Kurdish statehood: a dream realised?

Pro-nationhood demonstrators outside the Kurdish Parliament building on 3 July, 2014. Image copyright Getty Images

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As political stability in Baghdad crumbles, the Iraqi region of Kurdistan is becoming more politically autonomous. It may be just a matter of time before a new nation is born.

In the past several weeks Kurdish Regional Government leader Massoud Barzani initiated the official process toward statehood, urging the Kurdish Parliament to prepare a referendum on independence.

Firas Al-Atraqchi writes in Al Jazeera that Mr Barzani is going through the time-consuming, formal process of a referendum for two reasons.

First, he is aware that Kurdish independence is inevitable. And second, in order to ensure a successful and stable breakaway from Iraq, the Kurdish government will require Turkey's support to survive.

"The most crucial question, however, is whether Turkey - once a fierce opponent to Kurdish independence - will now become its greatest enabler," writes Al-Atraqchi. Not only has Turkey opposed the possibility of Kurdish independence for decades, it also has fought the separatist dreams of its own Kurdish minority.

With the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), however, many regional powers are forced to redefine who they consider an ally.

"The debacle in Syria has also contributed in creating a domino effect of shifting alliances and undercurrents so dramatic that age-old prejudices have fallen to the wayside in the face of new geopolitical realities," says Al-Atraqchi.

Other commentators view that independence will happen sooner than we think.

"Kurdish independence is happening," writes Timothy William Waters for the Los Angeles Times. "Kurds see their moment for exit, and they are unwilling to commit lives and treasure to maintain an Iraqi state to which they feel only the heavy bonds of painful, past entanglements."

Additionally, Kurdistan has laid the groundwork for independence for years by developing their regional economy and investing in infrastructure.

"In autonomous Kurdistan, things have never been better," writes Rebecca Collard for Time. "Kurds have managed an entity that looks more like a functional state than many long-established nations in the region."


The shackles of sovereign debt - Although their World Cup team has made it to the finals, not everyone in Argentina has reason to celebrate. In mid-June, the US Supreme Court refused to hear Argentina's appeal related to a dispute with a group of hedge funds over sovereign debt, pushing the South American country to the brink of default.

"Regardless of how the current impasse is resolved, the ruling raises many questions for issuers and holders of sovereign debt," writes former World Bank chief economist Anne Kreuger. "If creditors now believe that holding out makes it more likely that they will receive full value at a later date, restructuring sovereign debt and restoring a debtor economy's normal functioning will be more difficult," she says.

Argentina's debt situation aside, this ruling ultimately forces creditors to reassess sovereign risk in non-emerging markets, Ms Kreuger writes.

"The US Supreme Court's decision on Argentina adds a new wrinkle, and may well further increase the risk attached to holding sovereign debt - and this to the cost of issuing it," she concludes.


Moving past the past - The recently created Truth and Dignity Commission represents a "a turning point in Tunisia's transition," writes David Tolbert in AllAfrica.

"One of the key elements that informed Tunisia's approach has been a broad and inclusive consultation process," Tolbert says. The commission consulted not just elites from the nation's capital, but have also reached out across the spectrum of civil society.

Although the creation of the commission is a step in the right direction, he says that its implementation may be challenging.

"Coordination, consensus, dialogue and public participation in all processes will be a crucial element for the success of this challenging path," Tolbert writes. "Should Tunisia successfully move its process forward, taking into account the rights of victims, it will become a model for the rest of the region and the world at large."


Questioning Scottish Exceptionalism - As Scotland gears up for a referendum on independence, commentators are questioning how different the region really is from the rest of the UK.

"This assertion of Scottish exceptionalism, which comfortingly casts Scotland as a fundamentally more progressive, more egalitarian and more social democratic place than the rest of Britain, is an important and familiar theme of the independence debate," writes Martin Kettle for the Guardian.

He says that though there is some truth in that description, "it is often exaggerated, too often allowed to pass unchallenged".

Regardless of the outcome of the vote for independence, Kettle says that the accentuation of Scotland's exceptionalism is more "romantic radical imagination than a piece of practical and sustainable modern politics".


The quiet after the intervention - Before French troops landed in Mali, commentators predicted chaos and a prolonged insurgency. More than a year later, however, a tenuous but legitimate stability reigns. Did intervention work?

"It almost certainly prevented the collapse of Mali's central government, and the consequent imposition of strict Islamic law on most of Mali's population," writes Simon Allison for This Is Africa. "It also staved off the probability of even more conflict between the various Islamist groups jostling for power and ensured access for aid agencies working to alleviate the humanitarian crisis."

The current stability could devolve into chaos again, Allison cautions. The Malian government must find a way to integrate northern groups into its political system.

"Until then, the French probably aren't going anywhere," he concludes.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Israeli and Palestinian commentators write aboutthe escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.

"Netanyahu is now declaring a third war on the Gaza Strip, but it will fail just like the first and second ones. Gaza will not capitulate and will retaliate with the weapons it has at its disposal." - Yasir al-Za'atirah in Filastin Online.

"The lesson must be learned - this time it is not enough to 'restore the calm'. This time the situation in which a terror organisation rains rockets on the population of a strong state like Israel must be changed." - Uzi Dayan in Yisrael Hayom.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thought he could maintain stability without a peace process and without alliance with the moderate Palestinians? Benjamin Netanyahu erred." - Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz. ‎

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