Where it counts, Taipei and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan share more similarities than differences.
The News Lens
By: Dean Karalekas
Geopolitically, there might at first glance seem to be little similarity between the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Taiwan is an island whose main security threat is invasion by an expansionist communist superpower, whereas Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region threatened by Islamic insurgents and regional powers that are roughly equally balanced militarily. On closer inspection, however, the two do share certain similarities: for one thing, each, in its own way, is key to maintaining the current regional balance of power.
It is important to distinguish Iraqi Kurdistan from the other unrecognized polities in the region that straddle the borders separating the Kurdish people from the homeland to which they aspire. The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), for example, is built upon the same cultural roots, but differs greatly in political expression. Rojava, as the DFNS is more commonly known, eschews nationalism – even Kurdish nationalism – in favor of a libertarian socialist model dubbed “Democratic Confederalism” that comes too close to anarcho-communism for the comfort of some of its allies in the fight against Daesh (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS). According to one of this author’s informants, many in Iraqi Kurdistan see the DFNS as fanatics, though they are highly respected as fierce warriors, with even all-female units scoring impressive victories against Daesh.
Iraqi Kurdistan, meanwhile, is the central pivot point around which all of the region’s players (Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey) rotate. As noted by Seth Frantzman in The Hill, it sits on Iran’s doorstep; encompasses the trade (primarily oil) route to and from Turkey; serves as a link to U.S. forces fighting in Syria; and exerts some measure of influence in government coalitions in Baghdad. [FULL STORY]