A man holds a Kurdistan's flags as he takes part in a demonstration John Thys/Getty Images

Like the Palestinians, the Kurds Deserve a State

In Western democracies today, few would deny the moral arguments for Palestinian statehood. But when it comes to the Kurds of northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Regional Government already administers a well-functioning, semi-autonomous state, the West has chosen realpolitik over moral consistency, much to its shame.

JERUSALEM – Nowadays, almost everyone agrees that the Palestinian people deserve a state, and that they should not live under Israeli rule. Most Israelis share this view, including even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has reluctantly stated his own commitment to a two-state solution. And in many Western democracies, a strong left-wing constituency regularly organizes demonstrations in favor of Palestinian independence.

The argument for Palestinian statehood is anchored in a fundamentally moral claim for national self-determination. Yet when it comes to securing the same right for the Kurdish people, the West has been shamefully and strangely silent. Western democracies offered no support for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s independence referendum in late September, and they have not spoken out against the Iraqi and Turkish governments’ threats to crush the KRG’s bid for statehood by force.

When officials in the European Union or the United States give a reason for opposing Kurdish independence, it always comes down to realpolitik. Iraq’s territorial integrity must be preserved, we are told, and independence for the KRG could destabilize Turkey and Iran, owing to those countries’ sizeable Kurdish minorities.

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