At the end of 2022, Turkey and Iran launched cross-border strikes against Kurdish armed forces in Syria and Iraq respectively. So far, the Kurdish issue, an unsolvable knot that plagues the Middle East and even the world, has once again entered the public eye and become a hot topic of discussion.
Millennium “beating workers”
In terms of population, Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East after Arabs, Turks and Persians. Historically, this nation has been active in the Middle East for more than 2,000 years. Under normal circumstances, any nation that can successfully enter modern society has its own commendable history, and the Kurds are no exception. From ancient times to the present, the main active areas of the Kurdish people have been concentrated in the Zagros Mountains and its surrounding areas. Their initial production method was mainly nomadic. Of course, all the ethnic groups living in the mountains have certain commonalities: the closed and harsh living environment makes them more accustomed to holding together as a tribe to keep warm; sweep.
Because of this, mountain ethnic groups usually mean instability and uncontrollability (for example, it is difficult to collect taxes) for rulers. For example, this is the case with the Chechens in history. For the kings, Kurds who are “tempered” and like to “run around” are also difficult to control. But their brave character and their lack of national concept make them the best candidates for mercenaries. Historically, from the Arab Empire, the Seljuk Empire, the Mongol Empire, to the Ottoman Empire, Kurdish mercenaries can be found in every war of imperial expansion. It can be seen that the Kurds can be described as super senior “beating workers” in the Middle East.
However, whenever the war ends and the society enters a stable operation, in the eyes of the rulers, the Kurds will switch from “easy to use” to “difficult to manage”. Of course, in most areas of the Middle Ages, this kind of “employing people forward, not using people backward” is not uncommon. But in modern times, the situation began to be very different.
Turn on “rebel” mode
In the 17th century AD, the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire, which had been fighting for many years, ceased war again. One of the results of their negotiations was to divide the Kurdistan region into two, but the Kurds knew nothing about it. Since then, both the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire have begun to rectify the Kurdish tribes in their territory, and they are not allowed to run around, especially not to cross the border. As a result, the drama of tribal resistance and government suppression was staged in this area at intervals, and this state lasted until the 19th century. At that time, intellectuals among the Kurds began to come into contact with the concept of “nation” from the Western world. Prior to this, people’s recognition of interests was limited to the tribe. As for people from other tribes, they just happened to live relatively close to each other, and their language and living habits were similar to each other. Light to outsiders.
With the emergence of the concept of “ethnicity”, the Kurds began to realize that these neighbors who have similar speaking and working habits with themselves can also be regarded as their own ethnic group. Now, they are being bullied by Turks and Persians, so it is necessary for everyone to keep warm and unite with each other. Thus, nationalism was born. Since then, the Kurds have a clear goal-to establish an independent country and no longer depend on other countries.
In 1914, World War I broke out. The Ottoman Empire, on the side of the Allies, habitually wanted to expropriate the Kurds. In order to dig out the “foot” of the Ottoman Empire, the Allied Powers made a promise to the Kurds to recognize their independent statehood. The First World War finally ended with the defeat of the Allies. Due to the failure of “standing in line”, the Ottoman Empire was forced to sign the “Treaty of Sèvres” after the war. In this treaty, the Allies recognized the independence of the Kurds as promised, but the problem also came, they also recognized the independence of the Armenians at the same time-they were also the “walls” dug down by the Allies.
Kurds who believe in Islam and Armenians who believe in Christianity have always been at odds. Let these two nations that are opposite to each other and close to each other establish independent states at the same time, it is difficult not to think of troubles. After the announcement of the “Treaty of Sevres”, the Kurds believed that the territory that should belong to them was assigned to the Armenians by the Allied Powers. When the Kurds were angry, the Turks were also furious. The “Treaty of Sèvres” was harsher on the Ottoman Empire than even the “Treaty of Versailles” on Germany. In 1919, the retired Turkish general Kemal launched a bourgeois revolutionary movement. At this time, the Kurds once again switched to Kemal’s command and fought hard.
“Dead end” after one is divided into four
After more than two years of hard work, Kemal finally forced Britain and France to sit back at the negotiating table and sign a new agreement with Turkey. In fact, Britain and France needed to focus on dealing with a bigger trouble at that time, that is, the Soviet Russian regime after the October Revolution. For this reason, they urgently need Turkey, Russia’s traditional enemy, to stand up as soon as possible to check and balance Soviet Russia. As a result, the two sides hit it off and signed the “Treaty of Lausanne”. The new Turkey offered the complete Anatolian plateau in exchange for abandoning the alien lands conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
Not only that, the “autonomous rights” of Armenians and Kurds stipulated in the “Treaty of Sevres” were also abolished in the new treaty. In addition, the Kurdish-inhabited area was divided into four parts, the largest part still belonged to Turkey, and the remaining three parts were assigned to Persia (Iran), French Syria and British Iraq at that time. In other words, the Kurds were once again sold by their “employers”. However, the Kurds, who had already started the nationalist model, naturally would not let it go, so the Kurdish uprising broke out in 1927. Due to the joint suppression of this armed uprising by Turkey, Persia (Iran), Syria and Iraq, tens of thousands of the most capable Kurds were lost in the uprising. The main tone of the Kurdish issue in the Middle East has thus been laid.
World War II was originally the last opportunity for a major reshuffle of the modern geopolitical structure, but the new Turkish Republic fully learned the previous lessons and strictly adhered to neutrality throughout the war. It was not until the end of the war that it joined the Allied camp to declare war on the Axis powers. Let the Kurds completely lose the opportunity to “come back”. After World War II, countries outside the Middle East still value the Kurds’ “worker” attributes from time to time, and promise to help them build a country, so as to draw them into their own ranks. For example, during the Cold War, both Turkey and Iran under Pahlavi’s rule followed a pro-Western foreign policy. In order to hedge against the pressure in the south, the Soviet Union once supported the Kurds to establish a state, which resulted in a joint attack by Turkey and Iran. After the Cold War, because of the Iraq War and the subsequent anti-terrorist war, the United States also sought out these millennium-old “hit workers” in the Middle East. The final result was as reported in the news—Turkey and Iran almost followed each other and launched attacks against the Kurdish armed forces abroad. Military strike.
In this regard, some commentators analyzed that the current situation of the Kurds was doomed to be irreversible since the Kurdish-inhabited area was divided into four in the Treaty of Lausanne. From the point of view of religious division: Turkey believes in Sunni Islam, Iran is Shia, Iraq is dominated by Shia, and the current power is also Shia, and the main population of Syria is Sunni. The Saad family belongs to the Shia sect. From the perspective of foreign strategy: Iran does not deal with Western countries, especially the United States, Syria is similar to Iran, Turkey has achieved all things by virtue of its unique geographical environment, and after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has relatively relative relations with Western countries Get closer.
Obviously, in this state, if the Kurds want to establish a state, no matter how countries outside the region operate, they will inevitably offend the above four countries at the same time. This has not taken into account the intricate relationships among the Kurds. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that no matter which major country outside the region is painting the cake, it is only lip service in the end. Because the Kurds established an independent state, it is simply not feasible.
“Worker” becomes “tool man”
If nation-building is impossible, then eliminating conflicts and living a peaceful life is equally difficult to achieve. After all, the Kurdish issue has been accumulated for a long time, and the countries involved have their own nationalist sentiments, and there has never been a shortage of external forces to take advantage of these sentiments. For this reason, around the Kurdish issue, we just stop fighting and fight like this.
The recent cross-border strikes by Turkey and Iran against Kurdish forces, in the opinion of critics, have little to do with the Kurds themselves. As mentioned earlier, the Kurds’ struggle for independence is a long-term problem for Turkey and Iran, and both countries are currently facing greater troubles that need to be resolved urgently. Iran is in turmoil over the death of Masha Amini. With the help of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Turkey has shown a wave of presence, but its domestic situation is actually not optimistic. Over the years, Erdogan has continued to stir up nationalist sentiments. During this period, he has repeatedly turned against Western countries. Although he can make up for it at the diplomatic level every time by taking advantage of the natural advantage of eating everything, his series of “magic operations” are still It made domestic and foreign capital lose their sense of security, so capital fled abroad one after another. At the same time, the Erdoğan government’s meddling in the Middle East has further increased the financial burden. Since 2021, Turkey has maintained a high inflation rate of more than 80%.
The credit of a country’s legal currency is, in the final analysis, the credit of the regime. It is not difficult to guess what will happen in the end if it continues like this. For this reason, Turkey launched a cross-border strike against Kurdish armed forces on the grounds of the Istanbul bombing. From a political point of view, it undoubtedly shifted the focus of public opinion. After all, although this kind of “military operation” cannot win at all, it can never be lost.
Turkey and Iran chose to launch a cross-border strike against Kurdish armed forces when the Russia-Ukraine conflict was in full swing, which undoubtedly pinpointed that European and American countries have no time to take into account the strategic direction of the Middle East at this time. On the contrary, in order to stabilize Turkey, Europe and the United States even have to give certain benefits. After all, the Kurdish armed forces are “working” for the United States, and the “beating workers” are repeatedly beaten, which will inevitably affect the image of the “boss”. If Europe and the United States choose to confront each other head-on and forcefully intervene in Turkey’s actions at this time, it will be no less than igniting the nationalist sentiment in Turkey again, and Iran, which belongs to different camps, has to worry about the toughness of Europe and the United States. All contradictions will be eliminated by external gunpowder. This is also the sad part of the Kurds being reduced to “tool people” again.