By Dr. Saman Shali:
Every nation has the right to have a unified identity. Some have a unified identity under the umbrella of nationalism; others have it through religious solidarity; and still others have their solidarity as part of an economic bloc. For example, one understanding of the Arab unified identity is “United Arab nation”, while the European Union has its identity under the umbrella of an economic union.
Most Islamic nations are divided between Sunnis and Shiites. A Sunni Crescent begins with Turkey and sweeps southward toward Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, encompassing the Gulf countries (the old Ottoman Empire). Turkey and Saudi Arabia usually compete to take the leadership of this crescent.
Iran leads a Shiite Crescent (the old Safavid Empire), which begins with Iran and moves westward toward Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Some maintain that the Crescent begins with Pakistan and Afghanistan, spilling over to the Gulf countries. This Crescent will have a new border with Israel (which angers the Americans and Europeans). In this regard the Iranian President Advisor Ali Younis has stated that “the Middle East is an Iranian Empire and Baghdad is its capital”.
The Shiites of Iraq, however, talk about a Fertile Crescent that begins with Kuwait, spreading to Iraq and part of Iran, going West to Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt, also touching a small part of Turkey.
A quick study of these various crescents provides a revealing picture as to who supports the Islamic State “DASH” and who does not.
Finally, there is one more important Crescent in the Middle East—the Kurdistani Crescent, whose aim is to unite all parts of what has previously been referred to as the Greater Kurdistan region. It begins in Northern Kurdistan (or southeast Turkey), encompasses northeastern Iran, takes in the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, moving West into northeastern Syria.
In comparing the Kurdistani Crescent with the others, one can easily see that the Sunni and Shiite crescents are based on Islamic religious differences. A quick review of the history of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the development of the Kurdistan Region in north Iraq shows that the Kurdistani Crescent is based on a multinational consensus which believes in freedom, human rights, democracy, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence.
The geography of the Kurdistani Crescent reveals that it encompasses a region for peace and stability, because it separates the other Crescents from one another. Partly due to their past experience of living as an ethnic minority in several other nation-states, Kurdistanis believe in living together in a multi-national region with multiple religions and ideologies that enable maximum freedom for all citizens and inhabitants. This is the only solid foundation for those living inside the Kurdistani Crescent, one that will enable them to build a strong infrastructure, lasting for generations to come.
We should not forget that there is another crescent in the region—the Jewish Crescent. This Crescent falls between the Nile and the Euphrates and is based on the unique religious beliefs and customs of Jews. Since most Jews living in the Kurdistani region immigrated to Israel after World War Two, the Jewish Crescent does not cross the Kurdistan Crescent.
The fierce fighting in response to the ISIS threat has united the Kurdistani people. Many factors, including the ISIS threat, have made it possible for Kurdistanis to work together optimistically to build a brighter future for themselves. This is the time for our leadership to put forth a unified strategic plan for the people of Kurdistan, just as we see others doing for their crescents. The following points may be useful as a foundation for consolidating the Kurdistani Crescent:
- Build trust between people and the leadership.
- Unify the Kurdistani House in all parts of Kurdistan.
- Merge the Peshmarga forces under one flag. (Same as NATO forces).
- Establish a national security agency.
- Launch an independent economic strategic plan. (Like the European Union).
- Create a united national strategic plan for people in all parts of Kurdistan.
- Elect a national parliament for all parts of Kurdistan. (Like the European Union).
- Create a new constitution that guarantees equality and equal rights for all people of Kurdistan.
- Comply with and respect all the United Nations principles.
- Have full confidence in living together and respect our differing ideas in politics, religions, and cultures.
- Believe completely in the main principles of peace, freedom and democracy.
- Enable and support the rule of women and youth in politics, government, civil society and the community.
- Respect the new borders of Kurdistan and restrain from meddling in our neighbors’ internal affairs.
The world respects united, brave, and free nations. People of Kurdistan are free and brave, but unfortunately they are not united.
Today people refer to the Kurdistan of Turkey, the Kurdistan of Iran, the Kurdistan of Iraq and the Kurdistan of Syria. But where is the Kurdistan for the people of Kurdistan?
Dr. Saman Shali is a former President of the Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC)