From Egypt to Erbil, jumping over Rojava (West Kurdistan)

Amjed Rasheed

By Amjed Rasheed:

This article discusses the current Kurdish domestic politics in Başur (South Kurdistan), the self ruled region, which has been influenced by regional politics, mainly Syrian and Egyptian politics. It discusses the negative effects that Kurdistan may get from the so-called Arab Spring, which has in my view become an Arab winter.

First, let’s wish peace for Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. Yet, it is ironic to see Kurds supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt these days, and not supporting their blood brothers in Rojava in their fight against the Al-Qaida terrorist organisation. After the coup d’état of General Al-Sisi in July 3, 2013, the Brotherhood in Egypt started to sit-in as a form of civil disobedience for their legitimate elected president, Muhammed Morsi. Unfortunately, these gatherers were brutally cracked down by the army on August 14, 2013. As a result, and quite naturally, the Islamic world, including the Kurdistan Region, showed sympathy over the events.

However, this sympathy towards Egypt and not towards Rojava in Başur is seen as a sign of instability and division. I raise this concern from a perception that Başur is a valuable region and its security environment is fragile. In addition, there is an issue of identity crisis in Başur. You talk to a Yazidi and you may find out that he or she feels a belonging, not to the Kurdish nation, but to being Yazidi and to Yazidism. Same goes for a Muslim who could show sympathy to Arab Muslims in Egypt, but not to Kurds in Rojava.

The politics in the Middle East region is very complex and costly. It is driven by beliefs, values and ideologies, not by rationality. Therefore, it is very likely for people to be influenced by it. For example, we all have watched on the news that weeks ago Kurds from the Kurdistan Region were fighting alongside  the  Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Kurds in Rojava. Today, we see Kurds protesting and posting on social media in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and not for Kurds in Rojava. It is heart-rending to see this. This regional politics may possibly lead to a quagmire of long and wide armed conflict that Başur could become a part of.  The relative security the region enjoys would be threatened if the Al-Nusra front and ISIS controlled Syria.

The last point that I want to raise here is the issue of social media. We live in a very open world and risk becoming victims of these social media. Therefore, we need to be very cautious in using them.  Moreover, these social media have shown their ability to create negative narrative images about others. These narratives images are not always correct. They could bring hatred and hostility instead. A single post for or against a religious trend may create a tension.  I quote Albert Einstein here: “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity.” Therefore, there is a need for a critical use of these types of media and try to avoid posting or tweeting for or against Sunnis or Shiites, or about Islamism and modernity, Christianity or Yazidism, and so on.

In sum, supporting the regional religious trends brings instability and division to Başur. As Mearshiemer says, God only helps those who help themselves*.

*Mearshiemer, Tragedy of Great Powers, 2007.

This article was first published in Kurdish by EvroPress.

Amjed Rasheed is currently a research scholar at Durham University, UK. His research is on IR theory and the role of personality in shaping states’ behavior in World Politics. The contexts he works on are Iraq and Iran. He has previously been educated at Glasgow University in the UK and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. He has experiences in curriculum development and teaching.

Copyright © 2013

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