The Kurds need more attention
Turkish Daily News
By Ilnur Cevik
December 19, 2002
The Iraqi opposition has ended its meeting in London and has
established a 65-member committee that will become the new
expanded cabinet of a government in exile.
It is clear that this administration will be dominated by the
Shiites and the Kurds. However, the fact that the Shiites are
split into various groups like the liberals and the religious
members, shows that the Kurds have emerged as the most important
element of stability and authority among the opposition groups.
Thus they may well play a key role in the future of Iraq if and
when the Americans depose the Saddam Hussein regime.
In essence the Kurds are the only opposition group that is
established in Iraq and has a viable administration. Their
experience in running an administration and sustaining a certain
level of democracy in their part of Iraq has enhanced their
position in the future of the country. The other opposition
groups and their leaders have been far away from Iraq for too
long and have forgotten the realities of the country and are out
of touch with the people they claim to represent.
So it is only normal that Turkey starts attaching more
importance to the two leading Kurdish groups and enhances its
ties with them. Both Kurdistan Democracy Party (KDP) leader
Massoud Barzani and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan chief (PUK)
Jalal Talabani have emerged as the prospective administrators in
Iraq in the future... That is why whenever they visit Iran they
are received by President Khatami and in Syria they meet
President Assad. In the past year whenever they came to Turkey,
they were forced to meet the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs
and not even the foreign minister. Turkey has to abandon this
policy. Justice and Development Party leader Tayyip Erdogan and
opposition leader Deniz Baykal also met Talabani when he visited
Ankara before the elections...Now they have to meet them as
leaders of the major parties represented in Parliament.
Talabani and Barzani should be invited to Ankara and given a
proper red carpet treatment. They are already invited by Iran
but we are told they would prefer to come to Ankara first.
This is a golden opportunity for Ankara to court the two leaders
and iron out some of the past misunderstandings that have hurt
Turkey's ties with the KDP. Ankara and the Kurds should be able
to harmonize their policies on Iraq as they both stand to lose
if things go wrong in an American attack.
Turkey should allow the resumption of diesel trade from Iraq and
thus help the ailing finances of the Iraqi Kurds. Such trade
will also ease the economic hardships in the Southeast and thus
create a better regional environment especially before a
possible military operation.
The Iraqi Kurds are a reality and they are the relatives of our
Kurds. Isn't it only natural that we share the same destiny in
Copyright 2002. reprinted with permission.