Lords report analyses UK policy on Kurdish independence

LONDON, Unieted Kingdom – In the last days before Parliament closes down for the general election, the House of Lords select committee on international relations has released a major report entitled 'The Middle East: Time for New Realism.' 

It paints a detailed picture of the Middle East and North Africa region undergoing tectonic shifts as young people question political authority with new intensity, and that is disfigured by inter- and intra-state conflict and sectarian divisions while its economic bedrock - exports of hydrocarbons - is threatened.

The Committee Chairman and former Energy Minister David Howell said: 'The Middle East has changed and UK policy in the region must respond to that. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, and we have a new and uncertain American policy in the region, we cannot assume our strategies of the past will suffice. 

We need a new UK Middle East strategy and set of policies that reflect the new reality in the region. We can no longer assume America will set the tone for the West’s relationship with the Middle East and the UK must give serious thought to how our own approach will need to change. 

One thing is certain: the UK cannot disengage from the Middle East. What happens there affects us and will continue to do so. From inward investment to the UK, the impact of refugees from the region and our continuing reliance on gas and oil exports, our interests will continue to be intertwined with those of the region and the Government must ensure it has the right plan for our relationship with it.'

The report's keynote conclusions include the UK giving serious consideration to recognising Palestine as a state as the best way to show its determined attachment to achieving the two-state solution. It endorses American military action in Syria as justified and appropriate given Russia's determination to block action at the UN Security Council, and the violation of the Syrian regime's obligations under the Chemicals Weapons Convention. It argues that the UK should work with Iran despite US policy to ensure the stability of the Iran nuclear deal. 

The report also briefly examines 'one very significant sub-state actor - the Kurds,' citing Dr Renad Mansour, a Fellow at the Chatham House think tank, that 'if you want to talk about the Kurds in Iraq, you do not go to Baghdad.' Mansour also told them the approach where states are the main actors in international affairs is no longer that relevant. The report concedes that 'the overriding theme of the evidence we received has been that in this complex and blurred scene, UK diplomacy will have to be flexible and pragmatic.' 

The report endorses doubts there will ever be a single unitary Kurdistan that combines Kurdish people across four countries as there is no one set of Kurds but it accepts that Iraqi Kurds' political ambitions can no longer be ignored.

Iraqi Kurds, it agrees, are the most effective fighting force against Daesh and have been able to trade their military victories for more diplomatic recognition and financial support. The Committee concludes that 'we recognise that there is a balance to be drawn between engaging with sub-state actors, and avoiding the risk of undermining the central state. Nevertheless, the Iraqi Kurds are a valuable ally, and the UK should support the Kurdistan Regional Government financially and its Peshmerga forces with military capacity. The UK should not, however, support attempts by the Iraqi Kurds to seek independence.' That is not the same as opposing it.

The report also argues that 'It is not a specifically UK interest that countries of the Middle East remain centralised, unitary states. The UK should not devote political will or resources to deliver the goal of unitary and fully-functioning states where this is unattainable, as could well prove to be the case in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Neither should the UK actively support this process of state unravelling. It should, however, be prepared to live with de facto arrangements and de facto sub-state entities.' It adds that a UK policy priority should be to build local ties and seek the broadest range of relationships, with a range of sub-state actors.

This approach is generally in line with the much more substantial and specific report on Anglo/Kurdistani relations issued in January 2015 by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs select committee, which broke new ground in its sympathy to the UK accepting and respecting independence if done in the right way.

The KRG has already begun negotiations with Baghdad about independence and there may be a referendum in the Autumn. If negotiations achieve an amicable divorce or confederation the UK will accept this. No one is arguing for the UK providing proactive support for Kurdish independence. A new British government will reply to the Lords' report after the election in June. And the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region will also release its delayed report examining the case for independence.

The full report of the Lords select committee is at  http://ift.tt/2p4vLZd

Gary Kent became the Director of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in 2007 but the group has been formally dissolved for the duration of the UK general election. He writes in a strictly personal capacity. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

from Rudaw http://ift.tt/2pGZafZ
via Defense News
Lords report analyses UK policy on Kurdish independence Lords report analyses UK policy on Kurdish independence Reviewed by Defense Alert on 00:06:00 Rating: 5

No comments:

Defense Alert. Powered by Blogger.