Between 25-35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous area straddling Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Armenia. They are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, despite a number of attempts they have never obtained a permanent nation State. In Sept. 2017 the Kurds in Iraq after helping to defeat ISIS declared the State of Kurdistan in a Referendum by 93%. Only the State of Israel supported the idea. Secretary of State Tillerson caved into pressure from Turkey and Iraq and deemed the vote illegitimate. The Kurds of Iraq believed that after all the sacrifices they made (40,000 killed by ISIS) they deserved a state of their own.
Tillerson’s declaration was not what they expected or deserved. Going back in time, the British who supported the notion of a National Homeland for the Jewish People in 1917 via the Balfour Declaration were also contemplating creating a Homeland for the Kurds.
After World War I with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire a provision for a Kurdish State was made in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Three years later when the boundaries of modern Turkey were established the Kurds were left out in the cold just as they were this year. The Kurds fought ISIS harder than any single group. The Kurds helped by the United States led coalition-airpower drove ISIS out of thousands of square kilometers of territory in Syria and established control over hundreds of Kilometers along the border with Turkey.
In October 2017 the Kurds led the battle against the de facto capital of ISIS-Raqqa. Unfortunately, there is deep seated hostility between Turkey and the country’s Kurds who constitute 15-20% of the population. America deferred to Turkey in the struggle despite the Kurds valiant fight against ISIS. Similarly in Iraq where the Kurds make up 15-20% of the population and were subject to a chemical weapons attack in 1988 by Saddam Hussein in Halabja, Kurdish independence has been quashed.
In Sept. 2017 a referendum on independence was held and decisively backed statehood but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al -Abadi demanded that it be annulled. Later Iraqi pro-government forces retook the disputed territory held by the Kurds. The loss of Kirkuk and its oil reserves was a major blow to Kurdish statehood. The President should take matters into his own hands and grant Statehood to the Kurds.
Dr. Joseph Frager
The writer is a leading American pro-Israel activist who sponsors and coordinates many Zionist events. He is clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases) at the Einstein School of Medicine as well as a practicing physician.