Remind me: Who are the Kurds?
More than 8 million Kurds, a majority-Muslim ethnic group with a distinct culture, live in northern Iraq. Most of them identify as Sunni Muslims, but they stand out as a group that defends religious minorities including Christians and atheists. While they’ve never been their own country before, the Kurds are their own community and want to be independent.
Will Kurdish independence change the Middle East?
“Yes” is an understatement. U.S. officials say the Kurds’ vote for independence on Monday could mean Iraq will be destabilized – again – and the fight with ISIS could be hindered.
The prime minister of Iraq has given the Kurds a Friday deadline to turn over their airports and oil assets; Turkey is shifting tanks and troops to its border with the Kurds; and Iran has shut down all air travel.
How does this affect the U.S.?
The U.S. has invested troops’ lives, time and money into holding Iraq together. Former U.S. officials and policy experts told Reuters that the Kurdish referendum is another blow to American power worldwide.
“It is rare that you witness a true pivot point in history, but that is what is happening right now in the Middle East,” Glenn said on radio Wednesday. “After the dust settles, the entire map of the Middle East will look different.”