Each year we try to have our own little celebration on our country's independence day, but something significant happened during this year's July 4th celebration that will forever set it apart from all the others. The Kurdistan Regional Government (just the day before) formally announced their intention to work towards independence and the formation of a new Kurdish nation.
Of course, just like America's formal declaration of independence, it was not well received by the "mother country", but also frowned upon pretty severely by the Iranian government - our neighbor to the East. Turkey was at first supportive, now calmly silent on the issue.
Inflaming the issue further, Israel announced that they had bought the first shipment of oil exported out of Kurdistan bringing a bit of shame to the Kurdish government and loads of ire amongst their Shia brethern down south. "Once we take care of ISIS we will deal with you," one Shia MP was reported as saying to the Kurdish MPs.
In lieu of actual fireworks then, a battle of twisted, fire-breathing words have been exchanged threatening the stability that Kurdistan has enjoyed these past 10+ years. They've been backed up with a virtual economic war between Erbil and Baghdad. With the latter withholding needed gov't salaries for over 6 months (basically this entire year), and now cutting off cargo supplies into the region.
Erbil has threatened to cut off water supplies that trickle down south, and used the opportunities provided by the retreating Iraqi army to take over huge swaths of land around Kirkuk - the "holy grail" of Kurdish territorial ambitions.
And so we have a war -- the frequent response when a party demands it's freedom -- but, Baghdad is so embroiled with their conflicts with ISIS to do much of anything about it, and it just might be the Kurds day in the end.
But, we needn't expect it all to be pretty, and we needn't expect it to be resolved anytime soon.
I think that we sometimes forget that that fateful day in 1776 was the beginning of an all out war with England that took the lives of up to 25,000 soldiers, vast destruction of property, and struggles of various kinds for over 5 years. Yes, 5 long years.
Our "official" independence wasn't actually won till 1783 - 7 years after the declaration of independence was signed -- and we had to defend it again not 30 years later in the War of 1812.
What is it about our world today that demands 'bloodless revolutions' and neat and tidy requests for freedom?
The world is the same today and it was then, and I don't suppose the Kurdish rightful request for independence will be simply agreed to.
But it is their day.
The Kurdish dream of a unified independent nation is at the door. It might get messy, it might endure suffering, but in the end, they will have their country.
As July 4th came to a close here in Kurdistan, the fireworks couldn't be seen but something else ripped a hole in the sky causing our hearts to skip a beat as we gazed in wonder at lightning bolts filling the heavens. Yes, this is the time for the Kurds, and though the celebrations haven't yet begun, it appears God is anxious to show off his own explosive symbols of freedom on their behalf.