PART 1 of 2
The Kurdish political leadership in Erbil, the capital city of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, in Northern Iraq, was about to carry out a referendum to declare independence when Daesh, meaning Donkeys in Arabic, Jihadist terrorists – the so-called ISIS, showed up at their doorsteps. The Islamic State committed every type of crime against innocent Kurds including genocide of the Yazidi Kurds, beheading of the Kurdish soldiers, and enslavement and rape of Kurdish women. Remarkably, after their brave battle against ISIS, the Kurds captured the headline news for the first time in their nearly one hundred-year struggle for freedom and independence. Suddenly, journalists learned who the Kurdish Peshmerga freedom fighters were and that their name actually meant ‘Facing Death.’ Many countries, even some in Europe, sent help to the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Only a few of these countries dared to bypass Baghdad and send assistance directly to the Kurds.
Iran was the first country to help the Kurds in June of 2014. According to Tehran, the infamous General Qassem Suleimani, leading a small force, was able to stop ISIS terrorists within a short distance from the capital city of Erbil. The Kurds captured the Mosul Dam and secured the Kurdish oil-producing city of Kirkuk, both located in Northern Iraq. It took the Kurds 134 days of bloody fighting to defend and push away the Jihadist terrorists from the Kurdish city of Kobani, in Syria, on the border with Turkey. While Ankara was helping ISIS and was ready to display mayhem and massacre in Kobani, the United States began its airstrikes, and that was a tremendous help for the Kurds. Regrettably, the U.S. is still not sending arms directly to the Kurds. Only a small amount of help is reaching Erbil, via the Iraqi puppet regime in Baghdad.
The available literature on the Kurdish independence movement can be divided into two related categories: politically motivated and economically motivated. These categories depend the origins of the writer and explain why some of the scholars of the Middle East, along with American politicians, have either been against or for Kurdistan’s independence. It is most unfortunate that most of the individuals who have written about this subject are not experts in Kurdish studies. The main goal of these writers is to help Israel, the United States, or themselves. Their flip-flopping and changing sponsorship clearly reflect the fluidity of the new political reality of the region. The Western authors and politicians have forgotten that, in the age of the information super-highway, the Kurds, particularly their intellectuals and leaders, are clever, educated, knowledgeable, experienced, and are fully able to decide what to do with their future.
Thus, the main purpose of this paper is to review the literature for and against Kurdish independence. Literature reflecting the Zionism-Israeli Lobby and Western-American discourses are reviewed first. Although the Israeli and American-Centered policies in regards to Kurdish independence are presented separately, they are unquestionably strongly related to each other. Be it American Zionism or the Israeli Lobby, neither of them care about the Kurdish desire for freedom. Both have been more interested in Western interests in the region: Israel’s security and Kurdistan’s oil reserves. More importantly, a specific Kurdish dimension is usually also added to the arguments. Many examples of Kurdish attempts for independence, through time and over space, are provided to show that these processes have been bloody and brutal in all four parts of Kurdistan. But what is not understood is that, through these painful processes, the Kurds have learned how to survive and work towards the final destination of full independence.
The four countries that presently are occupying Kurdistan: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have always been supported by the Western imperial powers, including Israel, to suppress the Kurdish movement for independence. According to the Lausanne Treaty, a plan designed by the imperial Western powers, a “four-state solution” was applied to Kurdistan in 1923 and each part was given to one of the four states that now control it. It bears mentioning that the Kurds were not invited to the conference. They did not even know that their land was being dissected and given away. And the British made sure that they had full control over the oil rich region that was given to Iraq.
The “four-state solution” is still considered to be the worst and wickedest for any ethnic group. The Kurds were the only nation that was subjected and subjugated to this kind of political anguish by the Western powers. Fortunately for the Kurds presently, Iraq and Syria, two of the occupying countries of Kurdistan, are finally gone for good. A unified Iraq is nothing but a bad dream in the dormant minds of a few foreign policy decision-makers in the U.S. and Europe, who are unable to see the new political reality in the Mideast. Washington, in addition to Ankara and Tehran, is the biggest barrier for the liberation of Kurdistan. A reverse process of the Lausanne Treaty is what is needed now. This means that only a “one-state solution” can become a viable and fair solution. The Kurds have to create their own unified and independent country, a United States of Kurdistan, USK.
The newest political reality of the Kurdish struggle for independence in Turkey shocked President Erdogan more than anybody else. As soon as he was informed that a Kurdish Party, the People’s Democratic Party, Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP, had won 13% of the general votes, breaking the highest threshold in the world set by the American-sponsored coup leaders in 1980, he knew that his momentum was over. It took him nearly three days to swallow his anger and face the new reality. He and his Islamist ruling party would not form a government with other opposition secular political parties in Turkey. Thus, he is aware of his limited choices. Perhaps, it would be smart to invite the HDP to help in forming a new government in Ankara. In addition to what has been happening in South Kurdistan in Iraq and West Kurdistan in Syria, this new political development in Turkey, should help to arrive at a “one state solution” for the Kurds all over the world.
1. Israeli-Centered Policies:
The Kurds and the Jews have had friendly relationships for a long time. Kurdistan has been seen as a safe-haven for many ethnic minorities, from Alawites to Zoroastrians and everybody in between. After Israel’s independence in 1948, the great majority of the Kurdish Jews migrated to the new nation. The Kurdish Jews are proud of their ethnic Kurdish background. Pleasant political relations existed between Iran and Israel until the Islamic revolution of 1979. Iran was a major supplier of oil for Israel. Israel also had friendly relations with Ankara. Thus, Israel ignored the Kurds in both of these countries. Israel maintained good relations with the Kurds in Iraq because they were fighting with an Arab adversary of Israel. However, the United States, Israel and Iran betrayed the Kurds in 1975 after the last Shah signed a peace treaty with Saddam. The balance of political alliance changed as soon as the ayatollahs ascended to power in Tehran in 1979, and by the early 21st century, for the first time, an Islamist regime came to power in Ankara.
By the First Persian Gulf war of 1991, Israel was still a good friend of Turkey. It helped Ankara to capture Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK’s leader, in 1999. Similar to the U.S. and NATO, Israeli arms and assistance may have been used to kill Kurds in Turkey. Both the Kurds and Palestinians were seen as terrorists. These fluctuations in the regional alliances can be traced in the works of the authors for or against Kurdistan’s independence. For example, on behalf of the Israeli Lobby in the United States, the views of Dr. Daniel Pipes were based on those changes and also on how to take advantage of the Kurdish struggle. The present motivation is to find out how an independent Kurdistan in Northern Iraq or a USK can be used by Israel against Iran. Daniel Pipes and his colleagues, a few of those running for the presidency of the U.S. in 2016, and many of the junior journalists, have little understanding of the bloody Kurdish struggle for independence. The Kurds finally got their voice after 2003, and even more so in the summer of 2014.
For the first time, in 1991, it was Dr. Daniel Pipes who came out clearly against any type of independence for Kurdistan, even in Northern Iraq alone. His brief article titled, “Why America Can’t Save the Kurds” was published by the Wall Street Journal. The main point of his argument is not really about why America cannot, but why America should not help create a fully independent Kurdistan by combining its four fragmented occupied territories. It should be pointed out that before or after this article, Dr. Pipes has never produced any major or minor work on the Kurds or Kurdistan! It can be implied from his reasoning that he has not read any good work on the Kurds or Kurdistan! Dr. Pipes has no understanding of the processes of how Kurdistan arrived at the present situation due to secret compromises amongst Western colonial powers and their junior local partners.
Dr. Daniel Pipes is an American historian, politician, and diplomatic analyst. He is the president of the Middle East Forum, and publisher of its Middle East Quarterly journal. His writings cast spotlights on the American foreign policy in the Middle East. He is a dangerous American Jewish-Zionist neocon stopping at nothing to reach his colonial agenda including spying and genocide!! He has been saying repeatedly, “Victory is the most effective way to terminate conflict.” Thus, he has no respect for the sanctity of human life or ethnicity. He looks at all of the Palestinians as terrorists that must be wiped out from the surface of the earth. As long as Israel and Turkey have had friendly relationships, Pipes saw the Kurds the same way, as terrorists. He advised Israeli and Turkish lobbies in Washington, while knowing that both were committing genocides against innocent Palestinian and Kurdish people.
As a warmonger, Dr. Pipes was even a strong supporter of the Vietnam War when more than 60 thousand Americans and a few million Vietnamese were killed. As a fear monger, he advocated a “Domino Effect,” that the advancing communism must be stopped in Southeast Asia otherwise even the United States would have eventually been taken over by this ideology. Although he has identified a small group of good, moderate Muslims, Dr. Pipes is an Islamophobe at the core. His doctoral dissertation, Slave Soldiers and Islam, which later became his first book, was published in 1981. His mentality is still entangled with medieval slave soldiers in the Ottoman Empire. It is not easy for him to recognize the fact that the creation of both Turkey and Israel were colonial projects that betrayed the Palestinians and the Kurds.
As an American Jewish Zionist, he is an enthusiast for the Jewish state of Israel and an enemy of a Palestinian state. Politicians commonly offer one or two-state solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not Dr. Pipes! He embraced a three-state solution for this issue. In this plan, most of the best land of historical Palestine should be given to Israel, the Gaza Strip to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan. This plan, which would do nothing but divide, disperse and destroy Palestinian resistance, reminds one of another four-state solution that the Western colonial powers implemented by the end of WWI, by dividing Kurdistan into four colonies and allowing Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria to forcefully occupy the Kurdish land. In Dr. Pipes’ plan for historical Palestine, the main culprit, Israel, would be relieved of the Palestinian subjects. The Palestinian problem would be dumped on their Arab Muslim brothers, creating a situation similar to the Kurdish predicament today.
In his 1991 article, Dr. Pipes quoted the Turkish president Turgut Ozal, one of the worst enemies of the Kurds. He wrote that President Ozal “rightly observed” that the fragmentation of Iraq “would lead to incalculable turmoil.” Dr. Pipes believed that “the real fun would begin” after the Kurds achieved their independence in Northern Iraq. He added, “Persecuted by Kurds, non-Kurds would flee the new state. Large and bloody exchanges of population would follow. Kurdish leaders, eyeing the predominantly Kurdish areas of Iran, Turkey, and Syria, would enthusiastically destabilize those important countries… solving the Kurdish problem means destroying Iraq; do Americans truly wants to do this?” Indeed, reality on the ground did not exactly match what he predicted. Later, he refuted himself by saying, “the opposite has occurred: hundreds of thousands of refugees are pouring in from the rest of Iraq to benefit from Kurdistan’s security, tolerance and opportunities.”
Through a shortcut, jumping over fifty years of Kurdish struggle for freedom between 1920s-1970s, Dr. Pipes totally ignored the roles Western imperial powers played in betraying the Kurds. He basically just blamed the victims of the colonial system. He argued that the Kurds “fought the [Iraqi] regime for decades, they knew exactly what they were getting into. They rolled the dice and lost. It is not an American moral responsibility to save them from their mistake… Do Americans wish to be party to such [Kurdish] barbarism?” Did he really believe that the Kurds had any dice in their hands or had any chance to roll them? He, more importantly, failed to provide a single example of Kurdish barbarism. He concluded that “Looking to the future, American politicians should recall this fiasco and be far more circumspect, so as not to raise false hopes.”
It took 23 long years for Dr. Pipes, who was afraid of the Kurds killing non-Kurds and their barbarism, to reverse his position on Kurdistan’s independence. It took him all these years to finally arrive at a conclusion that he was dead wrong. Or perhaps it was that he flip-flopped based on the political affiliations within the region, or just recognized who was now Israel’s biggest foe or friend. His new position is briefly dealt with in a short article he wrote on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 that began with “Hello/Welcome” and ended with “A Kurdish state begins to emerge.” Thus, he did not firmly believe that an independent Kurdistan must be established but rather that it may be emerging. Again, he did not spell out why, how, when, and where this emergence was possible. The time of writing this new proposal corresponded with one of the worst periods in the history of Kurdistan. The so-called ISIS Islamist terrorists became Kurdistan’s newest bloody neighbor. Targeting Kurdistan’s oilfields and with much barbarism the Jihadists attacked the Kurds.
Early September of 2014 was the time when the Kurdish Peshmerga freedom fighters, a grassroots People’s Army, astonished the world by their bravery fighting against the world’s worst Islamist Jihadist terrorist who already committed a new genocide against the Yazidi Kurds, their women being enslaved, sold, and raped. It was also the time when the all-female Kurdish Peshmerga forces were defending the city of Kobani. Plus, Turkey’s President Erdogan was conspiring with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Chuck Hagel, predicting the slaughter of the civilian population of the Kurdish city of Kobani. Dr. Pipes suddenly woke up and fell in love with the Kurds without apologizing about everything he had said 23 years earlier when he called them barbarians.
Dr. Pipes wrote, “Before welcoming the emerging state of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, I confess to having opposed its independence in the past.” He acknowledged that he was mistaken for all of his three reasons: that Kurdish independence would mark the end of Iraq, could encourage Kurds outside Iraq to demand the same, and that the Kurds would start killing non-Kurds. It took him 23 years to recognize that “All three expectations proved flat-out wrong.” Then, he quickly visited the four countries that occupy Kurdistan. He believed that “the end of a unified Iraq promises relief… Syria has been fracturing… Kurds departing Turkey usefully impede the reckless ambitions of now-President Erdogan. Similarly, Kurds decamping Iran helpfully diminishes that arch-aggressive mini-empire.” Apparently, he does not like his own so-called moderate Islamist regime in Ankara nor has he developed any fondness for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Using the word “Moderate” to describe Turkey’s state terrorism is nothing but meaningless funny jargons!
While a Terroristan was in the making in Northern Iraq in summer of 2014, Dr. Pipes believed that Kurdistan was “the Switzerland of the Muslim Middle East. Its armed, commercially minded mountain people seek to be left alone to prosper.” Mountain what? Perhaps, “Mountain People” is an Orientalist condescending reference to the Kurds. Dr. Pipes may have learned this from his hero, the Turkish tyrant, Ataturk! Both, Chuck Hagel and Dr. Pipes have admired the Turkish general who personally ordered the killing of tens of thousands of the Kurds. In the same article, Dr. Pipes gave a wrong total population size for the Kurds. He believed that it was about 30 million. But, any population figure for the Kurds that is not followed by a specific time or a year must not be trusted. The most accurate total population for the Kurds all over the world was 40 million in 2014.
Next, the author recommending an independent Kurdistan reported that the Kurds were “One of the largest ethnic group in the world without a state (a debatable claim: e.g., the Kannadiga of India.” The reader is unaware of why this claim is debatable if he accurately said “one of the largest…” There were 38 million living mainly in the state of Karnataka in southwest India in 2010. It was highly likely that the Kurds out numbered the Kannadigas. This less-known ethnic group in India, received independence in 1946, live in the state of Karnataka that was formed in 1956, and cannot be named the world’s largest ethnic group without a state. As always, Dr. Pipes was not going to go away before blaming the victims of the colonial system. He believed that “the Kurds missed their chance in the post-World War I settlement because they lacked the requisite intellectuals and politicians.” The Kurds have a long list of insolent intellectuals and perky politicians. If he is ignorant of any, it is his problem.
It is interesting that he was advocating an independent Kurdistan yet did not know any Kurdish intellectual or politician. At least, out of curiosity, he could have asked why the Kurds lacked leadership. Has he ever heard of the Barzani clan who lost hundreds of their members fighting for independence? Massoud Barzani, elected President of the KRG, has spent more than half of his life in the mountains as a guerrilla leader. After all, Ocalan, the leader of the revolutionary PKK could not have been captured without help from the American CIA and the Israeli Mossad in 1999. Tehran’s agents assassinated Dr. Ghassemlou in 1989 in Austria, the most experienced and the most educated nationalist leader from Iranian Kurdistan. In the summer of 1930, in an attempt to suppress a Kurdish revolt, more than 100 intellectuals were sewn into sacks and tossed into Lake Van. Many times, Turkish soldiers were ordered to throw civilians, hands tied, into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
As soon as Dr. Pipes was rehabilitated, recognized he made a big mistake, became so generous and merciful, and began advocating for Kurdish independence, another misguided Orientalist by the name of Professor Philip Jenkins wrote a short and shallow piece opposing Kurdistan’s independence. Written on September 15, 2014, only six days after Dr. Pipes’ recommendation, the main title of his article, “The Case Against a Unified Kurdistan”, is followed by his core argument that “Encouraging Kurdish secession would only spread regional chaos and strife to those few places still free of it.” This was a nonsense statement due to the fact that it was not easy to identify any place in the region whose citizens were not fighting for or against the so-called ISIS terrorists. Thus, we need to ask Professor Jenkins a simple question: what were the names of a few places that were still free of chaos and strife in the Middle East in the middle of September 2014? Dr. Philip Jenkins was the Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University in 2013. He also taught History and Religious studies, Criminal Justice and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University for 13 years. From these credentials one can argue that Professor Jenkins has not studied anything Middle Eastern or Kurdish. Dr. Pipes can at least claim some works on the region, such as medieval history, but the Distinguished Professor mainly is not well informed, especially when dealing with Kurdistan. The Professor was against Kurdistan’s independence because he was primarily alarmed about non-Kurds and enemies of the Kurds. He was more concerned about the countries that are forcefully occupying Kurdistan, namely: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
It must be noted that Professor Jenkins could accept independence for the Kurds only in Northern Iraq. He argued, “You can make an excellent case for supporting the independence of a Kurdistan in roughly its present location in Northern Iraq.” Then, he saw a setback with his own design, by saying “But the Kurdish people are spread widely over the region, with communities in Syria, Iran, and Turkey, and the eight million Iraqi Kurds constitute only a quarter of the whole.” Based on 8 million and 25%, the author believed that 32 million Kurds lived in the Middle East alone. Interestingly enough, the professor increased the total population of Kurdistan by 2.0 million in six days from Dr. Pipes’ estimate. For these uninformed Western authors, increasing or decreasing total Kurdish population by a few million is not unusual. Again, none of them dare to give a date for their figures.
Professor Jenkins believed that an independent Kurdistan, particularly made of its original four parts, a United States of Kurdistan and dismembering its neighbors is “not dismaying, it’s actively terrifying.” But, the Kurds have never been members of those four artificial Western made nation-states to be dismembered. The territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria are already dissolved and both of their governments are non-functioning and mostly corrupt. Nor should he beat his chest for Iran and Turkey. To Professor Jenkins the nuclear Iran may be “relatively stable” but this is a failed state that is taking its entire citizenry hostage and is an exponent of international terrorism, from Brazil to Austria and Germany to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen. After the election of their new president, Hassan Rouhani, the majority of the excited political presenters were Kurds. Even a UN study indicated that Iran’s human rights are now worse than before.
In regards to Turkey, the Professor should stop imitating Ankara’s “cry wolf” that “the revolutionary PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, is an extremely active and dangerous movement, and its decades-long nationalist guerrilla struggle is currently on hiatus peace.” Professor Jenkins negated himself by putting words like “dangerous” and “peace” in the same sentence. Of course, the revolutionary PKK was dangerous to Ankara’s state terrorism, which was reinforced by NATO and the CIA against civilian Kurds. It has always been demanding respect for basic human rights of the Kurds and defending innocent civilians from Turkish tyranny. The PKK was able to nearly defeat the Turkish security force. It has been fighting for Kurdish total independence. After 2013, it has been negotiating for a peace talk with Ankara, perhaps settling for some sort of federation within Turkey.
Professor Jenkins added that, “A renewed secessionist movement in Turkey would be catastrophic. It would cause many thousands of deaths and cripple one of the region’s most successful societies.” Yet, the author does not spell out any facts about how Turkey has been “successful.” Even economically speaking, Turkey cannot be called a successful society. Turkish human rights are so bad that his own Western ally, the EU, does not want Turkey as a full member. Turkey is turning into an authoritarian Islamist state. This was one accurate point that Dr. Pipes already made his readers believe. Like Saudi Arabia, which is prosecuting female drivers through its anti-terrorism courts, Turkey’s Erdogan sends anti-terrorist police to arrest journalists.
Finally, attempting to argue with Pipes’ “salutary shake-up” of the region by saying it would be “Provoking a regional cataclysm…” It is neither salutary nor cataclysmic. In regards to the historical Kurdish struggle for freedom these two strong terms are narrow minded, foolish, and ignorant comments. It is an ethnic group’s determination not to allow its land to be occupied and to be treated as second or third class citizens. Similar to the Jews prior to the founding of the state of Israel, the human rights of the Kurds will continue to be violated without an independent United States of Kurdistan. In this case, the Kurdish intellectuals and politicians would not allow the corrupt Western ones to decide for them. The experienced, educated, and smart Kurds are watching.
A day after the publication of Professor Jenkins’ article, on September 16, 2014, Dr. Pipes wrote another brief essay still insisting on “The Case for a Unified Kurdistan.” Knowing that the Kurds already have thrown away their chains in Iraq and Syria, he focused only on Turkey and Iran. He wrote that, “One of the happy side effects of Kurdish secession from Turkey would be to impede the ambitions of the country’s rogue autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is no small matter, inasmuch as Turkey under his leadership represents the greatest long-term threat to Western interests in the Middle East.” Essentially, he assured the Professor that “the real ‘actively terrifying’ scenario is not a Unified Kurdistan but a nuclear Iran and an Erdogan-dominated Turkey. Fortunately, Western imperialism can simultaneously obstruct those disasters even as they help the ‘good-guy’ Kurds to build their state.”
As was shown in the above discussions, the main characters here are the Western colonial powers, Israel, and the countries that are still controlling Kurdistan. The real Kurdish demands, and goals, are absent. In the American-Centered plans the same trend is continuing. Regardless of who is talking, Christian-evangelicals, Republicans or Democrats, the main agenda is not about the genuine Kurdish aspirations. Kurdistan’s independence is pushed into the background of personal ambitions for the White House, preserving a century-old colonial control. Again, the Kurds are missing.
2. American-Centered Plans:
Right before the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, one of the most common sound bites against Saddam Hussein was something like, “He even killed his own people!” In fact, Saddam never treated the Kurds as “his” own people or even as people. He most often called the Kurds “flies.” However, Saddam’s brutalities against the Kurds were as bad as Turkey’s tyrannies and state-enforced terrorism against them. It is believed that both Hitler and Saddam have cited Ataturk as their mentor and teacher. This founding father of modern Turkey was a racist criminal-minded general who began his own form of Eastern Fascism before the Europeans. Ataturk initiated ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, but brutalities against the Kurds reached the highest level in Iraq. As the number one murderer of the Kurds, Saddam simply repeated Turkish methods of dealing with the Kurds. For example, the Turks have annihilated many Kurdish civilians, as retaliation against the Kurdish freedom fighters, the Peshmerga, who have never let their enemies see them as easy targets. At one time or another, the West and the USSR have both helped Ataturk and Saddam, along with all of the enemies of the Kurds, including ISIS.
It was the Republican super-donor Foster Freiss, a rich man who supports conservative and Christian causes, that encouraged Senator Rand Paul to help the Kurds fight against ISIS. According to Drucker (February 17, 2015), Friess has said that “America’s blocking aid to the Kurds embarrasses me — No, I am ashamed.” Freiss sent copies of his email to Senator Paul and other Republican Senators including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ted Cruz of Texas. Most of these Senators want to be nominated for the 2016 Presidential election. Friess wrote that the Kurds “love America, suffered their own Holocaust, and are surrounded by Persians, Arabs and Turks who are less then friendly. Sound like Israel?”
Until the summer of 2014, many rich Christians, including Mr. Freiss, never cared about the Kurds. But they had by then heard that the Kurds accepted thousands of Christians with open arms and saved the lives of many more. Thus, Mr. Freiss wanted to return the favor. He did not want to spend his own money on the Kurds. He had some connections with American lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul. Mr. Freiss pushed a few of these lawmakers mainly from the Republican Party to help the Kurds directly. He was startled to find out that the Kurds were fighting ISIS terrorists with weapons made for WWII, while the terrorists had ultra-modern American-made arms. In summer of 2014, the Kurds had artillery that was made in 1941 and the ammunition for it should have been brought in from Pakistan.
It is interesting to note that in the United States, within two days the Kurdish issues were related four times. Diamond and Rothman’s reports emerged in the media on March 11th. While Krumholz and Ahmed/Bobic’s pieces appeared on March 12, 2015. Jeremy Diamond (March 11, 2015) reported that Rand Paul wants to “Give the Kurds a country.” Mr. Diamond wrote that the Kentucky Republican, who is getting ready for his 2016 presidential campaign. said, “The U.S. should not only directly arm Kurdish fighters, but also promise the Kurds ‘a country’. I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country…” However, when naming places where the Kurds were found, Mr. Diamond forgot to mention Iran with nearly a Kurdish population of 10 million. According to him, the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters “proved to be the most effective ground force in repelling ISIS…” He also added that Senator Paul is moving away from his “isolationist foreign policy positions as 2016 neared…” The Senator is now concerned about security, terrorism and a strong military that can “project strength abroad.”
Rothman (March 11, 2015) put the title of his article in the form of a question. He wrote, Mr. Rand Paul, the Senator From Kentucky wants “a free Kurdistan, but is that the right course.” It sounds that Mr. Rothman is unsure about the whole subject. He believed that “The United States has no better ally in the fight against the Islamic State than the Kurdish Peshmerga. Paul has joined the chorus of Republicans calling for the U.S. to directly arm the Kurds without passing through the Iraqi government, but he has now taken a step further by calling for Kurdish independence.”
On the following day, Willis L. Krumholz (March 12, 2015), wrote an essay arguing that not only Rand Paul was right in giving the Kurds a state but also “The Kurds are ready to be the peaceful, Muslim democracy the Middle East needs.” He believed that “A vibrant Muslim democracy in the Middle East would also be a major blow to radical Islam, providing an example of modernity and wealth that an Obama-administration jobs program could never hope to accomplish. This would be the Muslim world’s ticket into the twenty-first century… It is time the Kurds in northern Iraq were granted statehood and given greater military aid. This is the Muslim democracy we have been hoping for.”
As soon as Mr. Krumholz suggested that “The Kurds practice a moderate form of Islam…” inference could be made that he is not a knowledgeable scholar about Kurdish political belief systems. Furthermore, a moderate Muslim democracy has never existed anywhere in the world. These three keywords are at odds with one another. Through their struggle for freedom, the Kurds have always desired a secular-democratic form of government. Today’s Kurdish government in the KRG is a secular democracy and will stay that way. Mr. Krumholz was more interested in Pax Americana than granting democracy to all of Iraq or Kurdistan. In a short paragraph, he repeated these two words, in a reference to American hegemony, six times. For example, he believed that “Republicans want America to have a strong defense, and a global presence, because this maintains the Pax Americana.” Yet, democracy is not grantable. It is made by a nation determined to respect basic human rights.
Ahmed and Bobic (March 12, 2015), again wrote about Rand Paul’s desire to let the Kurds have a country of their own. They further added a brief explanation that Senator Paul has not favored nation building but is “Ready Now To Redraw The Middle East.” Both Rand Paul and his father are renowned supporters of a foreign policy known as “Isolationism.” This is a class of foreign policies believing that it is in the best interest of a nation to stay away from political affairs of other countries. Isolationists argue that involvement in international affairs leads to unwanted conflicts and undesirable consequences. Yet, Senator Paul is ready to go against his own philosophy in building an independent Kurdistan.
As it appears, the Kurds must wait for Washington, again! According to Ahmed and Bobic, Paul said, “I would draw new lines for Kurdistan and I would promise them a country… I think if you did that and could get peace between the Kurds and the Turks, and then the Turks would actually fight if the Kurds would give up any claim to Turkish territory.” The Senator from Kentucky, an ophthalmologist, must be out of his mind to think that the Kurds at any time could claim any parts of Turkish territory. Evidently, he is not aware of the fact that Turkey controls the largest proportions of the Kurdish land and populations in the Middle East. The two author’s report, based on the Senator’s talks, is only about the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Interestingly enough, Iran’s name is not mentioned at all. Apparently, the Senator and the authors forgot or did not know about the existence of Kurds in Iran.
Many of the reporters or their publishers choose to include a few pictures, especially of an exotic place like Kurdistan in their stories. Illustrations however are seldom used when discussing these issues. They are mostly included as decorations. For example, Mr. Krumholz’s article contained a beautiful picture from Kurdistan of a few houses on a very steep slope of a mountain. This scenic photo had nothing to do with the subject matter of his junior essay. He did not give credit to the photographer nor mentioned why he included such a picture in his paper. Readers would not mind seeing such pictures. Some of them may be very attractive and used by the readers. Sadly, we can say the same thing about the lack of maps.
The Ahmed and Bobic article was the only one with a map of Kurdistan. Perhaps, not knowing anything about cartography, they asked Ms. Jan Diehm, the Info-graphics editor of the Huffington Post, to prepare a map of Kurdistan to illustrate their report. Also extremely uninformed about the art of mapmaking, Ms. Diehm copied a map of Kurdistan from three unreliable sources. Her final product was a map with no scale, fading colors, more notes than symbols, and the name of one of the three areas given on the top of the map was missing. The photographer-designer did not draw the map. Possibly, she combined mistakes of the three sources she used. The result was a dodgy map that was a caricature of the art of cartography. Finally, Ahmed and Bobic quoted Senator Paul as saying, “Without question we must be strong. Without question we must defend ourselves. I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable and unencumbered by nation building.”
It is interesting to note that on May 29, 2015, Ahmad with two of his colleagues wrote another article on the Kurds, using the same exact low quality and unreliable map of Kurdistan. Apparently, they are not aware of the issues related to this dodgy map. History repeats itself and both times are tragically sad. Senator Rand Paul too repeated his plan for Kurdistan’s independence again late in May of 2015, but few of the media outlets even reported what he was murmuring. This subject will likely surface a few more times before the end of the Presidential election in the United States, with less frequency and low intensity. Unless a referendum is taken, since the Kurds do not appear in the main headline news, sadly, I believe few media outlets would even report Kurdistan’s independence.
As early as in February 2015, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been criticizing the Obama administration for not seeing the Kurds and their Peshmerga forces as American boots on the ground. He has been urging the White House to use the Kurds on the ground and arm them directly and not through Baghdad. When nominating himself as a candidate for the 2016 presidential race on March 25th, he basically repeated the same arguments. Apparently Baghdad had to follow Washington’s plan to send the Kurds just enough weapons so they can keep fighting, but not break away from Iraq. However, neither Ted Cruz nor Rand Paul knew anything about not inviting the Kurds to a conference in London on 1/23/15 to plan for future fights against ISIS. At least they said nothing publicly that this was a big insult to the Kurds who are the most effective fighting force on the ground against the Jihadist terrorists.
On April 7, 2014, Senator Paul nominated himself for the 2016 presidency of the United States. In a rally, by saying, “Today I announce with God’s help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere, that I’m putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America”, he officially entered the race for the White House. Mr. Paul forgot the Kurds! Not even once did he mention them by name! He could not imagine the Kurds in their traditional costumes playing the role of cheerleaders with smiles on their face. While Dr. Pipes represented the Israeli Lobby, Senator Paul was more concerned about presenting his political propaganda of a strong America than anything else.
It is generally believed that, especially in terms of American foreign policies in the Middle East, there is hardly any variance between the two major political parties. Both Parties support Israel, fight against communism, and are determined to have full control over fossil fuel resources in the region. The Republicans would not change the status quo and more importantly would not redraw the map of the Mideast. Republicans and their right wing Tea Party members’ words about the Kurds are simply empty promises. The Democrats, on the other hand, are more adamantly against Kurdistan’s full independence. Similar to Bush II’s Administration, the Obama team may encourage an Iraqi federation with Baghdad, but independence is never mentioned. The Democrats can be seen as serious protectors of the imperial construction of the Middle East and a divided Kurdistan.
In early April of 2009, just about three months after being elected President of the world’s only superpower, Mr. Obama took his first foreign trip to Turkey. Over-excited, hyperactive, on nicotine attack, and with severe case of jetlag, he was ready to give some remarks to the Turkish Grand Assembly in Ankara and in a town-hall style, at a Student Roundtable in Istanbul. Before landing in Turkey, he was made ready to please the so-called moderate Islamist government by the Turkish Lobby. All he had to do was read a written speech prepared for him. His main target was the Kurdish population living in Turkey. As if all of the Kurds in Turkey were members of the outlaw PKK, in 25 minutes that he was in front of the TV cameras in Ankara, he called the group “terrorists” eight times. The American President was not told that the Kurdish movements in general and the PKK have gone through an evolution of name game. Depending what period of the history one looks, the Kurdish nationalist movements after WWI have been dubbed brigands/bandits, separates, communists, and terrorists.
President Obama told the Turkish lawmakers, “You’ve lifted bans on teaching and broadcasting Kurdish…” Mr. Obama apparently was aware of the fact that there must have been bans on most of the Kurdish cultural activities in Turkey! He pledged, reaffirmed, and renewed that he would “support [Turkey] against the terrorist activities of the PKK or anyone else.” President Obama also had a wishful list that he wanted Ankara to do for the Kurds in Turkey although they were not “good” Kurds. He believed that it was “important that the Kurdish minority inside of Turkey is free to advance in the society and that they have equal opportunity, that they have free political expression, that they are not suppressed in terms of opportunity.” Why was President Obama asking Ankara to give all of these goodies to the Kurds if they always had them? It only makes sense to give the free gift of freedom to people who do not have it!
By the summer of 2014, President Obama was no longer the inexperienced, less informed American politician who had been impressed by the Turkish Lobby, calling the Kurds “Terrorists” when visiting Turkey. His advisor perhaps told him that the Erdogan team must not be trusted. PM/President Erdogan was not Obama’s fifth best friend anymore when the NSA taped his telephone conversations. American airstrikes intensified, as soon as Erdogan refused to help the Kurds in the city of Kobani by mid-September of 2014. Indeed, both he and the American Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, provided the media with black prophecy of total massacre of the population of the city. Degrading and destroying the Islamist Jihadists terrorists has been facilitated by the unconventional warfare by the Kurdish Peshmerga guerrilla forces on the ground and the U.S. Air Force in the sky.
The Kurds in Northern Iraq were startled when they were not invited to a conference in London on 1/23/2015 to formulate a strategy to combat the Jihadist terrorists, especially after bravely struggling against ISIS all summer and still continuing to do so presently. More importantly, Washington and its European friends were sending help to the Kurds through Baghdad, indirectly. According to some estimates only 10% of the Western help reached the Kurds who were desperately fighting the Islamist thugs. In addition to writing about Senator Paul’s pro-Kurdish attitudes, Ahmed and Bobic also reported “The Obama administration on Wednesday [March 11, 2015] argued that speaking of an independent Kurdistan would actually harm the fight against the Islamic State, We believe a unified Iraq is a stronger Iraq.” A nameless and clueless State Department official told them that “Iraq’s sovereign territory remains under threat from ISIL and the only way to address this threat is for all Iraqis — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd — to work together.” The Obama administration is still insisting on this dated presumption that has not functioned since the formation of the most artificial, broken, disintegrated and ununified country of Iraq in 1932.
It is worth mentioning that Dr. Pipes was not the only person to switch concerning different numbers of state solutions. As was explained above, he agreed with the 1923 Lausanne Treaty of the “four-state Solution” for Kurdistan. In 1991, he strongly attempted to justify his lobbyist position by saying the Kurds would kill non-Kurds. Then, 23 years later, he said he was wrong and recommended a “one-state solution” for all four parts of Greater Kurdistan. The most famous recent switch is that of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Before the fourth term election, he believed in a “two-state solution” for the conflicts between his country and Palestinians. Right before the election he shifted to a “one-state solution” and as soon as he won the race, he returned to his “two-state solution.”
It was Senator Joe Biden who offered a “three-state solution” for the country of Iraq in 2006. Actually, this was a smart and wise plan and could have resolved most of the problems in Iraq. Recently, however, the American VP altered his plan and tried to offer a “one-state solution” for Iraq. As the most experienced person in the Obama administration, his approved remarks focused on Iraq’s political and military progress and what lies ahead. Nevertheless, the vice president did not offer any new policies for the Iraqi issues. His remarks were related to the colonial construction of a strong central-federal government in Baghdad and preserving territorial integrity of a country that has never existed.
On April 9, 2015, facing a friendly audience, at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Mr. Biden presented a case for a unified state of Iraq. He wanted to prove that the three major ethnic groups all believed that a unified Iraq was a strong Iraq, and could withstand the assaults of the ISIS terrorist group. But, he did not say what was going on before the formation of the Jihadist thugs. In a way, he saw the Islamist terrorists as a blessing and without them the disintegrated Iraq would not have pulled together. Since he was not concerned about the future of Iraq, he did not say what would happen after the terrorists are defeated and have disappeared. Does Mr. Biden return to his three-state proposal or would he stick like glue to a unitary model for the future of the country?
It is not only Washington that is using ISIS for a unified and strong regime in Baghdad. As was mentioned in the beginning of this paper, Erbil rescheduled its plan for a referendum due to ISIS attacks. In addition, Washington’s recent insistence on a unified Iraq reflects its friendly relations with Ankara and Tehran. The “one-window” strategy is ineptly insisting on a unified Iraq! The Kurds have always been betrayed and ignored because of the compromises reached between the Western imperial powers and those that have been occupying Kurdistan. The “one-window” policy encourages that the Kurds cooperate with and stay under Baghdad’s control. Only the fools and politically naive imperialists would assume that there could be any inclusive regime in Baghdad.
Mr. Biden said that the Iraqis were afraid of ISIS so they want to be united. He believed that “The Sunnis realized they preferred a united, federal Iraq under a new government to being at the mercy of ISIL or dependent upon the other Sunni states. The Kurds realized that withdrawing from Iraq was not a viable option, and they did not want a terrorist state on their doorstep… And the Shia, they realized they didn’t want to take on ISIL alone or become a vassal of a neighboring state. Consequently, they each concluded they were better off if they were in this together.”
A transcript of Mr. Biden’s remarks on Iraq that is posted on the White House’s site has two mistakes that can be seen as either a technical matter or just honest mistakes. Only the first part of the compound Kurdish word “Peshmerga,” meaning “Facing Death” is given as “Pesh.” Apparently, the software recording the speech did not understand this foreign word and the editor had no idea what it was. Plus, the American VP said “for the first time since 1990, Saudi Arabia has agreed to open an embassy in Baghdad at the invitation of a Shia Iraqi president.” Perhaps, he was referring to the Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi who is a Shia person because the Iraqi President, Fuad Masum, is a Kurdish Sunni Muslim. Although these two are not major mistakes but apparently the White House does not have knowledgeable editors to proofread the remarks before being posted.
According to Yerevan Saeed (April 10, 2015) “Kurds and Americans on social media networks reacted quickly to US Vice President Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday, in which he praised Iraqi unity.” Mr. Saeed reported that some Kurds “called Iraqi unity ‘a joke’ while others blasted Biden for changing the position he adopted in 2006 about dividing Iraq into three autonomous regions.” Only about six months earlier, at Harvard University on Thursday October 2, 2014, the same American VP blamed the U.S. allies in the Middle East for the rise of ISIS. He explained that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “so determined to take down Assad,” that in a sense they started a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” by pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” towards anyone who would fight against Assad. For telling the truth, Mr. Biden, the second most powerful man in the world, had to apologize to the heads of the three countries he mentioned by name in his speech at Harvard. The Turkish President Erdogan was the only one who denied all of the charges. His assertion was that Turkey never functioned as a “Jihadist Highway.” However, there were tourists that came to Turkey and went to Syria as terrorists.
Although not a very polite journalistic terminology, Ken Silverstein (May 13, 2015) compared America’s foreign policies that have betrayed the Kurds with “chickenshit.” In his recent trip to Iraq that took him to a very short distance from the ISIS frontline, he reported that the U.S. foreign policy “has been an abysmal failure under both the Bush and Obama administrations.” To him, the central reason for defeating ISIS “was the heroic efforts of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia and stalwart American ally. It is the Kurds who have stopped ISIS in Iraq…” He added that “The Kurds held off what was then the world’s fifth largest army, and they’re not going to lose to ISIS now…The Kurds “are fighting for a cause, a flag and national territory. They will win, whether the Obama administration helps them or not.” The Kurds will win the war against the terrorist groups and their rightful total independence.
According to Ali Weinberg (July 2, 2015), the Obama administration led by the VP Biden and Secretary of State Kerry, “work the phones to unite Iraqi politicians.” This not only sounded like easy-lazy telephone diplomacy but also included a division of labor in Obama administration. The two, however, were “making a big push to reach out to individual stakeholders in the region in order to convince them to keep working toward a new, representative government. For a goal of a reunified Iraq, Vice President Biden was responsible to persuade the excluded Sunni leaders and the Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to sway the Kurds to stay in a union with Baghdad.” Apparently, Kerry told President Barzani, “the Kurdish leader to set aside his aspirations for independence…” The main message from Washington was that “a united Iraq is a stronger Iraq.” But, they failed to explain to the Kurds just how a strong Iraq is in the interest of the Kurds. A strong Iraq has always been involved in their mass murdering.
The Kurds are seen like mercenaries who serve as American boots on the ground for free. The West, mainly the U.S., have no commitment of any kind towards them. Any Kurdish request even for arms to fight ISIS must go through an old enemy, Arab Baghdad. As far as independence goes, just forget it! The imperial West still wants to preserve a “four-state solution” that was applied to Kurdistan in 1923 and also preserve the original big mistake of giving independence in 1932 to a unitary nation-state of Iraq. Any time the Western imperial powers intervened in the Middle East, the results have been devastating for their own folks at home and the people in the region. So far, the Kurds have suffered the most due to Western political projects.
Dr. M. Koohzad is a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies and the author of a forthcoming book entitled: ‘Kurdistan: World’s Largest International Colony, Reflections on Its Real Political Economy’.