Will it be Winning the Battles and Losing the War for the Kurds?

By Dr. Rashid Karadaghi:

Peshmargas fighting ISIS

Peshmargas fighting ISIS (Pic – IBT)

I fear for Kurdistan. I fear for the future of my people the Kurds. Given past experiences and current indications, I fear that, in the end, when this bloody war with ISIS is over — and it will be over some day — we will come away empty-handed despite the huge sacrifices our people have made to defeat ISIS, including, most notably, the precious lives of our fallen heroes, the Peshmerga, and the sheltering of about two million refugees and displaced people from Iraq and the so-called “disputed areas” despite dwindling resources due to the Iraqi government’s refusal to deliver to Kurdistan its share of the constitutionally-allocated budget as punishment for daring not to kneel to Arab Iraq but strive to be the master of its own fate.

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 question is whether the Western democracies, which embody the idea of freedom and human dignity and human rights for their own people, will be brave enough to stand with the oppressed or continue in their century-long shameful way and back the oppressor. The West is not just a bystander in this struggle; it determines the outcome to a large extent. I believe that it is the moral obligation of Britain and France, the two Western powers that put the Kurds in the box, to contribute to their deliverance rather than stand against it.

I fear that the braveries of the Peshmerga and our female and male fighters in Rojawa (Syrian-occupied Kurdistan) and their tales of heroism in Kobani and elsewhere in occupied Kurdistan against the forces of evil and darkness will soon become a thing of the past, something for history books – and perhaps a movie or two—something that this generation will tell the next one about. But as far as concrete gains for our people, despite their sacrifices and their crucial role in the war against ISIS, I fear that it will make little difference. It has always been this way: we do the sweating and others reap the benefits.

We will continue to wonder why the Western democracies, that want freedom and democracy for their own populations regardless of race, color, gender, and national origin, have chosen for a whole century to support dictatorial regimes occupying Kurdistan, instead of supporting the Kurds in their quest for freedom. What is even more surprising is that the Kurdish oppressors are not hiding their deeply-held anti-West sentiments and their hatred of most Western values of freedom and equal rights. By contrast, the Kurds, as a whole, are known for embracing Western values of freedom and democracy and human rights. The West is choosing hatred from Kurdish oppressors over love from the Kurds. We challenge the West to do the right thing by the Kurds just as they have done in many parts of the world.

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. That scheme of a hundred years ago is mostly responsible for all the Kurdish blood that has been shed by the occupiers of Kurdistan. It is this map that is used today as justification for not providing the Peshmerga with weapons directly. The British and French governments and people have the moral obligation to make up for the crime that was perpetrated in their names a hundred years ago by supporting an independent Kurdistan today.

The concept of “territorial integrity” has been one of the main roadblocks in the way of the Kurds getting their legitimate right to statehood. The West is clinging, against all logic, to the territorial integrity of a state that was put together by mistake by outsiders to bring together by force a group of vastly different people who hate each other and don’t want to live together under the same roof! Shouldn’t we expect the heirs to the civilizations that produced the Magna Charta and the French revolution and the U.S. Constitution to undo the knot that has been plaguing the region for a century?

Politicians and government leaders all over praise the Kurds and the Peshmerga for fighting ISIS on behalf of the world so they won’t have to fight them on their soil, yet Western countries deliver weapons and ammunitions to the Peshmerga, who are doing most of the fighting against ISIS and paying the heaviest price for it, through Baghdad on the pretext that they cannot deal with the Kurds directly and Baghdad sends the Peshmerga only a fraction of the weapons intended for them because of its deep enmity towards the Kurds. 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?

As for the Kurds themselves, they must stand their ground at negotiations as they have done on the battlefield. It has been said that whatever the Kurds gain on the battlefield they lose at the negotiating table. This is due to their trusting nature, for which they have paid dearly. To achieve their goal, they must stand firm on Kurdish demands and not fall for the tricks the other side plays. The Kurds, for instance, are now paying the price for their indecisive position during the framing of the constitution of the “new” Iraq in 2003-2004 on a host of issues such as the way they receive their share of the budget, the designation of historically Kurdish areas as “disputed territories,” and holding a referendum in Kurdistan to see if the Kurdish people wanted to stay as part of Iraq. By giving in on these and other issues, the Kurdish negotiators endangered the future of their people. Kurdistan’s share of the budget should have come directly to them from the oil revenues and not left up to the whims of Baghdad, which is the case now. Equally important, when the Arabs didn’t agree to holding a referendum in Kurdistan within twelve tears, the Kurdish delegates should have walked out and returned home. The Kurdish people cannot afford making any more mistakes. It is time they negotiated with the same confidence and resolve they display on the battlefield.

 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.

4 Responses to Will it be Winning the Battles and Losing the War for the Kurds?
  1. jim
    April 5, 2015 | 10:10

    You have said nothing about the rice of political Islam and hugely corrupt political parties in kurdistan that western countries maybe worry about or don’t trust.

  2. Kuvan Bamarny
    April 5, 2015 | 10:13

    History tells us that ,western world value neighboring countries especially turkey and Iraq, more than Kurds due the historical,geographical ,economical and political importance of Turkey in the region and their interests,and the ties of the Turkey with the western world.
    Western world claims to be friends with Kurds and advocate the recognition of the rights of Kurds but I do not think Western world will ever abandon the side of countries lie turkey or Arabs and press them hard enough to recognize the rights of Kurds as if they do the neighboring countries like Turkey and Iraq would rebel and hurt the interests of the western world in the region.
    As nations that their foundation have been built on Judo-Christian countries,the western world do not want to see the establishment of a new independent Islamic state as Kurdistan ,against their values and interest in the region.They would perceive that as a threat to their allies,interests and values in the region.
    On the other hand,since the neighboring countries such as Iran ,Turkey and Arabs are Moslems,they do not want to see the establishment of a new independent secular state against their Islamic values and interest at their gates.They have been analyzing the policies and direction of Kurds as to which direction they goes.So far they have not been as happy and satisfied as they should with the Kurdish polices towards them.
    They have fear and concerns that an Independent Kurdistan might gradually side with the western world and as a result that would create a state of ideological and interests conflicts in the region.They also have concerns that Kurds might join Nato and host military bases at their gate which for them ,it means Kurdistan would be a threat to their securties.They also perceive that an independent liberal kurdistan would be a source of Judo-Christian values and influence to their societies.However, I believe that the establishment of diplomatic assertive relations that are based on mutual interests and respect are the way towards eastern and western world
    There is some hope and chance for Kurds to be recognized by their Islamic neighbors,Iran Turkey and Arabs,as an independent state, if their interests and ideology do not conflict with the Islamic neighboring states.However,you have the issue of Sunny and Shia Moslem and their effect on the independence of Kurdistan which is a different debate .
    The best possible way forward for Kurds is to make sure their rights are guaranteed and protected .Decentralization of power in Baghdad and creation of a federal system ,is the solution to the problem of budget, disputed territories and oil revenues.

    Kuvan Bamarny/Duhok

  3. Mustafa
    April 5, 2015 | 22:14

    Will the US Department of Defence dispatch a special force unit or train Kurdish Peshmarga Forces to save the estimated lives of 4000 Yezedi female capitives in terrorist ISIS custody? The international community is silent. Unfortunately,there is no other country able/willing to perform such a humanitarian mission. Where is NATOs reaction? Or Arab Leagues?
    Apparently HRs are no longer their concern. Thank you USDoD.

  4. David
    April 6, 2015 | 00:45

    Dear Mamosta,
    By all respect, I think we owe our kids and this generation honesty and the truth. Although not easy to see I believe what is weakening the Kurdish position and is damaging our youth sacrifices and hard work for freedom in own land is NOT coming from outside. It comes from within and goes back to our own attitudes toward each other.
    As long as that does not change, no one will invest in us as an United Nation and strong entity. In American or German News when they introduce us Kurds to their public they always (to be accurate about us) bring up the issue of the inner bloody fightings in our rows. Not difficult to see the (true nature of) relationship between KRG with PKK or PUK and KDP and so on. Its a shame to see the KRG best friend is evil Shia Mullahs who are our enemy in Rojhalat and thei occupation of our land was in similar style as DAESH does today (with PUK and KDP helping them). Those things Mamosta barez should worry you which which need to change. We need to stop to be selfish, one sided and need to find a way to love each other instead of loving a fictitious entity. We need to come to realize we are Kurdistan every single of us, the people of Kurdistan, not a piece land.

    Lets redefine it; Kurdistan is where Kurdish people live.

    best regards

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