Both Turkey and Iran are against the Kurdish project which proved to be successful in Iraq, where the Kurds set up their regional and federal entity inside the country. Image Credit: AFP

Border areas in Iraqi Kurdistan are being shelled almost daily. Turkish and Iranian forces also carry out other land and air offensives, as though Iraq were a country without sovereignty. As a result of these military operations, many villages adjacent to the Iranian and Turkish borders have been destroyed and their inhabitants forced to flee, leaving everything behind.

Turkey sees its national security as being supreme even if that means trespassing into its neighbour's territory. The same applies to Iran. But how about Iraq, a brutalised country?

For a moment, let us overlook the political targets behind the ongoing military operations in the Iranian-Turkish-Iraqi border triangle. Let us talk about the hardship faced by the people living in the Iraqi villages in the area.

Let us — for a moment — turn a deaf ear to official claims of these three political entities on the assumption that they are biased, although Iraq is almost mute regarding this military action. Let us try to seek a neutral party concerned with the human rights of people.

In this context, on September 2, Human Rights Watch described the situation in this border triangle, based on evidence and reports it received: "The evidence suggests that Turkey and Iran are not doing what they need to do to make sure their attacks have a minimum impact on civilians, and in the case of Iran, it is at least quite possibly deliberately targeting civilians."

Innocent Kurds living in border areas have suffered for years as a result of the shelling and military action. These people are not responsible for some Turkish and Iranian Kurds crossing international borders and using mountainous locations in Iraq as a base to carry out insurgency operations against their countries of origin.

The blame must lie with Iraqi officials — whether in the province of Kurdistan or the central government in Baghdad — for failing in their duty to guard the country's borders.

The suffering of these people has doubled because the Iraqi authorities have always turned a blind eye to these military actions. This has also infuriated the Iraqi people and civil society organisations in the border governorates.

They have carried out protest marches and gained a lot of sympathy in the rest of Iraq. This embarrassed the Iraqi government and forced it to come out with a timid condemnation of the military operations on Iraqi soil.

However, there is a more important issue than just their own Kurdish separatists for Turkey and Iran to attack Iraqi Kurdistan. The target is the Iraqi province itself, and the Kurdish dream of an independent state.

Both Turkey and Iran are against the Kurdish project which proved to be successful in Iraq, where the Kurds set up their regional and federal entity inside the country. The success of the Iraqi Kurdish model has become an inspiration to the Kurds in other countries in the region. Kurds in Turkey and Iraq make up the second-largest ethnic group, while they are the third-largest ethnic group in Iran.

After the downfall of the Ottoman empire and the redrawing of the region's map, the Kurdish question became one of the time bombs that could easily explode, threatening the stability of many countries.

The Kurds lost the chance of gaining their own country after the war due to the interests of the western powers. The four countries with a significant Kurdish population (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran) are opposed to any independent Kurdish state.

Over the past decades, the nationalistic ideology of the biggest ethnic group dominated policies in these countries, thus marginalising other ethnic groups along with their rights.

And although the refusal of all that is Kurdish was the common denominator in these countries, Iraqi Kurds were more daring in their opposition to the status quo, and they took part in armed struggle initiated by Mahmoud Al Hafeed before the establishment of modern Iraq.

The political situation in Iraq makes the Kurdish province closer to being an independent state than a federal entity. Iraqi Kurdistan has a separate constitution, budget, cabinet, judiciary, and executive authorities. It also has its own armed forces on the border.

Iraqi Kurds were successful in setting up political relationships with strong allies such as the US. They have also grown in strength and are a force to reckon with.

Countries that are worried about Kurdish ambitions in their territories regard Iraqi Kurds with suspicion and consider them responsible for the activities of Kurdish nationalist organisations at home.

The dual Turkish-Iranian shelling and military offensive in Iraqi Kurdistan gives the impression that there is an undeclared agreement between the two countries to deal with the Kurdish problem which is seen as a major threat to their national security, despite the fact that both Turkey and Iran represent two very different political trends in the region.

Dr Mohammad Akef Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.