The ongoing ethnic and religious strife in Iraq creates an opportunity for Kurdish nationalists to realize their aspirations and declare independence. Although the Kurds are a nation with a common culture, a shared identity, and have civic organizations that pursue nationalistic-type goals, they still do not have an internationally recognized state. And as we shall see, while the Kurds have been seeking independence on the international stage for a while, this is extremely unlikely to materialize for a number of reasons.

In the last 90 years, the history of Kurdish political progression demonstrates that their aspirations towards statehood are moving forward. Yet, if we scrutinize this period we can detect a number of factors that undermined efforts towards independence.

The territories of the Kurds stand at a strategic crossroads in the Middle East. They occupy regions of Iran, northeastern Iraq, southeast Turkey, and north Syria. Thus, nearly any Middle Eastern country that wishes war on another must pass through Kurdistan. (What is now called Kurdistan denotes the predominantly Kurdish-inhabited region at the intersection of the four aforementioned countries.)

Kurds are not Arabs and would be much offended if called so. Kurdish culture is mostly a mixture of ancient Iranian with some Hurrian and Islamic roots. Kurdish women, unlike in many other Muslim cultures, do not cover their faces, and men and women participate in mixed-gender activities.

The Kurdish society is primarily based on a clan structure. As a result, to this day, there is still almost no unity between Kurds from Iraq and Kurds from Turkey. Different Kurdish groups have different cultures (languaculture), dialects, religions, and writing systems. This explains why they are still profoundly divided even within a single country.

The majority of Kurds practice Sufism, a moderate version of Islam. Sufism is also far more reasonable and is pro-western. It could prove an excellent role model for other Muslims. Kurds are friends of Germany, the U.S., and a few other countries. Additionally, they have a superior fighting force. Having personally worked as an operator with the Kurds of Khanaqin SWAT in the past, I can attest to the fact that they are competent fighters, possess a great love for their country, and would prove very valuable partners to the U.S.

Language and religion are not the only factors creating dividing lines within the Kurdish nation. Kurdish politics is even more diverse. In Turkey, there are more than 25 recognized Kurdish political parties. During the December 2005 Iraqi elections, 37 Kurdish parties existed. Of them 7 were officially recognized Kurdish parties and represented on the ballot.

The distribution of Kurds among the Middle Eastern states contributes to the disagreements of their political organizations. Additionally, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have contrasting state systems that deprive the Kurds of the opportunity to develop a single political culture or structure.