Kurdistan: Federalism within Iraq or Independence?

Essay by goleCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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The failure of many states to provide a functioning central government suggests that not all nations can or should have states. However, the breakdown of the state is not just a result of the aspirations of nations to statehood. Rather, the failure of states to provide adequate government for the nations, tribes, and sects within its boundaries is as much a failure of state philosophy as it is of sectarian strife. Ironically, the emphasis on stability over democracy has led directly to the inability of states to govern adequately. Thus, in order to prevent all nations from desiring statehood, a liberal approach, emphasizing democracy and power-sharing must be established.

A premiere example of the relationship between national aspirations and failed states is the situation of the Kurdish people in Iraq. Once a province of the Ottoman Empire, colonial powers France and Britain created Iraq in the early twentieth century. The colonial powers stuck together in Iraq three large and different groups of people that make up Iraq's current populations of 24,683,313 people (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iz.html).

Among the population, 75-80% are Arabs, a majority of which belong to the Shi'ite sect of Islam, with a minority compromised of Sunni Muslims. The country has been ruled traditionally by this Sunni minority. Only 15-20% of Iraq's population are Kurds.

The Kurdish minority controls territory within northern Iraq, historically part of a larger territory known as Kurdistan. However, after World War I, their "territory" was divided among five different countries: Iraq, Iran, the Soviet Union, Syria, and Turkey. The division of Kurdistan in this way resulted in devastating long term consequences for the Kurds, as they faced cultural and political discrimination in the states in which they found themselves.

In Iraq, this discrimination has reached the level of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Evidence of the severity...