Kurds and Their Supporters in a Lose-Lose Situation

On Saturday 28 JAN Iran announced that it had banned U.S. citizens from entering the country. According to Reuters, the ban has been implemented “in retaliation to Washington’s visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries announced by new U.S. President Donald Trump.”

NEC-SE believes that Iraq, which takes its marching orders from Iran, and possibly Saudi Arabia as well, will soon follow suit by with bans against U.S. citizens. If and when the Iraqi Parliament votes to approve the ban, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will have a very difficult decision to make. It can implement its own ban against U.S. citizens, a move in keeping with its status as a part of Iraq. Or it could choose to continue admitting Americans, in defiance of the governments of Iraq and Iran.

That said, it is altogether likely that the Kurds will fall in line and implement the ban. Iran has declared that the U.S. visa ban is an insult to Islam and to all Muslims, be they Sunnis or Shiites. In doing so Iran has made the ban an issue of both national and religious honor, which far transcends mere politics. The KRG is not (yet) a nation, but the Kurds are Sunni Muslims, and the appeal to religious honor must necessarily resonate strongly with them. They may not be terribly keen on implementing the ban because that will alienate the Western nations that have provided them with the political, military, and monetary support so vital to their survival. Nevertheless, they cannot act in contravention to their Muslim brethren. Such action would constitute a de facto declaration of war against Iraq and Iran; worse, it would place them outside the community of Muslim nations and peoples.

Whatever the Kurds decide, they will suffer for their choice. They are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place of Middle Eastern power politics. The result may be the crushing of Kurdish aspirations for statehood.

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