On the Kurdish Question: Interview with Dr Sardar Aziz

Dr Sadar Aziz was interviewed by Aras Ahmed Mhamad:

Dr Sadar Aziz

Dr Sadar Aziz

1. Kurds are the largest nation without having an independent national territory. How does that make you feel as a Kurd?

It makes me feel nude: I mean I have no layer which protects me from the danger of the outside. If the state is a container, as they claim, I am not contained. There is a paradox between feeling free and feeling vulnerable. But the absence of state does not translate into freedom of the state; contrary to that it means being in the state of abandonment.

He who has been banned is not, in fact, simply set outside the law and made indifferent to it but rather abandoned by it, that is, exposed and threatened on the threshold in which life and law, outside and inside, become indistinguishable. It is literally not possible to say whether the one who has been banned is outside or inside the juridical order, as Agamben puts it. Thus, in this regard, being a Kurd is a very complex feeling.

As a Kurd you miss the basic form of being present and being represented in the world i.e. throughKurd flagthe state, therefore you are neither present nor represented, you are an absent figure. This also means a denied figure. Personally for me, after having left Kurdistan, being a Kurd was a source of inspiration rather than an impediment.

 2. The 1991 uprising has brought self-autonomy for the Iraqi Kurds and most of the Kurd-inhabitant cities in Syrian Kurdistan are under the control of the Kurds living in those cities. Do you think similar uprising are expected in Turkey and Iran?

Not in Turkey. The uprising in Iraq and Syria became possible when the central states were weakened. Currently Turkey is only getting stronger. However, Kurds in the North of Kurdistan are the most advanced in term of organization and structure and one could argue in terms of the world view as well. But I cannot foresee a repetition of the Iraq and Syrian case in Turkey. Hopefully the peace process will solve the Turkish problem with the Kurds.

I say this because it is the Turks who have a problem not the Kurds. Turkey’s Kurdish policy is about how to approach an issue inappropriately called the “Kurdish problem” instead of the “Kurds’ demands and struggle for their rights and liberties”. Thus, this has to do with the definition of the issue. It’s no secret that there are different definitions and, therefore, different perspectives on this issue in the state organization and public sphere.

It is the Turks that should address the problem first among themselves and then together with the Kurds. Turks should address questions of tolerance, difference, acceptance and get accustomed to the existence of Kurds and many other minorities in Turkey. The outdated French model of governing: one centre, one language, one culture, is like an expired medicine which harms more than it cures.

3. Throughout history, Kurdish people in Syria, Iran, Turkey and Iraq have been oppressed and tyrannized. Internal conflicts, civil war and lack of thoughtful politicians have contributed to the partition of the Kurdish nation. What is your comment on that?

Alas, there is a big gap between the Kurdish willingness to fight and the Kurdish willingness to conceptualize its struggle. To redeem this gap, which becomes more and more demanding, there needs to be a shift from the glorification of fighters and the fighting for strategic thinking. There is no use of heroic fighting and losing it all on the negotiation table. The Kurdish intellectual movement is still in an embryonic status, especially when it comes to the area of geopolitics and strategic thinking, it badly needs to develop. Unfortunately, the Kurdish political leaders either don’t value this or they are unable to realize it or basically they detest it.

United Kurdistan4. South Kurdistan consists of different people from diverse religious, political, and cultural backgrounds; this has not been an issue to divide people. What is your sense of this and do you have any concern for the future?

From now on we should try to establish a social contract based on shared history and togetherness. This contract will serve as a base of nationality in KRG. Kurdish history is not a history of anger and hatred, thus the concepts that developed in an anger and hatred milieu should not be brought without rehabilitation into the Kurdish political and social milieu. By anger and hatred milieu I mean the West, as Sloterdijk’s book Zorn (anger) and Zeit (time) shows.

 5. What do you think is the role and obligation of the Kurdistan Regional Government at this historic moment toward the Syrian Kurds? What is your anticipation of the post-Assad Syria?

I think I have written about this in one of my columns in Awene newspaper. KRG has to work on many levels: on humanitarian, political, geopolitics and economic levels. It is fiercely important that Kurds rule themselves in Western Kurdistan. We already see the positive implication of that. In Turkey the peace process started again because of that. The more Kurds have power, the more they are closer to achieve their aims.

It was a wrong and regrettable move when KRG tried to counter balance PYD on Turkey’s demand. Now Turkey can deal with PYD directly. The peace process in Northern Kurdistan will have an impact on the West and obviously also on the South. Now KRG should act more constructively in western Syria.

Dr Sardar Aziz is an author and academic. He is currently visiting lecturer at University College Cork Ireland. His Ph.D. is on Governments. He has a regular column in the Kurdish newspaper ‘Awene’ and regularly appears on local TV debating Kurdish politics. 

Aras Ahmed Mhamad is a freelance writer and translator. He is the Founder and Deputy Editor of SMART magazine, an independent English magazine that focuses on ‘Literature, Language, Society’. He is the Top Student of College of Languages at the Department of English/ University of Human Development, 2012.

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