There have been hints, but now we know it’s true: Turkey would be in favor of an independent Kurdistan. The Financial Times reports:
Turkey’s ruling party has signalled it is ready to accept an independent Kurdish state in what is now northern Iraq, marking a historic shift by one of the heavyweight powers of the Middle East.“In the past an independent Kurdish state was a reason for war [for Turkey] but no one has the right to say this now,” Huseyin Celik, spokesman for the ruling AK party, told the Financial Times.“In Turkey, even the word ‘Kurdistan’ makes people nervous, but their name is Kurdistan,” he added. “If Iraq is divided and it is inevitable, they are our brothers . . . Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq is not good and it looks like it is going to be divided.”
As the spokesman indicated, one of Turkey’s longstanding worries was the destabilizing influence an independent Kurdistan would have on its own ethnic Kurds. But plans are now in place to bring that decades-long internal conflict to an end, making it less of a concern.This new respect goes both ways as well. A high-ranking Kurdish official stated that Iraqi Kurdistan would not declare independence without “continuous, fraternal consultation” with Ankara.Meanwhile, Turkey’s support for Kurdistan was a muffled assent compared to the full-throated roar of approbation from Israel. In a speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Kurds, “a nation of fighters (who) have proved political commitment, political moderation, and are worthy of independence.” He added, “We need to support the Kurdish aspiration for independence. They deserve it.”Israel’s fondness for Kurdistan springs both from a desire for a valuable new oil connection and a need for moderate allies in the region. And since the oil runs through Turkey, Ankara’s interests are in this case in alignment with Jerusalem’s.