More than 90% of Iraq’s Kurdish population have now voted for independence from Iraq. While the referendum is not binding, it reflects the will of a minority group that has a long history of persecution and statelessness.
The independence referendum is an important step toward remedying a historic injustice inflicted on the Kurdish population in the aftermath of the First World War. Yet, while millions took to the streets to celebrate, it is clear that the challenges of moving forward toward establishing an independent Kurdistan are only just beginning. Already, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, has said: “we will impose the rule of Iraq in all of the areas of the KRG, with the strength of the constitution.” Meanwhile, other Iraqi lawmakers have called for the prosecution of Kurdish representatives who organized the referendum — singling out Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, specifically.
While Israel immediately supported the Kurdish bid for independence, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to extort Israel to withdraw its support, and threatened to end the process of normalization unless it does so. It is worth noting that Turkey strongly supports statehood for the Palestinians but not for their own Kurdish population. The Palestinian leadership, which is seeking statehood for its people, also opposes statehood for the Kurds. Hypocrisy abounds in the international community, but that should surprise no one.
The case for Palestinian statehood is at least as compelling as the case for Kurdish statehood, but you would not know that by the way so many countries support Palestinian statehood but not Kurdish statehood. The reason for this disparity has little to do with the merits of their respective cases and much to do with the countries from which they seek independence. The reason, then, for this double standard is that few countries want to oppose Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria; many of these same countries are perfectly willing to demonize the nation-state of the Jewish people. Here is the comparative case for the Kurds and the Palestinians.
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