Hugh Fitzgerald: An Independent Kurdistan: Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Plan
Barzani [Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region] said that too many massacres have occurred, leaving no room for reconciliation,’ with a divided Iraq along the sectarian lines of Sunnis and Shiites, as he commented on the prospect of an independent Kurdistan, saying that the Kurds had tried to reconcile with the rest of the country after the fall of Saddam in 2003, but it failed because of the sectarian war between the two sects that has been going on for 1400 years.
“The independence of Kurdistan would create an area of stability in this region. We have already seen too much blood and injustice,” Barzani said, noting that an independent Kurdistan will be “based on the rule of law, respect for democratic rules, coexistence between different identities, and a multiparty system.”
“In the Middle East we can help to reduce crises and conflicts. It is in everyone’s interest,” Barzani said talking about the impact of an independent Kurdistan on the Middle East.”
The largest ethnic group in the world without its own state, a people without a country of their own, are the Kurds. By the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, they were originally promised local autonomy in Anatolia, with the possibility of establishing, within a year of the Treaty’s signing, an independent Kurdish state. Section 3, Article 64 of the Sèvres treaty stated:
If within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Kurdish peoples within the areas defined in Article 62 shall address themselves to the Council of the League of Nations in such a manner as to show that a majority of the population of these areas desires independence from Turkey, and if the Council then considers that these peoples are capable of such independence and recommends that it should be granted to them, Turkey hereby agrees to execute such a recommendation, and to renounce all rights and title over these areas.”
The detailed provisions for such renunciation will form the subject of a separate agreement between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey.
If and when such renunciation takes place, no objection will be raised by the Principal Allied Powers to the voluntary adhesion to such an independent Kurdish State of the Kurds inhabiting that part of Kurdistan which has hitherto been included in the Mosul vilayet.
But that promise was never fulfilled; the treaty was annulled. After the Turks under Ataturk had managed to expel the last foreign troops from Anatolia, the Turkish government refused to recognize the commitments it had made in the Sèvres treaty, a refusal reflected in the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923. The result was bitter: no autonomy for the Kurds, and certainly no independent Kurdish state. But the Kurds did not abandon their dream of an independent Kurdistan; though the Lausanne Treaty meant the postponement of the dream of Kurdish autonomy, or of a Kurdish state, it did not destroy it. Though the Kurds are still stateless, circumstances today in the Middle East may have brought their goal closer to being realized than at any time before.