Meanwhile in Iraq, while the federal government is focussed on fighting the extremist group known as the Islamic State, which has claimed control over various parts of Iraq, the country's Kurds in the north are shoring up support and power in their semi-autonomous region.
They are working on a draft of their own Constitution – one that will be different from Iraq's – and appear to be trying to move toward even more economic independence. Outside of Iraqi Kurdistan, a war is being waged against the extremist group that is deepening existing social rifts between sects and ethnic groups.
And in Turkey, it appears that the Kurdish there have become a major force for liberalism and progress. “It is one of the biggest ironies of Turkish political history that the Kurds - once belittled by the elites as a “backward culture”- have become the major progressive force in the country,” Turkish author Elif Shafak wrote in an op-ed for Time magazine after the Turkish elections. “Today many Turkish liberals, democrats, intellectuals, secularists and Kemalists are happy that the Kurds exist. It has been a massive mental shift!”
“The party's victory in Turkey is going open a political corridor for the Kurdish cause that runs through Erbil, Diyarbakir, Ankara and Brussels,” notes Iraqi Kurdish MP, Kawa Mohammed. “That is bound to have an impact on political equations in the area and it will transform the Kurds into important players. If the Kurds are careful, their vision will mature.”
After the Turkish elections, many in Iraqi Kurdistan also pointed out that next year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which basically split the former Ottoman Empire up between the French and the British, and formed the modern foundations of Syria and Iraq. The Kurds who lived in those areas did not get their own country and to this day they are the largest ethnic minority in the world without their own country.