Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was described here as the Middle East’s ruler. Commentators spoke at length about “the Ottoman empire’s revival” and used similar superlatives that are largely disconnected from reality. After Turkey was kicked out of Europe and realized it has no chance to be accepted by the European Union, Ankara was also rejected by the Arabs (with the exception of the PLO, which has been left without a patron.) Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab elements made it clear to the Turks that they are unwanted in the Middle East. The only option left for Turkey in our region is, again, Israel.
Rather than securing Mideastern hegemony, Turkey itself may fall apart. This is the case after the Kurdish leadership in the country declared on July 15 the establishment of a democratic Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey, with its capital in Diyarbakir.
This declaration stunned the Turkish leadership. A day earlier, 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by the Kurdish underground, PKK; yet such acts are characterized by the Turks as terror that must be fought. This time they are dealing with a political declaration and a huge area that no longer wishes to be under Turkish rule. Don’t the Turks think that the Kurds deserve what the Palestinians deserve? Coping with terrorism is easy; facing political rebellion is very hard.
Some 850 Kurdish politicians and leaders from Turkey convened in Diyarbakir in order to declare the democratic autonomy’s formation. The participants included 30 Kurds who are Turkish parliamentarians. Five such representatives are in prison, by the way.
When Erdogan heard about the declaration he was furious, as the possible future implication of this is Turkey’s collapse. Turkish prosecutors then undertook an illogical step, declaring that they will indict all participants in the declaration ceremony, a move that will get Turkey in trouble with the world. The Turks were also mulling the dismissal of Kurdish parliamentarians in Ankara. These were desperate moves. The Turks can address violence and refer to it as terror, but what can they do against politicians?
And in Syria, that very same day, we saw another important development. For the first time, a Kurdish liaison committee was established that brings together all the new Kurdish parties in Syria on the basis of the “Kurdish people’s unity.” They demand Kurdish autonomy in the wake of the Assad regime or at least a federation within Syria.
The Syrian Kurds enjoy a particularly sympathetic home front in the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. Slowly, the pieces of the Turkish puzzle in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran are connecting into a giant state that will be home to 18 million people. At this time already, the Kurdish region of Iraq is in fact a state with its own flag, leadership and sovereignty. In Iran too, the Kurds are rebelling and closely monitoring the progress achieved by their brethren in neighboring countries. Autonomy in one place will draw a demand for autonomy and sovereignty elsewhere.
If the two million Palestinians in Judea and Samaria deserve a state, why shouldn’t there be a state for the 18 million Kurds, who were discriminated against and exploited in the past 100 years? We can now understand the kind of dilemma faced by the four above-mentioned states – Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey – with the notion of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. They realize that if today the Palestinians do it, the clear implication is that tomorrow the Kurds may have a UN majority. Suddenly these states understand: If they screw Israel, they screw themselves too.
And another thing: The Kurdish state will be a close ally of Israel, just like South Sudan. The Kurds are close to Israel and view it as a twin sister with a difficult history and non-Arabic identity. What we see are four states hostile to Israel in one way or another that will have to fall apart in order to give rise to an ally of Israel.