The example of the Kurdish safe havens illustrates the perverse version of self-determination preferred by the great powers in the West. Having stamped on Kurdish independence movements for years, Bush and Major cooked up the scheme to grant Iraqi Kurdistan autonomy for the entirely opportunistic reason that this would weaken Iraq in the middle of the gulf conflict.
Created out of power politics rather than principle, these autonomous regions turned out to be a trap. Kurds from Turkish territory in the PKK were pursued into the 'safe havens' by Turkish tropps who slaughtered them in their thousands. It is also reported that the Iraqi Kurds joined in the fighting against the PKK guerillas. The divided and dispersed Kurds have often been prey to internal conflicts that are fanned by the regional and world powers.
Self-determination should never be a principle honoured in the abstract. It is always necessary to see what forces are at play in the proposal - if another 'safe haven' is to be avoided. -- Jim heartfield