PART 2 OF 2
3. Kurdish-Centered Calls
Kurdish nationalism predates Europeans organizing themselves into modern nation states. The uprisings for independence have their roots in the Ottoman Empire of the late 1820s. However, modern rebellions for independence began shortly after Ataturk founded his Turkish Republic and replaced the Ottoman dynasty. He built a unitary nation-state for the Turks only. He titled himself “Father of the Turk.” He committed acts of genocide against the Kurds. He must be remembered as the first major Kurd killer in the world. Only Saddam Hussein surpassed his mass murdering of the Kurds. The Kurdish desire has always been loud and clear demanding a “one-state-solution” to their predicament, a USK. The struggle for independence that started in Turkey after WWI moved to Iran after WWII and then to Iraq.
In Syria, under the French mandate, arrangements were made for more Kurdish cultural activities. However, when the country became known as the Syrian Arab Republic, there was no room left for the Kurdish identity. When Syria formed a political union with Egypt (1958-1961), named the United Arab Republic (UAR), the Kurds suffered more. Although Ankara began its systematic Kurd killings first, the Arab regimes in Baghdad and Damascus murdered more Kurds than the Turkish state. It was in 1957 that a suspected Arab nationalist set fire to a movie theater in Syria, killing 250 Kurdish children. By 1962, more than 120,000 Syrian Kurds had been stripped of citizenship. Kurds are required to prove they have lived in Syria since at least 1945 or lose their citizenship. An arbitrary census is taken and as a result over 120,000 Syrian Kurds–about 20 percent of the country’s Kurdish population lost their citizenship. These Kurds still do not have the right to vote, to own property or to have their marriages legally recognized. Researchers refer to these Kurds as “Buried Alive.”
As was mentioned above, the Kurds were never deprived of hardworking academics, intelligentsias, researchers or politicians, as Dr. Pipes wanted his readers to believe. The idea of Kurdish independence actually predates the French Revolution of 1789 and the start of nation-state building in Europe. Ahmad Khani (1651-1707) also spelled Ehmede Xani, was a Kurdish writer, poet and philosopher. He was born amongst the Khani’s tribe in Hakkari province in present-day Turkey. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he was fluent in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian. His most important work, the Kurdish classic love story Mem u Zin, written in the style of Romeo and Juliette, was published in 1692. He is considered to be the first Kurd who wrote of Kurdistan’s independence. With little modification, his nationalistic feelings in the form of poetry are still relevant to Kurds and Kurdistan.
He wrote about the Kurdish case (words in italics were added):
“I live to God’s wisdom
The Kurds in this world’s state
Why are they deprived of their rights?
Why they all are doomed? …
The Arabs, Turks and Persians besiege them
From four sides at once, now from above too, filled with bombs of sorrow,
And they all make the Kurdish people
Into a target for fate’s arrow.”
The Butan Rebellion (1828-1855) was lead by Bader Khan, who succeeded his father in 1821 as Emir of Butan. He showed independence from Constantinople and refused to commit Kurdish troops in the Russo-Turkish war in 1828. It was in 1918 that the first known Kurdish political party, Khoyboun or Independence was established by a group of Kurdish intellectuals in Paris demanding a single independent Kurdistan with a secular form of government. The Party became the biggest threat to Ataturk’s monopoly of power and control. The Khoyboun created a government in exile in 1927 and started a two-year rebellion in 1928. Led by Ihsan Nuri Pasha, the Khoyboun movement centered on seeking an end to Kurdish tribal rivalry and the creation of a single independent state with secular inclinations. It was soon crushed by Ankara’s modern air force in 1930.
The Sheikh Obbaydullah Nahri Revolt (1878-1881) occurred in Kurdistan of Turkey and spread to Iran. This revolt started after the Treaty of Berlin was signed in the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish Wars. The treaty provided for the needs of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire and this provoked Kurdish nationalistic feeling. In October 1882, Sheikh Obbaydullah Nahri was captured in Hakkari by Sultan Muhammad II and exiled to Mecca. He was the first Kurdish leader to call for an autonomous Kurdistan in 1878. Sheikh Obbaydullah Nahri’s revolt in 1880 in Ottoman Kurdistan is considered to be the first Kurdish nationalist rebellion. One of the greatest leaders of Kurdistan, Sheikh Obbaydullah had a comprehensive strategy for uniting all Kurds in an independent country.
Three brothers including Abdulsalam Barzani, Sheikh Ahmed Barzani, and Mulla Mustafa Barzani, in different time periods, led the Barzani Revolts (1907-1945). For the cause of independence the Barzanis have sacrificed more of their tribe and family members than anybody else. A genius military tactician, General Mustafa Barzani is considered a national hero in all four parts of Kurdistan. He fought for the independence of Kurdistan from 1965-1975. The U.S., through Israel and Iran, was helping him. After the withdrawing of assistance from the United States, the Kurds were left alone at the mercy of Baghdad. The current elected President of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, is the son of Mullah Mustafa.
The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement that was signed on May 16, 1916, was an understanding between the governments of Britain and France, and Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in the Middle East, including Kurdistan, after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. This agreement became the basis for the British mandate system in the Middle East. The British, who had almost no role in Kurdistan under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, emerged as the most powerful broker once WWI war was over. The British appointed Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, to prepare the Kurds for their mandate over Kurdistan in 1918. Sheikh Mahmud led the first Kurdish revolt in British-controlled Kurdistan in May of 1919. Sir Winston Churchill, then the Colonial Secretary, attempted to pacify Iraq with the newest military technology, air power.
The Kurdish town of Barzan, the headquarters of the Barzani tribe in northern Iraq, became one of the first places to be destroyed from the sky. The British Royal Air Force ruthlessly bombarded the rebel towns and villages from1919-1923. The Kurds thus were the first and also the last civilian targets of aerial bombardments. The British RAF continued bombing of the civilians up to 1925. The RAF pursued a vigorous bombing policy against the Kurds in northern Iraq. For example, Sheikh Mahmud proclaimed himself King of Kurdistan on December 25, 1923. The British RAF subsequently bombed his house in the city of Sulaimaniyah. Beginning in 1926, both Iran and Turkey learned from the British to use their air forces to bomb Kurdistan. On September 6, 1930 Iraqi soldiers opened fire on the civilian population of the city of Sulaimaniyah. Sheikh Mahmud once more headed the movement. The Iraqi army asked the RAF for help to bombard the civilian population. The British eventually captured Sheikh Mahmud and exiled him to India.
Muhammad Sharif Pasha (1865-1951), a Kurdish general of the Ottoman era, headed the Kurdish delegation in the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Sharif Pasha urged that the British should do for the Kurds what they proposed to do for the Arabs of Mesopotamia. Due to his association with the Ottomans, the British never trusted him. First, his offer of service to the British in Mesopotamia was turned down at the beginning of WWI. In May 1919, he offered to become Amir of an independent Kurdistan. The British again rejected his proposal. He was not well known in Kurdistan. The General lacked a constituency at home.
In November of 1919, he and the head of the Armenian mission presented a joint proposal to the conference, to create independent Kurdistan and Armenistan, that was ignored. The hope of independent states for the Kurds and Armenians was raised in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. But, three years later, in 1923, the British in the Treaty of Lausanne betrayed both. Today’s crossing and dividing of Kurdistan’s border represents the Western power’s intentions imposed by the Treaty of Lausanne. The borderlines are shameful expressions and symbols of colonial desire. Straight, curved or zigzag borders imposed on the local populations destroy the fate and future of the local native peoples. Without the western colonialism implemented through their formal treaties of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Treaty of Severs, and Treaty of Lausanne, the Kurds would have been able to realize a united and independent Kurdistan.
Yusuf Ziya Bey and Colonel Halit Bey established the Committee for Kurdish Independence in 1922, a year before the Turkish Republic was founded. Their push for an independent Kurdish state was cut short, however, with the March 3, 1924 decree that effectively banned all Kurdish political activities. The two men were detained on October 10th and December 20th, respectively, and executed in late March of 1925. Their execution most likely went hand in hand with the uprising of Sheikh Said. February of 1925 marked the first bloody general Kurdish uprising in Turkey, led by Sheikh Said Piran, a chief of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, against Ataturk. The Turkish Army defeated the uprising in March. The Sheikh himself and 53 other insurgents were hanged in Diyarbakir in June. This rebellion was the first large-scale nationalist movement by the Kurds.
A commission appointed by the League of Nations to resolve the Mosul province concluded, on July 16, 1925, that since Kurds constitute the majority of the population, an independent Kurdish state should be established. However, for economic motives, Mosul was to be attached to Iraq. By then, the British had realized that the Kirkuk region, which was part of Mosul, contained significant oil reserves. The British decided to make Mosul part of Iraq. The Ararat Revolt (1927-1930) lead by General Ihsan Nuri Pasha, who was nominated by the Khoyboun (Independence) Party as the Commander-In-Chief of the Kurdish National Army, initiated a revolt against the government of Turkey. He established the Kurdish Republic of Ararat and designated Kurdawa, meaning ‘built by the Kurds’, as its capital city. By the end of the summer of 1930, this revolt was destroyed by a Turkish army of 45,000 men, strong and supplied with modern equipment in artillery and aircraft.
An associated and often forgotten feature of Agri Uprising was Ankara’s plans to wipe out support and supplies for the Kurdish forces in and around Mt. Ararat region. The secret mission dubbed ‘Cleaning Up’ was carried out west of the war zone, north of the city of Ercis in the Province of Van. The operation resulted in the killing of tens of thousands of unarmed and noncombatant Kurdish civilians and became known as the Zilan River Massacre. By July 13, 1930, thousands of innocent Kurds; mainly women, children, and elderly men were waiting to be murdered. Nobody really knows how many Kurds were killed on that day in July. The Turks hardly ever counted the dead bodies of their so-called enemies, especially the Kurds, who were seen as less than animals. However, estimates range from 5,000 to 47,000 dead. Only three days after the massacre, on July 16, 1930, the semi official newspaper of the state, the daily Cumhuriyet, or Republic, reported that about 15,000 people were killed and Zilan River was filled with dead bodies as far as its mouth. This mass murdering of the Kurds qualifies to be called genocide, 14 years before Raphael Lemkin coined the word.
Further pacification of the Kurdish region was implemented by Ankara from 1937-1938. Dersim, meaning Silver Door in Kurdish, city and region was ruthlessly devastated and many innocent people were killed by aerial bombardments, heavy artillery, and poisonous gas. The Turks removed Dersim from the map and replaced it with Tunceli. Sabiha Gokcen, the first female combat pilot ever and the adopted daughter of Atatürk, took part in the bombing raids against the Dersim Kurds. Between 1939 and 1965, for nearly a quarter of a century, the region was off limits to foreigners. To remind the world of the Dersim Genocide in its 70th year, a conference by Kurdish PEN, the association of Kurdish writers, was organizing the “Dersim ‘38 Conference” at the European Parliament on November 13, 2008. The conference reached the conclusion that Turkey was guilty of genocide, estimating that 50,000–80,000 were killed as the result of the Dersim rebellion. Almost three years after this conference, on November 23, 2011, PM Erdogan, for the first time in the history of Turkey, apologized on behalf of the state for the Dersim genocide during a televised meeting of his party in Ankara.
Ismail Agha Shikak, aka, Simko Shikak (1887-1930) revolted against Tehran between 1918-1925 in the part of Kurdistan that was occupied by Iran west of Lake Urmia and spread to most of Northern Kurdistan in Turkey. Ismail Agha Simko published a journal called Independent Kurdistan, dedicated to Kurdish self-determination and creating a Kurdish state. He received help from Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq. He was assassinated in June of 1930 during a meeting of peace negotiations with the government of Reza Shah Pahlavi in Tehran. He was not the first, last or the only Kurdish leader murdered while under the assumption of peace talks.
The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad was established on December 15, 1945, the Kurdish city of Mahabad in the Iranian province of Kurdistan that was not fully controlled by the regime in Tehran. Its leader, Qazi Mohammad, became President of the Republic on January 22, 1946. This republic was the most important Kurdish nationalist achievement. Although it did not declare independence, it had a president, a flag, a cabinet, a national army, and Kurdish was its official language. The national anthem of the republic was a poem by an Iraqi Kurd. On December 15, 1946, Iran established full control over this republic. The Shah of Iran destroyed the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad soon afterwards. Despite the intervention of the American diplomat Archie Roosevelt, who appealed to the Shah to save his life, the leader of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad and his colleagues were hanged on March 31, 1947, by the Iranian government at dawn, in downtown Mahabad.
The PKK, “Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan” meaning, Kurdistan Workers Party, was formed by Abdullah Ocalan, a Political Science student at the University of Ankara on November 27, 1978. The PKK started its guerrilla warfare against the Turkish state in southeastern Anatolia in Eruh and Schmdinli on August 15, 1984. Under Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK began an armed campaign against the Turkish government. Since then, in 30 years of warfare about 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed. The cost of the war has been estimated to be over $10 billion per year. On February 15, 1999, in a covert-joint operation by the Turkish, American, Israeli, Greek and Kenyan secret services, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested in Nairobi and brought back to Turkey the same day. A Turkish state security court found him guilty of treason and separatism. He is jailed on the Imrali Island, in the Sea of Marmara. For the first time, on March 21, 2013, on the occasion of Kurdish New Year or Newroz celebrations, Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, offered to talk peace with Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan. On March 21, 2015, the Kurdish New Year, Ocalan reiterated his peace message without any major reaction from Ankara.
During Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), as a no-man’s land, Kurdistan was caught between the two opposing forces. The Iranian Kurds supported Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds fought for Tehran. For eight long years, most of Kurdistan was bombarded and thousands of Kurds were killed. This war ultimately resulted in the Halabja massacre. On March 16, 1988, also called Black Friday, Saddam Hussein ordered the use of the largest-scale chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in modern times, killing more than 5,000 innocent civilians in Halabja city. Known as the Hiroshima of Kurdistan, this city was not the only place that has been gassed by the Iraqi forces in Kurdistan. It is believed that in Iraq alone 281 places have been gassed. Two weeks after this horrible act, President Ozal of Turkey visited Baghdad practically congratulating Saddam on the occasion of the mass murder of the Kurds. The Western imperial powers that provided Baghdad with the technology including the chemical weapons, kept watching the mass murdering of the Kurds. At times, the West only looked the other way.
On July 13, 1989, during a peace talk with a delegation from Tehran in Vienna, Austria, the Iranian agents assassinated Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, General Secretary of KDP-Iran, along with Abdullah Ghaderi Azar and Fadhil Rassul. In November 1989, after the Iranians had walked free, the Austrian courts issued a warrant for their arrest. Since the Iranian revolution ten years earlier, the Iranian Kurds demanded more freedom to deal with their local affairs. Their slogan was democracy for Iran and autonomy for Kurdistan. Unfortunately, as of yet neither one of these goals have been achieved. With a doctorial degree in economics, Dr. Ghassemlou was one the most important, most educated, and most experienced Kurdish leaders of all times.
Within a single decade, Saddam Hussein invaded two of his countries’ neighbors. Saddam’s attack on Iran in 1980 was fully supported and his assault on Kuwait in 1990 was not discouraged by the United States. In both of these conflicts, the Kurds suffered a lot. In early August Iraq invaded Kuwait. In order to free Kuwait, in less then six months, Operation Desert Storm began as Coalition planes struck targets in Iraq and in Kuwait itself. But, the dictator in Baghdad was saved. In early March, 1991, in the aftermath of the Gulf War and the failed uprising of the Iraqi Kurds, encouraged by George H. W. Bush, against the battered Iraqi regime, Saddam’s forces attacked the Kurds, killed 50,000, and forced more than one million to flee to the mountains of Iran and Turkey. It is believed that more Kurds were killed in Iran than Kuwaitis in Kuwait.
By early April 1991, the U.S. military planes began airdropping supplies to Kurdish refugees who were facing starvation and exposure in the snow-covered mountains of northern Iraq. The United States warned Iraq not to interfere with the relief effort and the United States and Britain imposed a no-fly zone to protect three Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq. In June the UN Security Council Resolution 688 provided justification for creation of a Kurdish Safe-Haven/No-Fly Zone, north of 36 degrees parallel in Iraq. This is seen as the re-birth of the Kurdish self-governing region in northern Iraq. Finally, by late July, “Operation Provide Comfort,” a military operation by the United States, implemented to defend Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the first Persian Gulf War.
Many Americans believed that at least oil/gasoline would become cheaper after the American invasion of Iraq. September 11, still fresh on their mind, Americans would have attacked any country. As long as Osama Bin Laden was on the run and without taking advantage of regime change in Kabul, attention was diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq, that so-happened to possess the second largest amount of proven oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. To justify the invasion, two unfounded reasons were put forth to the public: that Baghdad was building a nuclear bomb and had friendly relations with Bin Laden. But, it was on March 1, 2003 that Turkey’s Grand National Assembly did not approve a U.S. request to allow American troops to set up for a possible invasion of Iraq. However, the Kurds were ready to help Americans get rid of their blood enemy, Saddam Hussein. Actually, they took advantage of the situation, and the Peshmerga forces became the second largest after the United States in the Coalition fighting Saddam. Three weeks later, the American and British forces inaugurated “Operation Free Iraq.” The Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers, from both KDP and PUK, played an active role in the liberation of Iraq from the Baath Party and toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime. No American soldiers died whenever and wherever they were guided by the Kurdish freedom fighters.
Ankara has never hesitated to kill its innocent civilians just because they were Kurds. The U.S. and NATO have always buttressed the Turkish state terrorism. It was on December 28, 2011 that the Turkish warplanes killed at least 34 unfortunate Kurds in an air strike on the Iraq border in an attack. At least 28 of them belonged to the same extended family. It is known as Roboski Massacre of civilians. Those killed were poor smugglers aged 18-28, who routinely brought from Iraqi fuel and cigarettes with the full knowledge of local authorities. While an oppressed and poverty-stricken Kurdish family spent the previous few weeks mourning the deaths of a large number of their loved ones, the UN was mourning for the loss of Kim Jong-Il. Turkey’s ruling party described the massacre as an “unfortunate operational accident.” On January 2, 2012, Ankara announced that it would compensate the families of the civilians mistakenly killed in the airstrike. On May 16, 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that a U.S. Army drone provided the information leading to the air strikes in Roboski.
The summer of 2014 should be considered as one of the darkest chapters in the history of Kurdistan. The Western powers, including the U.S. and friends, plus a few of their regional partners such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and a few minor monarchies financed, armed and trained Jihadist terrorists to fight against the Syrian regime. This Frankenstein monster turned against its architects, bulldozed borders authored by Sykes and Picot of Britain and France, created its own Islamic country, so-called ISIS, killed the largest numbers of Yazidi Kurds, and more than anything else wanted to control oil fields throughout the Greater Kurdistan for the Turkish market. So far, the Jihadist thugs have killed nearly 1,500 Peshmerga fighters. The Kurds were the first who inflected a defeat on the Islamic terrorists. The Kurdish city of Kobani became a symbol of Kurdish resistance to international Islamist terrorism.
On June 23rd, 2014, in less then two weeks after the Islamist terrorists got control over the Iraqi city of Mosul, in an exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, President Barzani of the KRG “gave his strongest-ever indication…that his region would seek formal independence from the rest of Iraq.” The Kurdish President said that the country of Iraq has disappeared. He tried to say that it was not the Kurds that caused Iraq’s collapse. It sounded like he was saying that Baghdad was already burning. President Barzani pointed out the fact that Iraq’s “central government has lost control over everything. Everything is collapsing – the army, the troops, the police.” He reiterated that Iraq post ISIS is a totally different reality and “The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future…” The Kurdish people thus have to “determine their destiny and no one else.”
The Kurds have many outstanding, memorable, and unforgettable dates to remember. January 23, 2015 is one of those dates that must stay in infamy. In their so-called chess game, the colonial powers assign values to each of the pieces players use. Let’s face it, in this game the Kurds did not fare well. The well-entrenched Turkish Lobby in Washington must not be ignored. It is rich and powerful and is able to sway American political decision makers. It seemed like the main character in a play was not invited, missing or not allowed to perform. As Dr. Karadaghi described it, it was like “A performance of Macbeth without Macbeth, Hamlet without Hamlet!” Politely put, it was more like a wedding party that neither the bride nor the groom was invited. Actually, it looks like the colonial West, led by the US, has simply ignored and insulted every Kurdish individual, from President Barzani down to the infants in the wombs of their mother. As long as the Kurds take this kind of abuse, the West would continue to do so. Like loyal servants, Erbil has been ready to dance to the so-called friendly tunes. The Kurds still do not have any honest friends. Countries such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, and Israel have never really been good friends of Kurdistan. At one time or another, they all have betrayed the Kurds. January 23, 2015 was only the latest of many betrayals.
As a nation of 40 million, the Kurds need to seriously demand respect. The ruthless colonial West does not understand the language of mildly complaining about an invitation. The West has to apologize to the families of thousands of Peshmerga forces that have been killed by their terrorists. By the early 1920s, the Western colonial powers and even the U.N. saw the Kurdish uprisings and genocides as internal issues in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The West has always been on the wrong side of the history of Kurdistan, helping those who have forcefully occupied it. Then, the West divided the Kurds into bad Kurds and good Kurds. Only after the first Persian Gulf War and Saddam’s repeated mass murdering of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, did the West finally provide them with a safe haven. But, the West has never been ready to give the Kurds independence.
To discuss methods and tactics to fight against ISIS Jihadist terrorists, a conference that was sponsored by the U.S.-led coalition was held in London on January 23, 2015. Over twenty concerned countries were invited to this conference. However, Kurdistan was not one of them. About this event, Dr. Rashid Karadaghi (January 24, 2015), a Kurdish scholar, wrote, “What was striking about this conference was that the protagonist in the fight against ISIS was nowhere to be seen at the conference. It is an undeniable fact known to the world, including the conferees, that since the ISIS takeover of Mosul and the capture of millions of dollars’ worth of weaponry as a result of the Iraqi army’s rout six months ago, the Kurdish Peshmerga have been the only effective fighting force on the ground against the terrorist organization…”
He further explained “Arab Iraq does not represent the people of Kurdistan in any way shape or form. So, to claim that the Iraqi delegation represents Arab Iraq as well as the Kurds is completely false.” He believed that the Kurds are involved in an “existential war against ISIS.” He argued that “If the people of Kurdistan can be ignored like this and at this time despite their huge sacrifices and their significant role in the war against ISIS and their expected equally important role in bringing this war to a successful conclusion, one can easily imagine how they will be treated once the war is over.”
Dilshad Hama (February 27, 2015), a Ph. D. candidate majoring in Politics & International Relations, believed that due to their brave actions against ISIS, the Kurds “have been hearing loads of romantic expressions from journalists and some intellectuals from the West… the reality may prove that these are nothing more than some isolated romantic acts which have no currency within the narrow corridors of Western foreign offices.” The West is still concerned about territorial integrity of the most disintegrated country in the world. They are still dreaming about the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 while ignoring reality of the political economy of the region in real time. According to Mr. Hama, since Kurds “do not possess their own sovereignty they can only play the role of loyal soldiers to preserve the red lines once drawn by the giant powers. They are praised and adored, loved and admired, but only through the misleading political rhetoric of state-minded politicians and intellectuals.”
Again, Dr. Rashid Karadaghi (April 5, 2015) wrote “In its essence, the Kurdish plight is the age-old human yearning for freedom from oppression and domination. It is the story of the heroic effort by the Kurds to be free of the master-slave relationship that has been forced on them throughout Greater Kurdistan by their vicious neighbors aided by colonial powers from far away. The West is not just a bystander in this struggle; it determines the outcome to a large extent… A nation of over forty million is still in bondage because of a nonsensical map drawn by some British and French colonialists who had no respect for the rights of the Kurdish people.” He accurately stated “If the West acts like this when it needs the Kurds badly, would it recognize their rights and reward their indispensable role when the danger passes? It is time they negotiated with the same confidence and resolve they display on the battlefield. The West and the countries that are occupying Kurdistan will never voluntarily grant the Kurds independence. In a way the Kurdish demand for full independence must be accompanied by full determination and tenacity.”
According to Guy Taylor (May 6, 2015), the president of KRG “told an audience in Washington on Wednesday that the Kurds will hold a referendum on independence from Iraq… but certainly the independent Kurdistan is coming… We want it to be not through violence, not through killing… We want it to be through peace and dialogue.” It is inevitable, whether Washington and friends, and Turkey and Iran that have occupied the land of the Kurds, like it or not, sooner or later Kurdistan will receive independence. Those who are against it, do not understand the value of being free and breaking the chains of servitude. Those who are impeding Kurdish independence have no feeling of what statelessness means. The Kurds are going to seriously construct their Switzerland of the Mideast, an independent, secular, and democratic nation.
Now that the Kurds are on a roll in Turkey, particularly after obtaining 13% of the votes on June 7, 2015, Washington and Ankara must respect the Kurdish approach to democratically tackling their predicament in Turkey. The Kurds are able to have 80 seats in the Turkish Grand Assembly or the Parliament. Shortly after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Kurds became the “kingmakers” in Baghdad. History is repeating itself. President Erdogan needs help from the HDP to form a government. Fortunately, the Kurdish political leadership of the PKK and HDP are experienced and smart enough to deal with the man who could not become the Neo-Ottoman Sultan. With the help of the Kurdish kingmakers, he would be able to stay as a democratically elected president but not as a King or a Sultan.
The existing state of affairs and particularly the artificial political borders would be protected by the imperial Powers who built them. The West will demand preserving defunct boundaries and disintegrated countries that were put on the map of the Middle East. Regardless of where they live, the Kurds need to study and practice the art of diplomacy to be able to deal with the crafty Western foreign policy decision makers. They need to start up grassroots and bottom-up organizations and then demand full freedom. A general referendum should indicate what exactly the Kurds want, not what debased lobbyists and corrupt Western politicians plan. In a complex world when the interests of many nations cross one another, a stateless nation of 40 million is being stripped of its freedom and ignored. As the most important fight of their life, the Kurds must seriously stress their independence bravely. Similar to the way they have met their challenges in on the battlefield.
The Kurds have always sought and fought for a “one-state Solution.” The above-mentioned 15 major rebellions must indicate that they have been systematically struggling for an independent and unified Kurdistan. However, according to the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, that was a compromise between the Europeans and the Turks, a “four-state solution” was forcefully enacted on the Kurds. The imposed borders dividing Kurdistan formally was based on the European knowledge of oil and natural gas resources in the region. During the last century or so, however, the Kurds have been trying to reverse this colonial arrangement and apply a one-state solution of their own, albeit unsuccessfully.
It is believed that Sunday June 7th, 2015, must be seen as the beginning of a success story of the Kurdish political involvements in Turkey. For the first time in their history, the Kurdish political agenda evolved into a force that democratically challenged the ruling party. The Kurds proved that they could be seen as significant political players in that country. It is hoped that this remarkable victory would encourage the Kurds to move away from bullets and towards ballots all around the world and work towards a meaningful and sincere peaceful solution for their cause.
The 40 million Kurds are the most politicized ethnic group in the world. They have seen all of the atrocities, mayhem, mass murder, massacre, and genocides committed against them by the countries that are occupying Kurdistan. The British RAF was the first to bombard the Kurds. Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria all employed planes to kill Kurds in the less accessible mountains. At one time or another, all of the blood enemies of the Kurds have benefited from full assistance from the Western imperial powers. After almost a century, from the end of WWI, the Kurds can claim that they are not history’s loser. They have many reasons to believe that they represent a successful survival story. The Kurds already are the masters of self-reliance. They must now arm themselves with the art of diplomacy and create a democratic secular state of their own, a USK, forever.
Only the Kurds in Iraq and Syria are relatively free, and will most likely achieve more autonomy and possibly independence before their countrymen living in Turkey and Iran. Although Turkey and Iran, with the largest Kurdish populations in the world, are in favor of independence for the KRG, in no way are they willing to give any concessions to their own Kurds. In Turkey, the peace talks with the PKK have not produced any tangible results. President/Sultan Erdogan is still taking advantage of the Kurdish votes for his Islamist Party. Thus, a Kurdish-Turkish federation may have to wait for some time. In Iran, the Kurds are facing a case of double jeopardy. In the world’s largest Shia nation, the Kurds are mostly followers of Sunni Islam and are demanding more autonomy and independence. The Kurds in Iran could be the last to see any sort of freedom.
Kurdistan is and forever will be the Switzerland of the Middle East. Nowhere have the Kurdish Peshmerga guerrilla freedom fighters, including the PKK, attacked any other ethnic groups. They have always defended their homeland and the basic human rights of the Kurds. Changing the culture of violence and suppression against the Kurds to a diplomatic and peaceful solution with full independence will benefit all of the parties involved including Ankara, Tehran, Baghdad, and Washington and friends. Round table peace proposals should bring prosperity, humanity, and happiness to the region.
It is true that the Kurds in four divided parts of Kurdistan cannot have a general referendum on their own independence, together, on the same day. It is also a fact that in any measure of federation, autonomy or full independence must be blessed by the Western imperial powers. But in reality, the Greater Kurdistan’s independence is not up to them! It is not even up to Turkey or Iran that are occupying the largest proportions of Kurdish land and population. At the end of the day, it is essentially the national obligation of 40 million Kurds to bravely remove any barriers in the road to their total independence. As soon as they speak seriously, dark forces, hindering the Kurdish dream of independence, including ISIS, should vanish. The freedom loving people all over the world, only then, would be happy for Kurdistan, for the Kurds would have achieved full unity and independence at last.
Ahmed, Akbar Shahid and Bobic, Igor. “Rand Paul, Longtime Foe Of Nation Building, Is Ready Now To Redraw The Middle East.” huffingtonpost.com, Posted: 03/11/2015 8:22 pm EDT Updated: 03/12/2015 1:59 pm EDT. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/
Ahmed, Akbar Shahid; Balkhy, Ibrahim; and Conetta, Christine. “Kurds In Iraq And Syria Move Closer Together In ISIS Fight Because Blood ‘Trumps Everything.’”
huffingtonpost.com, Posted: 05/29/2015 1:15 pm EDT Updated: 05/29/2015 1:59 pm EDT. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/kurds-iraq-syria-isis_n_7464780.html
Amanpour, Christiane. “Exclusive Interview: Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani says ‘the time is here’ for self-determination.” amanpour.blogs.cnn.com, June 23rd, 2014, 11:55 AM ET. http:// amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/23/exclusive-iraqi-kurdish-leader-says-the-time-is-here-for-self-determination/
Diamond, Jeremy. “Rand Paul: Give the Kurds a country.” cnn.com, Updated 8:34 AM ET, Wed March 11, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/11/politics/rand-paul-kurds-kurdistan-country/
Drucker, David M. “Foster Freiss hits Rand Paul on national security.” Washington examiner.com, February 17, 2015, 3:26 PM. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/ foster-freiss-hits-rand-paul-on-national-security/article/2560322
Hama, Dilshad. “Sorry the West, Kurds’ Fight is Not Your Fight.” Kurdistan tribune.com, February 27, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/sorry-west-kurds-fight-not-your-fight/
Hama, Dilshad. “Sorry the West, Kurds’ Fight is Not Your Fight.” Kurdistan tribune.com, February 27, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/sorry-west-kurds-fight-not-your-fight/
Jenkins, Philip. “The Case Against a Unified Kurdistan. Encouraging Kurdish secession would only spread regional chaos and strife to those few places still free of it.” the americanconservative.com, September 15, 2014. http://www.theamericanconservative. com/articles/the-case-against-a-unified-kurdistan/
Karadaghi, Rashid. “What Else Would it Take?!” kurdistantribune.com, January 24, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/what-else-would-it-take/
Karadaghi, Rashid. “Will it be Winning the Battles and Losing the War for the Kurds?
kurdistantribune.com, Written on April 5, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/will-it-be-winning-the-battles-and-losing-the-war-for-the-kurds/
Krumholz, Willis L. “Rand Paul Is Right—Give The Kurds A State. The Kurds are ready to be the peaceful, Muslim democracy the Middle East needs.” thefederalist.com, March 12, 2015. http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/12/rand-paul-is-right-give-the-kurds-a-state/
Pipes, Daniel. “Why America Can’t Save the Kurds.” Wall Street Journal, April 11, 1991.
Pipes, Daniel. “Welcome, Kurdistan: A Kurdish state begins to emerge.” Washington times.com, Tuesday, September 9, 2014. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/ sep/9/pipes-welcome-kurdistan/
Pipes, Daniel. “The Case for a Unified Kurdistan.” nationalreview.com, September 16, 2014 12:00 PM. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/388078/case-unified-kurdistan-daniel-pipes
Rothman, Noah. “Rand Paul wants a free Kurdistan, but is that the right course?”
hotair.com, Posted At 5:21 Pm On March 11, 2015. http://hotair.com/archives/2015/ 03/11/rand-paul-wants-a-free-kurdistan-but-is-that-the-right-course/
Saeed, Yerevan. “Kurds and Americans react to Biden’s praise for Iraqi unity.” rudaw.net, April 10, 2015. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/100420153
Silverstein, Ken. “How America’s Chickenshit Foreign Policy Has Betrayed the Kurds, a Major Enemy of ISIS.” observer.com, 05/13/15 2:50pm. http://observer.com/2015/05/ how-americas-chickenshit-foreign-policy-has-betrayed-the-kurds-a-major-enemy-of-isis/
Taylor, Guy. “Kurdish leader says his people will one day declare independence.” Washingtontimes.com, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/ news/2015/may/6/massud-barzani-independence-kurds-is-coming/
Weinberg, Ali. “Biden, Kerry Work the Phones to Unite Iraqi Politicians.” abcnews.go. com, Jul 2, 2014, 5:49 PM ET. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/biden-kerry-work-the-phones-to-unite-iraqi-politicians/
White House, Office of the Vice President. “Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Iraq.” The National Defense University, Washington, D.C., For Immediate Release April 09, 2015, 12:38 P.M. EDT. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/09/ remarks-vice-president-joe-biden-iraq
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.