By Siow Jia Wei, Wall Street Journal
Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 11:55 PM
The United Nations Security Council convened on 19 March to discuss topics related to the Kurdish Conflict. The Kurds are one of the largest number of stateless people in the world. They are spread mainly among Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Even though borders divide them, they are united by one goal: To have a state they can call their own. However, this has resulted in both positive and negative results. In Turkey, the Kurds are still being oppressed by their government while in Iraq, the Kurds have managed to have an autonomous state. It is mainly the conflict between the Kurds and Turkey as well as other topics that may have resulted from that or might be related to that. Among the topics discussed were issues such as the Adana Agreement, peacekeeping along the Turkish border and the Kurdish issue in Syria. Some terms that surfaced during the discussion was the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF OIR) which is a counter-terrorism mission against the Islamic State led by the United State and consists of other countries.
The UNSC first started off by giving all country representatives the chance to speak to the members of the Council on the topic. The different delegates had differing views on the conflict and it showed clearly when they were expressing their views and suggestions regarding the conflict. One example would be the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC suggested the “Stop, Drop and Talk” initiative first brought up by France. What this means is, to cease any and all conflicts that are happening temporarily and to begin negotiations and talks. This solution is possibly quite effective as it could allow the parties involved to reach a consensus. However, the talks might not work if they are not willing to do anything to try and cease hostilities. France also mentioned that talks between the Turks and the Kurds must happen for relations to improve. France suggested that a good way to ensure that the relations improves would be an establishment of a safe zone in the heart of Turkey that allows the Kurds to reside there peacefully. There would also be facilitation of discussions between Kurdish representatives and Turkish representatives about anything pertaining to national security and defence. Another example would be the USA, mentioning that Turkey had clearly violated the Adana Agreement. This is an agreement that also concerns the Kurds. This agreement is based on Syria recognising the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation. Turkey will then not intervene in Syrian affairs. However, the US feels that Turkey had done exactly that and trespassed into Syrian territory.
Another major topic was the peacekeeping operations along the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey had troops stationed in that area even though there were many calls for them to pull out. However, Turkey had concerns that if they were to pull out their troops, there would be instability in the region. Therefore, the UNSC discussed ways that could allow Turkey to pull out the troops with an ease of mind, thus also benefiting other parties that do not want Turkish troops in that area. One way would be to use CJTF OIR to maintain peace and stability in that region. However, some countries worry that it is just a US power projection or that once US pulls out their troops from the Operation, then the Task Force will not be able to maintain the stability. Another method was to have a UN collaborative international peacekeeping mission. This would ensure that it would not be a US power projection to gain influence, and would have enough manpower and resources. However, some argue that it would take time for such an operation to be formed. Yet another idea would be to send a UN observatory team to ensure that the Adana agreement is complied with. There are also some who propose a mixture of some or all of these three strategies.
As the first session closed, the council had not decided on which solution to implement and the best way to appease all parties involved as well as helping the Kurds.
The conflict has resulted in the loss of many lives and disrupted the peace and stability of the region.