Can the Kurds, the largest ethnicity in the Middle East without their own nation, overcome their internal disunity and find ways to exist as an independent state or as autonomous regions?
The geopolitical ripples around Operation Olive Branch raise questions about Ankara’s ability to achieve its goal of preventing the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish entity in northwestern Syria.
ISIS, the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Iraqi government, and numerous other regional and international players have all vied for control of Kirkuk’s oil. But the struggle to rule this commodity has become a political chess game stretching across northern Iraq and beyond.
Defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will offer Baghdad a fresh state-building opportunity to correct the mistakes following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. As Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds pursue their own interests, a serious effort toward communal understanding is the key to progress.
The risks are high, but an independent Kurdish state is within reach of a fractious leadership.
This is the moment to shed the ghosts of 1916 by affirming citizen rights in Arab lands, not to perpetuate them by bowing to the dictates of failed authoritarian powers.
Supporting Kurdish groups in Syria could empower them to play a role in resolving regional conflicts, not just in Syria but also in Iraq and Turkey.