Iran and Turkey, which have never agreed on anything in their history full of sectarian conflicts and conflicts of interest, are coming together today to carry out joint armed operation against the Kurds after they failed to target them through the terrorist organization of ISIS which fought fierce battles with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, mainly after ISIS’ capture of Mosul, defeating the Iraqi army and seizing their weapons which then have been transferred to Syria. The Kurds fought a fierce struggle with ISIS after the semi-autonomous government in the region of Kurdistan, sent forces of what is known as “Peshmerga” to confront ISIS in areas that the Iraqi army have withdrawn from. It can be said that some countries that are hostile to the Kurds have been behind the progress of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and its fight with the Kurds in order to weaken them and destroy their national project of establishing an independent state.
The Kurds are concentrated in the mountainous areas of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia, numbering between twenty to thirty million. It is unfortunate for Kurds that they located in an area between the Safavid and Ottoman empires as these two powers shared the Kurdish in two halves after the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. However, the conflict broke out after the Treaty of Qasr-e-Shirin in 1639 and determining the territories of the two sides in the Middle East. Until now, Tehran and Ankara prevent any Kurdish liberation activity that leads to the disintegration of Iran or the independence of the Kurds from Turkey.
The Kurds played a vital role in the recent regional developments, especially in Syria and Iraq. They fought for autonomy in Turkey, participated in the fight against terrorist groups and particularly ISIS, and succeeded in persuading many influential countries for their right to form an independent state.
However, Turkey and Iran believe that they would be the biggest victims of the formation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, therefore, they are working hard to abort the project and they consider it a direct threat to their national security, given the large percentage of Kurds in Iran and Turkey, which could lead to similar calls by the Kurds there, which will be the case one day.
In other words, the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in Iraq will lead to the secession of the Kurds from Iran and Turkey. At the very least, the Iranian regime and its organs involved in the conflicts of the region and the Turkish regime will be engaged in internal confrontations with the Kurds, which means putting an end to the Iranian and Turkish interventions in the region’s affairs and thus increasing the pace of purging it of terrorism.
Therefore, it is in the interest of all Arab countries to support the Kurds against the Iranian-Turkish rejection and their latest agreement to suppress the Kurdish ambitions, especially after the visit of the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri to Turkey and his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and holding talks with senior security officials in Turkey. The two sides declared their opposition to holding a referendum in the Kurdistan region in Iraq. After that, Erdogan said that his country agreed with Iran to take joint action against the PKK and the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). Bagheri also signed with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, an undeclared agreement to expand military cooperation between the two sides, but some of its provisions can be speculated which is to military targeting the Kurds. It can also be said that the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, has made one of the most prominent issues discussed by the two sides to develop common procedures to block that Kurdish ambition.
This agreement reveals the extent of the Iranian-Turkish concerns towards the Kurds and their efforts to reach their rights and freedom. Turkey sought to contain the anger of the Kurds by involving them in the political process and ending the decades-long armed conflict with the PKK while still using military force and striking at Kurdish positions in northern Syria. On the other side, Iran has suffered from armed confrontations, which have increased significantly recently on the western border between the Revolutionary Guard forces and armed Iranian Kurdish factions, which resulted in several deaths on both sides. Politically, the Iranian authorities tried to maintain good relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, in order to contain the anger of the Kurds inside.
Iran’s move towards Turkey and seeking cooperation to eliminate any Kurdish activity means that the Kurds are leaning for an uprising against the Iranian regime and to declare their separation and that Massoud Barzani, is determined to hold a referendum on the independence of the region, which led the mullahs’ regime and its Turkish enemy to rapprochement and work together against The Kurds.
It is time to support the Kurds against the ambitions of Iran and Turkey in the region, and to use the Kurdish issue to press Tehran and Ankara and to force them to stop their expansion projects and end their interference in the region. Iran is fully aware that the independence of Kurdistan in Iraq will lead to the separation of the Iranian nationalities from the Persian body, as the Kurds’ demand for secession and joining Iraqi Kurdistan would open doors to other non-Persian nationalities to declare independence as well.
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre
23 August 2017