WELCOME TO GREATER KURDISTAN AND
THE FUTURE MIDDLE EAST
Andrew McKillop and Sardar Pishdare
The Peters Map
The US 'Armed Forces Journal' says that its June 2006 article by retired Lt-Colonel Ralph Peters with the title 'Blood Borders' – and it’s now famous maps – remains one of most visited pages on the AFJ site. Peters explains he wrote the article and drew the maps after study and reflexion on what he called “the comprehensive failure of the region”, which in no way is only due to “dysfunctional borders”. These are in fact part and parcel of the problem. What Peters rightly calls the region's deadly mix of cultural stagnation, scandalous inequality and religious fanaticism is in his opinion written in blood-red on the regional map by “the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own [Western] diplomats”.
…His solution is inevitably dubbed extreme. Simply because of that it has been summarily cast out and rejected by politicians – but they are to blame for what is happening now and what comes next. The sole Western interest in the region – oil – cannot be safeguarded by shoring up the fantasy frontiers of political sham drawn in the wake of World War I in a process that dragged on through the 1930s. The attempt by Peters to try resolving some of the powder keg issues and pressures - by redrawing frontiers in the region - sets out to redress only the wrongs suffered by the major so-called “low visibility ethnic groups”. As he said in his AFJ article: “The boundaries projected [in his map] redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant ‘cheated’ population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia, but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities”
Recipe for Chaos
Any talk whatsoever about redrawing the frontiers of the Middle East, and almost any other region always hit a brick wall of vested interested – both external and local. Peters map, above, shows the Loser countries by territory in red, and the Winner countries, in black.
Listing the losers from north to south and west to east we have Turkey, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Against them, the winners include Kurdistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, an all-new Islamic Sacred State, Jordan, Yemen and Baluchistan. The equally new Sunni Iraq and Shia Iraq can be called winners also, due to gaining international recognition. However, just checking out the list of losers proves why the US Army and Pentagon officials steer away from any kind of comment on a “purely editorial decision” of the privately-owned Armed Forces Journal to publish Peters' article and maps.
Peters says in his article and in follow-up articles and comments that several metrics and yardsticks can be used to justify his redrawing exercize. and these are plentiful.
Demographics and Forced Population Movements
The wider Middle East is the unhappy home of the world's highest numbers of “permanently displaced” populations measured as a percentage of population per country, and by permanent this also means permanently on the move. In several cases the forced movement has been en masse and almost overnight. Jordanian mass expulsion of Palestinian refugees following Black September and their supposed imminent threat to Jordanian royalty can be dated to exactly November 9, 1970 following the Black September uprising of Palestinians. Kuwait's mass deportation of Palestinian economic migrants following the removal of Iraqi occupation troops can be dated to the last days of February 1991.
Iraqi mass deportation of Kurds was a longer process, becoming especially virulent from the first days of Iraq's republic being declared, after the overthrow of the monarchy in July 1958. The mass deportations in total may have displaced more than 5 million Kurds. Iranian mass deportation of the Baluch eastwards to what was to become Pakistan, much later, started at least 200 years ago at the beginnings of the Qajr dynasty of Iran (which lasted from 1796-1925). The Baluch were also expelled on a recurring base from Afghanistan and Oman. In total Baluch deportations at least equal their current estimated total population in Pakistan, of about 7 million.
Long before the start of the 20th century Turkish genocide of Armenians, which escalated from 1909 and lasted until well after Armenia was created in May 1918, mass deportations of Armenians from Turkey was frequent. The total population of Armenia today, about 3.1 million is likely only equal to the total numbers of Armenians expelled, or the total numbers slaughtered by Turks over the decades. Turkish deportation of Kurds was also recurrent, especially after the end of the Armenian genocide when Kurdish political reaction to Turkish exploitation of Kurdish anti-Armenian sentiment was seen as a divide-and-rule stratagem for Turkish-only benefit. Turkish deportation of Kurds was frequent after World War II and frequently escalated to outright and repeated Turkish war against Kurds – using NATO supplied arms.
International agreements that prevent mass deportation include the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families. These conventions, to date have only been signed and ratified by 35 countries and for examples, do not include Spain, Turkey, the UK, Greece and Switzerland for the European anti-deportation and human rights protocol. UN agencies covering human rights, especially the UN HCR and NGOs such as Amnesty International describe ongoing, or intensifying mass deportations operated in the MENA region, now often linked with the Syrian civil war. Humanitarian action, to be sure, is welcome but this is a classic example of closing the stable door after the horse has fled.
Political Solutions Are Obligatory
Due to huge accumulated numbers of displaced allogeneic populations – technically the opposite of autochthones or native resident populations – the Middle East of today has totally unsustainable national borders. The argument is made that in theory and when they are displaced or deported, these “foreigners in their own country” could return to the country of their supposed nationality, and therefore new or more realistic national territories do not have to be created for them. This theory supports the “laisser faire solution” of doing nothing about the crisis situation but is provenly not valid due to accumulated and centuries-long ethnic and community separation in the region. One example is long-established but never integrated Jewish communities in the region who, the moment Israel was created, either voluntarily exiled themselves to Israel or were deported en masse to Israel.
Political solutions are needed simply due to accumulated numbers. Taking only the Kurd national crisis, total numbers of Kurds spread across the region are probably above 45 million. This is 1.5 times the total population of Saudi Arabia or Iraq (we can say the former Iraq).
In other words, more Kurds live outside of the present KRG-Kurdish Regional Government enclave or liberated area of former Iraq, than inside it. For the Baluch of west Pakistan, existing with a large degree of autonomy conceded over time and often through near civil war by the Islamabad federal government, the context is even more stark. Baluchistan is home to a tiny minority of the MENA region's total numbers of Baluch who have never been, and will never be accepted in Pakistan. The same applies to “allogenic population” Armenians and Palestinians. As Peters says in his 'AFJ' article, pure and simple religious (rather than ethnic) discrimination, exclusion and repression, is now massive in the region making Christian groups and members of so-called “heretical sects of Islam”, like Bahai and Ismailian ommunities, of special concern.
Today's Sunni fundamentalist attempt at creating regional hegemony – disguised as the Grand Caliphate and operated by ISIS and (possibly) Al Qaeda – ignores all existence of national frontiers, like any other Imperialist aggression.
The immediate political and military rejection of this by the KRG has already been recognized and welcomed by the West. Next, the West must accept that the Kurd nation is a reality and its present KRG status and present KRG frontiers are unreal and under-sized relative to the total national population of Greater Kurdistan.
Acting to support long existing and pent-up, repressed strivings for national identity within secure and recognized – and realistic – frontiers is the next stage id redrawing the map of the Middle East.