By Ted Galen Carpenter
Acute tensions over Taiwan and Ukraine have largely eclipsed another troubling international news story. A nasty confrontation has developed in recent months between Belarus and NATO members Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia over Alexander Lukashenko’s campaign to encourage and assist Middle Eastern refugees to seek asylum in those neighboring countries. Lukashenko’s motive is to put pressure on the three countries and the European Union to ease sanctions the EU imposed on Belarus over that government’s increasingly repressive domestic rule.
One curious feature of the confrontation is that so many of the migrants come from Iraqi Kurdistan, and they appear to be fleeing rapidly deteriorating conditions at home. American Enterprise Institute analyst Michael Rubin makes a highly pertinent observation: “As Americans and Europeans address the migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border because of its implications for NATO, few ask why migrants from the nominally peaceful and affluent Iraqi Kurdish regions would risk their lives to flee their home.”
Indeed, Belarus is not the only place in Europe where they have been gathering. In late November and early December, news reports highlighted a migrant camp in northern France, where hundreds of Kurds were waiting for an opportunity to cross the English Channel to their final goal in Britain. As in the case of the refugee camps in Belarus, conditions there amount to a humanitarian crisis.
Such developments likely come as a shock to opinion leaders in the West, especially in the United States, who just a few years ago were portraying Iraqi Kurdistan as a spectacular success story in democratic nation-building by the United States and its NATO partners. Although the U.S.-led military intervention to overthrow Saddam Hussein may have produced some unfortunate results, the conventional wisdom asserted, the self-governing Kurdish region in northeastern Iraq was a clear exception, since it was stable, prosperous, pro-Western and democratic. Indeed, Sen. John McCain and some other pro-Kurdish enthusiasts in the United States lobbied Washington to treat Kurdistan as an independent country, despite vehement objections from Baghdad and Ankara about the unhealthy precedent that such a successful secessionist outcome would establish.
The Western love affair with Kurds extended beyond the push for more robust U.S. backing for Iraqi Kurdistan. American supporters expressed similar enthusiasm for Kurds in Syria, who managed to gain control of significant swaths of territory in the north because of the chaos that country’s civil war generated. The mainstream media increasingly portrayed Syrian Kurds as worthy, if not essential, American allies and Washington deployed more than 2,000 troops to northeast Syria as a tangible show of support (and to “protect” Kurdish-controlled oil fields in the region).
The extent of enthusiasm for Syrian Kurds became apparent in 2019, when Turkey warned President Donald Trump that Ankara would conduct a military offensive to dislodge those forces from the border area. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded that
Via:: American Conservative
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