By Hamma Mirwaisi and Alison Buckley
Resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and former staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in OSD/ISA/NESA at the Pentagon, Michael Rubin's shift from his former pro Turkey stance against the Kurdish PKK reflects a new "realpolitik' approach to Middle Eastern politics. But the US must first secure the release of the organization's leader, Abdullah Ocalan from Turkish control, in order to initiate the peace process and guard its economic interests.
Mr Rubin's claims about the inconsistencies of US policy in regard to Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and designated terrorist organizations challenge its response to changing power configurations in the Middle East. He rightly points out that the PKK has not attacked American citizens or interests, but unlike other resistance movements, it has not been removed from terrorist lists. The omission may well bring the credibility of the US' leadership of the war on terror into question.
He also raised the fact that, realizing it cannot defeat the PKK and to promote peace and prosperity, Turkey talks to its leaders, implying that the US should follow suit (1). At the same time, the military victories of the PKK's PYD Syrian subsidiary reinforce US obligations to lead a peace process in the region by recognizing the popular legitimacy of the Kurdish umbrella organization.
Clearly it is now in the best interests of the US for President Obama to make peace between the Kurds and Turks of Turkey. But first he must correct his predecessors' mistakes by instigating the release of Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. A workable agreement between the Kurds and Turks of Turkey will safeguard US oil and gas interests in a region occupied by more than 500 million people from Pakistan to Turkey and from Kurdistan to the former Soviet Union countries. With the gateway of commerce between that 500 million and the US and the EU now controlled by the Kurdish National Council (KCK), incorporating the PKK of Turkey, the PYD of Syria, PJAK of Iran and the PCDK of Iraq, US support for Iraq's serially corrupt Massoud Barzani should cease.
In the hope of sustaining his mafia type organization, Barzani is trying to further engage his long-time supporter, Turkey, as partner in the ongoing criminal appropriation of the Kurdish people's oil wealth. However, formerly divided between the Barzani and Talabani families, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) now faces instability in the form of pressure from a third party.
These uncertainties, combined with the inefficient and inequitable conduct of the oil business in the Kurdistan region, mean the US, the EU and Israel will soon have no choice but to deal with the KCK and its subsidiaries to protect their interests there.
Is It Time to Reconsider the PKK?