the Turkish state, AKPhas won support, even among Kurdish voters[11]. The party promoted a democratization process in Turkey[12].

4. Turkeys Diplomatic relations

4.1 Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Iraq

The republic of Turkey has long been interest in the protection of the territorial integrity of Iraq; the country is a transfer country for Turkish commodity to the Arabian Peninsula.The countries traditionally had good and

closediplomatic and trade relations. Turkey has heavily invested in Arab Iraq; pressing Turkish business to trade and invest throughout the country; establishing a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (Iraqi and Turkish ministers) in 2008; and signing 48 agreements with the government in 2009 on energy, security and economic cooperation[13]. Iraq needs a lot of infrastructure; Turkey wants to play a moderating role in Iraq with his soft power[14].:Turkish businessmen seek to take advantage of the constitution; the government seeks to influence Iraqspolitics by giving facilities.

The Syrian War (breakout 2011) caused a sectarian divide between Iraq and Turkey[15] ; the relations became more difficult[16].

Also the Kurdish conflict caused several diplomatic spats between Ankara and Baghdad, because the PKK operated from Iraqi state territory.

4.2Diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq

After several internal power struggles, military coups, wars and tensions in the region and thousands of Kurdish victims, the Iraqi Kurds held parliamentary elections after Gulf War I and established the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in 1992.

The northern, Kurdish part of Iraq went through a rapid economic blossoming (post-2003, but especially post-2008)[17]. Thanks to relative peace in the last 15 years, the economy in KRG areas is more developed than in other parts of Iraq[18]. The Turkeys foreign policy made a U-turn[19]: Turkish business expanded their investments and trade[20] and the KRG- region became one of the most important consumers of Turkish exports[21]. Ankara is also hopeful of stable oil imports from the Iraqi-Kurdish region, as well as revenue as a transfer country for Kurdish oil on its way to the world market. Several month ago a million barrels of crude oil were transported from northern Iraq, which had been sent via the pipeline to Turkey and pumped into a tanker[22].

5. The Turkish Foreign Policy and its Home Affairs: Goals and Interests

According to its geographical location, the Republic of Turkey defines itself as a “bridge country” and is orientated in two directions: On the one hand, the country has a significant orientation to the West and pursues membership in the EU; on the other hand, its diplomacy leans its focus toward the Middle East.

The energy-poor country wants not only to buy (Kurdish) oil and gas for its own use but also to become a vital hydrocarbons transit corridor for Europe and the Middle East. In particular, seeking to take advantage of Europe´s desire to lessen dependence on Russian gas, it has participated in discussions on various gas pipeline options for the Caucasian and Middle Eastern markets[23]. This aspiration aims to earn transfer taxes as state income as well as taking up an enhanced position in international diplomacy.

Characterization of vital national interests of Turkeys policies

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The interests of Turkey are conflicting and need to be analyzed to lead to a consistent, homogeneous acting that guarantees its successful implementation. The paradox should be illustrated once again: Turkey has significant economic interests in Iraq.

Yet the economic benefit of the cooperation with Iraqi Kurds implements several risks:First the risks of degraded relations with Iraq;

Secondary, the improved economic status of the Iraqi Kurds facilitates their aspirations for an autonomic state.These aspirations have to be impeded by all means, because anautonomous state of the Kurds in Iraqwill stimulate the Turkish Kurds for pursuing their autonomy as well. This poses a high risk and cannot be accepted in any case by Turkish policies, because the settlement area of the Kurds in Turkey has a significant geostrategic importance for the Turkish state.

Challenges

The Kurdish question can no longer be portrayed as solely a terrorist problem, as had been the case in earlier decades, because the Kurds have fashioned a genuine national movement with legal parties and institutions that gained strong popular support. The international attention and sympathy bears pressure on Ankara to solve the Kurdish domestic problems peacefully[26]. The Kurdish issue became widely debated in public life. Although the democratization process promoted by the AKP focused on the solution of the disunity, Turkey’s declarations and actions in the past were confusing and Out of alignment. The military routeof nearly 30 years was unsuccessful to prevent the growing status of the Kurds. The new strategy has to promote the Kurdish status for the Turkish benefit.

Resulting from this the Turkish politics has to implement a clear strategy regarding the demand for autonomy.

Proximate the following recommendations have been made:

6. Policy Recommendations

1. The Turkish government has to make a genuine attempt to improve the relations with Baghdad in order to hold Iraq together. The countries have to overcome the sectarian divide that has opened up over the Syrian crisis. One way forward could be to put new energy into discussions over rebuilding a strategic pipeline connecting Iraq’s oil fields to Turkey’s Mediterranean ports[27].
2. Ankara needs to bring Baghdad and KRG closer, imperative to preserving Iraq’s territorial unity.
3. The AKP has to devise a different strategy for each of the Kurdish fronts, while having to differentiate between different Kurdish groups rather than generalizing the “Kurdish question”. The political strategy needs to differentiate between the “Kurdish problem” and the “Kurdish terrorism problem”.
4. The process of democratization, also as a condition in order to access the EU, is directly related to the solution of the Kurdish conflict. The war between the state and the PKK since 1984 has generated many violations of human rights. The process can only be complete if the Kurdish question finds a permanent solution. The Turkish policies need openness and liberalism towards this issue: only dialogue will make peace possible.
5. Arms will not be the way to solve the conflict. The PKK will never be able to win a war against NATO´s second biggest army. The Kurdish and the Turkish parties must understand this. Politicians have an obligation to educate public opinion, which remains strongly nationalist and is not yet ready to see the benefits of government concession to the PKK and its political wing[28].
6. The Phrase “one nation, one language, one leader” (Kemal Atatürk) is not relevant anymore: Turkeys policies have to acknowledge the Kurdish identity officially. Threats to the immunity of Kurdish politicians have contributed to the alienation of Kurds and to moves for the establishment of a parallel state. The AKP has to accept a multi-ethnic state model with recognition of Kurdish language, culture, tradition and identity.
7. Turkey´s pivotal role would be diminished without a lasting Baghdad-Erbil agreement on oil and gas exports. If Iraq becomes more decentralized, Turkey could deal more freely with the newly empowered governorates. Turkey should conduct all diplomat efforts to support Iraq’s coherence despite moves toward decentralization.
8. The Kurdish autonomic territory in Iraq is landlocked. They need an independent export route for their oil and gas. KRG and Turkey can take mutual benefit of this dependence. But, the Turkish government should be highly sensitive to the circumstances under which they might agree to deal with the KRG separately. The cost of alienating Baghdad in this case must be addressed. It is highly recommended to coordinate any arrangement in coalition with Baghdad to avoid diplomatic dissonance that could have negative long-term consequences for the Turkish development.

References

AG Friedensforschung (2014) : Irakisch-Türkische Beziehungen schwer belastet, AG Peaceresearch: Iraqi-Turkishrelationsarepolluted, online: http://www.ag-friedensforschung.de/regionen/Irak/tuerkei3.html

Bengio, Ofra(2013): The Kurdish challenge to the Turkish Nation-State, OrtadoguAnaliz, Ocak2013 – Cilt: 5 – Sayi: 49

DW (2014): Bilateral Relations: Ankara discoverstheKurdishreality, online: http://www.dw.de/ankara-discovers-the-kurdish-reality/a-17746743

Federal Agency of Civic Education (2014): Kurden, online: http://www.bpb.de/nachschlagen/lexika/politiklexikon/17764/kurden

KampagneTatort Kurdistan (2010): Exploitation of natural resources and the ecological demolition in Kurdistan, online: http://tatortkurdistan.blogsport.de/images/OekologischeAusbeutungKurdistan.pdf

Keshari Das, Lalatendu : Turkey-Kurdish Conflict: The Struggle for Homeland, University of Hyderabad, p.19, online: https://www.academia.edu/762034/Turkey-_Kurdish_Conflict_The_Struggle_for_Homeland

Middle East Report (2012): IraqandtheKurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, No.120, 19 April 2012

Middle East Report (2013) Syrias Kurds : A Struggle within a Struggle,No 136, 22 January 2013

Middle East Review of International Affairs (2003) Vol. 7, No2, June 2003: Park, Bill: Strategic Location, Political Dislocation: Turkey, the United States, and Northern Iraq,

Neriah, Col. (ret.) Dr. Jaques (2012): The Future of Kurdistan: Between Turkey, theIraq War, andtheSyrianRevolt, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs , online: http://jcpa.org/article/the-future-of-kirdistan-between-turkey-the-iraq-war-and-the-syrian-revolt/, p.12

Qoja, Nihad, Interview (2014) : Situation in Northern Iraq, bythegoverning Mayor of Erbil, Nihad Qoja, online: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/interview-erbil-kurdistan-100.html

Rios, Andreu Jerez (2012): The Turkish accession in the European Union and the Kurdish question, Frankfurt Oder, online: https://www.academia.edu/1761105/The_accession_of_Turkey_in_the_EU_and_the_Kurdish_question

Fig.1: Area of Kurdish settlement, online: http://www.dw.de/ankara-discovers-the-kurdish-reality/a-17746743

[...]


[1] IraqandtheKurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No.120, 19 April 2012, p.22

[2] Bill Park: Strategic Location, Political Dislocation: Turkey, the United States, and Northern Iraq, Middle East Review ofInternational Affairs, Vol. 7, No.2 (June 2003), p.11

[3] Bengio (2013) emphasizes: the blossoming of the Kurds fashioned a genuine movement with a legal party, institutions and strong popular support, which manifested itself in civil disobedience and intifada-like uprisings in the streets (Bengio 2013: The Kurdish challenge to the Turkish Nation-State, OrtadoguAnaliz, Ocak2013 – Cilt: 5 – Sayi: 49, p.70)

[4] see Fig.1 p.1: Area of Kurdish settlement, online: http://www.dw.de/ankara-discovers-the-kurdish-reality/a-17746743

[5] Andreu Jerez Rios (2012): The Turkish accession in the European Union and the Kurdish question, Frankfurt Oder, online: https://www.academia.edu/1761105/The_accession_of_Turkey_in_the_EU_and_the_Kurdish_question, p.80

[6] LalatenduKeshari Das : Turkey-Kurdish Conflict: The Struggle for Homeland, University of Hyderabad, p.19, online:https://www.academia.edu/762034/Turkey-_Kurdish_Conflict_The_Struggle_for_Homeland

[7] ibid., p.19

[8] Middle East Report No 136: Syrias Kurds : A Struggle within a Struggle, 22 January 2013, International Crisis Group, Brussels

[9] Federal Agency of Civic Education 2014, online: http://www.bpb.de/nachschlagen/lexika/politiklexikon/17764/kurden

[10] AKP: The Justice and Development Party is a social conservative party in Turkey, developed from the tradition of Islamism; largest party in Turkey; former party leader Erdogan is President.

[11] Andreu Jerez Rios (2012): The Turkish accession in the European Union and the Kurdish question, Frankfurt Oder, online: https://www.academia.edu/1761105/The_accession_of_Turkey_in_the_EU_and_the_Kurdish_question, p.83

[12] ibid., p.49

[13] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.18

[14] ibid.

[15] ibid., p.19;

AG Friedensforschung : Irakisch-Türkische Beziehungen schwer belastet, AG Peaceresearch: Iraqi-Turkishrelationsarepolluted, online: http://www.ag-friedensforschung.de/regionen/Irak/tuerkei3.html

[16] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.16

[17] [17] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.16

[18] Col. (ret.) Dr. Jaques Neriah (2012): The Future of Kurdistan: Between Turkey, theIraq War, andtheSyrianRevolt, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs , online: http://jcpa.org/article/the-future-of-kirdistan-between-turkey-the-iraq-war-and-the-syrian-revolt/, p.12

[19] DW (2014): Bilateral Relations: Ankara discoverstheKurdishreality, online: http://www.dw.de/ankara-discovers-the-kurdish-reality/a-17746743

[20] Interview (2014) : Situation in Northern Iraq, bythegoverning Mayor of Erbil, Nihad Qoja, online: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/interview-erbil-kurdistan-100.html

[21] The [Iraqi]KurdishzonehasblossomedintooneofthemainbuyersofTurkishexportsworldwide: last yearIraqboughtTurkishgoodsworth $11.9 billion (8.7 billioneuros), withthelion'ssharegoingtotheKurdishregion. Only Germany, with $13.5 billionimportedmoregoodsfrom Turkey.DW (2014):

Bilateral Relations: Ankara discoverstheKurdishreality, online: http://www.dw.de/ankara-discovers-the-kurdish-reality/a-17746743

[22] ibid.

[23] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.17, citing Crisis Group Interview, Murat Yetkin, Ankara editor of Radikal (Turkish Daily), Ankara, 19 January 2009

[24] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.17

[25] Water issue: numerous rivers rise in the Kurdish mountains and carry large parts of the water recourses for Middle East. The water recourse can get an important political tool against the neighbouring states, because the rivers move to the southern Arab states.

(KampagneTatort Kurdistan 2010: Exploitation of natural resources and the ecological demolition in Kurdistan, online: http://tatortkurdistan.blogsport.de/images/OekologischeAusbeutungKurdistan.pdf )

[26] Begio 2013: The Kurdish challenge to the Turkish Nation-State, OrtadoguAnaliz, Ocak2013 – Cilt: 5 – Sayi: 49, p.70+75

[27] Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit, Middle East Report No120-19 April 2012, p.19

[28] Andreu Jerez Rios (2012): The Turkish accession in the European Union and the Kurdish question, Frankfurt Oder, online: https://www.academia.edu/1761105/The_accession_of_Turkey_in_the_EU_and_the_Kurdish_question, p.83

11 of 11 pages

Details

Title
Kurdistan as an Independent State in Iraq and the Turkish position
College
University of Haifa
Course
Geopolitics
Grade
90/100
Author
Year
2014
Pages
11
Catalog Number
V287061
ISBN (Book)
9783656873754
File size
761 KB
Language
English
Tags
kurdistan, independent, state, iraq, turkish
Quote paper
Uta Freyer (Author), 2014, Kurdistan as an Independent State in Iraq and the Turkish position, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/287061

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