What Else Would it Take?!



By Dr. Rashid Karadaghi:

A performance of Macbeth without Macbeth, Hamlet without Hamlet!

On January 23rd, a conference of the US-led coalition against ISIS was held in London hosted by the U.S. and Britain and attended by over twenty countries to discuss ways and means of fighting the terrorist organization. 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 (along with the Kurdish freedom-fighters in Kobani in Syrian-occupied Kurdistan). Yet, for some mysterious reason, known only to the conference organizers, no representative of the Kurds and their brave Peshmerga was invited to the conference. It has been said that the more things change the more they stay the same. Again, like always, the Kurds did not have a seat at the table; they cannot have it even if they move the Himalayas. They must not, for the world would otherwise crumble. That honor is reserved for those who deserve it more! How ironic! One wonders exactly what else would it take for this heartless world to extend to the Kurds the recognition that they so well deserve?!

President Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government issued a statement expressing his deep disappointment at what can only be interpreted as a total disregard of the sacrifices of the people of Kurdistan and the Peshmerga and the crucial role they have played in the war against ISIS. President Barzani also expressed his displeasure at the fact that in this war the people of Kurdistan are the ones who have made the sacrifices while others are taking the credit for it. He goes on to say that, “The people of Kurdistan deserve to have their own representatives at a forum like this to reflect the reality and the views of the people of Kurdistan and their brave Peshmerga. The brunt of this war has been borne mostly by the people of Kurdistan and nobody else but them can truly represent them and convey their views and give voice to their concerns at such international forums.”

While it is true that the U.S. and allied airstrikes have been indispensible in fighting back ISIS advances, it must never be forgotten that it is the Peshmerga who have been killed and wounded. And these are not a mercenary army but Kurdish patriots who die in defense of their people and their country.

In the war against ISIS, over one thousand Peshmerga have so far paid with their lives and four thousand more have been wounded or maimed. And we don’t know how many more will have to give the most precious thing they have before this war is over. While it is true that the Peshmerga are defending their own country and their own people, what is also true is that they are fighting ISIS on behalf of the whole world, for ISIS is not a threat just to the people of Kurdistan but to people everywhere, and if the Peshmerga don’t fight them, somebody else will have to. Moreover, despite its limited resources these days, Kurdistan has welcomed more than a million-and-a-half refugees and displaced people fleeing the ISIS terror.

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. Iraq is as much an enemy of the people of Kurdistan as ISIS is and the “brotherhood” of the Iraqis is a trite and tired cliche and deceives no one. Iraq begrudges the Peshmerga their victories over ISIS. When high-ranking Iraqi officials speak, they never give any credit to the Peshmerga; instead, they glorify the imaginary “victories” of the defeated Iraqi army. Iraq does not even give Kurdistan and the Peshmerga their fair share of the weapons it is receiving from the coalition countries, hoping that the Peshmerga would be defeated so their army won’t look that bad.

Had Kurdistan been an independent state — as it should have been a hundred years ago had it been up to President Wilson and not to the British and French colonialists — it would have had a seat at or near the top of the table at this conference because it has been doing most of the heavy lifting in this existential war against ISIS. But as it is, the people of Kurdistan not only didn’t sit at or near the head of the table in London; they weren’t invited to sit anywhere at all!

It is abundantly clear that some pernicious, powerful, invisible hands are determined to forever deny the Kurds any recognition whatsoever that they deserve. How else can anyone explain this slap in the face? Some of the countries attending the conference have contributed little and almost all not in blood but merely in treasure, while the people of Kurdistan have paid with their blood — and plenty of it. Even worse, some countries attending the conference are accused of having had a hand in creating ISIS in the first place. Can the conference hosts please explain these contradictions?

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. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that they will come away empty-handed. This conference was a solid proof of that. Such is the lot of the Kurds. And such are the ways of the world, a world without values despite its lofty declarations; a world that, despite its lip service to fair play, still has a long ways to go to deserve not our contempt but our respect.

Dr Rashid Karadaghi is the author of The Azadi English-Kurdish Dictionary, the most comprehensive English-Kurdish dictionary ever published. A retired teacher and translator living in the USA, he writes many articles on the Kurdish issue.

5 Responses to What Else Would it Take?!
  1. Jan Best de Vries
    January 24, 2015 | 13:51

    What else would it take? It is as it is. As long as political tensions between parties in Bashur and Rojava dominate the scene, a pro-IS and anti-Kurdish Turkey and an anti-Kurdish Iraq will be invited to international conferences and the KRG not. What is lacking is unity among the Kurds and this is the reason why they can be missed at international conferences of any kind. It’s just as simple as that. The world, whatever this may represent, would in fact be shocked when the regional authorities of Bashur and Rojava would decide that the occupation of Mosul by IS is unacceptable for the safety of both Kurdish regions and unilaterally would attack and take it with combined KRG Peshmerga, YPG and YPJ forces. For even this small proof of an independent decision by Kurds would endanger the creation by the West of the states Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran after 1919 on which all Kurds are dependent nowadays. That’s what it is all about. And that the poor American Woodrow Wilson has been tricked by Clemenceau of France and Lloyd George of England in 1919 is still not known in the States, for, with due respect for our allies from the US, historical knowledge is not the strongest side of Americans, as Dr. Rashid Karadaghi himself may know best…. Nevertheless, attack!

  2. Yasin Aziz
    January 24, 2015 | 16:46

    We should we Kurds bother about recapturing Mousl, even it is not within KRG map, it has been Arabised since 1918. We should only defend KRG borders, as they do not value the bloodshed, the loss of life we have been giving for the last 90 years.

    • Jan Best de Vries
      January 24, 2015 | 23:50

      Dear Yasin Aziz,
      That’s exactly what has happened from 1919 onwards, that originally Kurdish areas have on purpose been arabized by the Arab regimes of Iraq and Syria. I recently was told in Rojava that the Arab population which has lived there for centuries should, like other minorities in the same position, freely and happily continue to do so in its three predominantly Kurdish cantons, but that those Arabs sent north by the Assads should return to southern Syria from where they came. And didn’t I hear Mr Bakhtiar at the Free University in Amsterdam tell exactly the same about the recently retaken town of Kirkuk after the fall of Saddam Hussein? So let me make clear what I meant when I wrote “attack!”: Mosul, originally belonging to Kurdish territory, should just as well not only be retaken from the artificial state of Iraq, but should likewise be protected by the Peshmergas in order to widen the area between Bashur and Rojava. Otherwise there will remain forever some small Kurdish pockets in West Asia instead of a geographically continuous Kurdistan, don’t you think so?
      Best regards

  3. Amy L Beam
    January 25, 2015 | 14:41

    “It is abundantly clear that some pernicious, powerful, invisible hands are determined to forever deny the Kurds any recognition whatsoever that they deserve.”
    Excellent explanation and analysis. Let’s not forget the Kurdish PKK who opened the way from Shengal Mountain to Kurdistan and Turkey for the Yazidis to flee to safety after ISIS brutally attacked Shingal Aug 3, 2014. And then the PKK defended and took back Maxmur Camp in Iraq, and much more. The media remains under a threat to write that 3-letter acronym. Yesterday in Siirt, Turkey, police confiscated petitions to free Ocalan and arrested 4 people, including an elected official. Will the world ever “get it” that Kurds are the west’s best hope for democracy, secularism, and equal rights for women in the Middle East?

  4. Zoltan Spin
    January 25, 2015 | 16:20

    What the peoples of civilized countries want is for Kurds to unite, and do it under the political project of syrian Kurd cantons.
    This, with the shamely defeat of Erdogan in Kobane, will give Kurdistan an undisputed and glorious place as a Nation.
    And for us to repair the shame of not sustaining you as you deserved.

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