Monday, 08 March 2021

E Editorial

Kurds, our Region and Sovereignty

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The situation in Syria is getting tense.  Turkey is commencing military operations on the southern shores of the Euphrates, north of Syria, and justifying its decision by the need to protect its borders from terrorist groups, in all likelihood, having in mind the Kurds of the area.

The US is declaring that it is not supporting Turkey and is pulling out its small military divisions from the territory.  US President Donald Trump in explaining the withdrawal, states that it is costly to support the Kurds.  He later adds that the Kurds have fought along with the Americans against the terrorists but that the USA is spending too much money including providing expensive technical support to them.  Yet, in conclusion, Trump declares that they will not leave the Kurds to be alone.

Iran is starting unexpected military exercises at the border of Turkey as it urges the Kurds to cooperate with the Syrian army.  The leader of the Iraqi Kurds Barzani is calling on the Russians to come to their protection.

These are partial news bites from the media yet they evidence that the situation in the area is becoming complex.  However, our interest in the developments around the Kurds stems from another aspect.  Who are the Kurds?  It is evident that the Kurds are one of the largest people, composed of many tribes in the region who live in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.  This is clear. But who are the Kurds in the political sense?  Are the Kurds self-determined nation and are their political aspirations and political goals clear?  It is the answers to these questions that determine how other states and the international community view the Kurds - as tribes, people or self-determined nation with a purpose and a political representation.

The concept of State Sovereignty was first formulated in the 16th century by French political philosopher Jean Boden who saw this as the right of the feudal.  The feudal is the sovereign ruling over his subjects and thus has the right to decide their faith.  No one can intervene in the internal affairs of the sovereign.

In the next period, we find the concept of State Sovereignty for the first time appearing in the historical documents of 1648.  In the Peace of Westphalia documents, after a thirty year religious war, the European nations agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of one another.

Thereafter in the 18th century, Jean Jacques Rousseau formulated the theory of Popular Sovereignty.  According to him, the sovereign is the collective grouping of all people, a united body of all subjects who by their consent enter into a civil society.  The essence of Popular Sovereignty is that it expresses the general will of the people for the common good of all.

It is logical that at first it is the individual who must be self-determined by attaining rights and taking on responsibilities after which the individuals form a government or in the political sense grow into a nation.

Once again, let us now turn to the Kurds.  Have the Kurds been able to self-determine as a nation.  Recently such an attempt was made by the Iraqi Kurds yet they could not achieve a consensus within themselves.  The Kurds of Turkey, Syria, Iran have not declared their political goals and have not self-determined.  People who have no self-determination cannot enter into international relations and protect their rights.  Those people who have not declared their self-determination cannot go beyond being viewed as victims of humanitarian problems and that is why in Syria the international community will limit itself to only discussing the humanitarian aspect of the problem.  Yet, Turkey can argue for the safety of its borders and its fight against terrorists.

As for Armenia and Artsakh, let us note that the people of Artsakh and its political leaders made a timely fundamental decision on self determination, which cannot be ignored by the international community.  This is something that the Kurds to date have not been able to do.  Thus, the question of Artsakh is on the agenda of international politics.  The question has been recognized and it is on this basis that the OSCE Minsk group was formed with the member representatives of the big powers.

It is clear that if the people of Artsakh had not declared their self-determination then Artsakh could not enter into the international political arena and would remain simply as a humanitarian issue, an internal matter of Azerbaijan.  What is incomprehensible is that some in the Armenian public do not understand the important ramifications of this Public statements of some groups demanding that Artsakh be recognized as a region of Armenia, presenting Artsakh as a bastion of anti revolutionary, terroristic or unlawful acts are a major blow to Artsakh’s self-determination and an initiative—whether unconscious or even worst conscious as the case may be—to view the question of Artsakh as an internal matter of Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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