Let’s mix some metaphors in the Middle East, all of them involving elephants.
In the crisis zone that encompasses Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, the Kurds are the elephant in the room. They are the “problem” that no one really wants to talk about.
Because it would be stitched together from bits and pieces of their territory, the countries of the region oppose an independent Kurdistan. Outside actors, meanwhile, feel varying degrees of guilt for abandoning Kurds over the years: for not paying attention to human rights abuses visited on the minority, for ignoring the promises of self-determination (going back to Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points), and for using the Kurds as pawns in myriad geopolitical games. Sovereign sensitivities and outsider guilt combine to drape a cloak of invisibility over the Kurds.
But the Kurdish problem is another kind of elephant as well — the one that the blind analysts grope and thereafter provide conflicting reports on what they’ve found.