Now that Canada has decided to continue to train and support the Kurds in Iraq along with the Iraqi government, the question of the future of the Kurds is being questioned. Indeed, yesterday, I received a phone call from a magazine in Kurdistan asking me about referendums and why some secessionist movements get to become states and others do not. My short answer: “fair ain’t got nothing to do with it” which could probably use a bit of nuance. This is not just a Canadian issue but one for all of the countries intervening (or not intervening) in Iraq and Syria.
The one thing I do know and am very confident about is this: vulnerability to secession does not deter other countries from recognizing an independent Kurdish state. Sorry, I know this is the conventional wisdom (as presented in this piece), but the conventional wisdom has always been wrong and always will be wrong. How do I know that? Well, see my first book, see this article, and this one, too. Perhaps notice which countries recognized Kosovo (hint: Canada). Oh, and check out Russia’s foreign policy, given that it is vulnerable to secession yet have been sponsoring separatists frequently and enthusiastically. And yes, countries can be irredentist even as they face separatist movements at home.