At September 25, the Kurds will make a decisive choice in what would be, the biggest moment in the history of this people: referendum for independence, or to remain autonomy in Iraq. For the Kurds, it is serious story, called “independence or die” since the Kurds have never gotten an independent nation since the Ottoman takeover. It becomes seriously concerned for both parties.
Iraq is the most critical, having sited that the Kurds “have no rights for independence” and assert back the rule of Iraq in the autonomous Kurdish region known as Iraqi Kurdistan. However, Iraq has been regarded as ineffective, corrupt and incapable over the war ISIS had caused Iraq to do nothing on the situation regardless of any opportunities. The Kurds, having proven to be more effective on fighting ISIS, has already set up any ground in the battlefield. So it will be an inevitable situation for Iraq.
However, that does not mean the Kurds can easily get what they need.
Two main key players, which also have significant Kurdish population, Turkey and Iran, both reject the idea and citing it “dangerous”. Why are they seriously opposing Kurdish referendum?
As Turkey and Iran have huge Kurdish inhabitants in both countries, it is clear that Turkey and Iran will face serious separatist movements by the Kurds. Northwestern Iran and Southeastern Turkey are main battle scenes between Kurdish independent movement forces and two countries’ armies. This, while it ties the alliance between two countries that existed peacefully for 400 years, this has shown a limit between both two countries towards its Kurdish population.
Both two countries have zero ability on 100% total control of Kurds. They can do nothing but to grant total autonomy for these people. Turkey and Iran, which have always feared Kurdish independence movement grow, try to limit their activities. But instability in the region is not helping Iran and Turkey. The Kurds, using the instability in the region, strengthen themselves in their controlled zones and turning the dream of an independent Kurdistan to height.
This is why Turkey and Iran, upon hearing the news about referendum, are unhappy.
US policy towards Kurds
There is a strong question over the U.S. policy dealing with the Kurds. While the U.S. opposes Kurdish independence movement in Turkey, the U.S. seeks to destabilize the Islamic Republic of Iran via. using the Kurds, as well as the ability of the Kurds during war against Daesh. But recent American aids for Kurdish force caused concerns for Turkey as well.
Although the U.S. currently opposes Kurdistan referendum, a majority portions of American public will back the Kurdish referendum. If this affects on the policies of Middle Eastern nations, Turkey and Iran will be threatened as well. An independent Kurdistan means Turkey and Iran will have to stretch their border as the Kurdish separatism, which have been stronger from time, can have much supports. Obviously, Turkey and Iran believe the U.S. policy might change significantly if the U.S. suddenly turns their back over Turkey and Iran, so they don’t trust the U.S. and its attempt, even if the U.S. supports or not.
Saudi Arabia’s opportunity
Saudi Arabia might be another key player. Since the Qatar’s crisis occurred as Saudi Arabia and its allies, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, accused Qatar for terrorism, they have met with strong opposition from both Turkey and Iran. This could not help Saudi Arabia, because they fear they will be blocked by both two more hostile neighbors.
Thus, Kurdish independence referendum has become Saudi Arabia’s bargain card to force Turkey and Iran. In contract, Turkey and Iran will have to prepare for a strong support from Saudi Arabia towards Kurdish independence movement. As Saudi Arabia has already disliked both for the Qatar’s crisis, the Kurds will definitely gain strong backing from Saudi Arabia, to provoke Turkey and Iran’s internal problems.
So what is waiting both two nations?
It is the time for Turkey and Iran need to make a quick decision, will they approve it, or, to continue their war against Kurds? It will be a long question for both.