For the past century, the Kurds have become the world’s largest ethnic minority without a state to call it’s own. The desire for an independent Kurdistan has only created more conflict for an already tremulous region. The Kurdish people live primarily in Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Kurds in Iraq have been subject to mass genocide, victims of Saddam Hussein’s biological and chemical weaponry. Kurds in Turkey are forbidden to speak in their own language. Kurds in Iran are exempt from holding government positions. Such subjugation is not without reason.
This essay explains why there will never be the formation of a free and independent Kurdistan. Certainly, looking at the current state of matters, the end does not seem to be anywhere near. However, incorrigible optimists may claim, that the possibility of American intervention into Saddam’s Iraq, will indefinitely improve the Kurdish situation. Note that this essay does not aim to debate the merits of whether there should or should not be an independent Kurdistan. Instead, it only attempts to exemplify that there will never be one.
First of all, the fundamental geographical implications will be presented; followed by three counter arguments, which will support the potential for a free Kurdistan. Explanations will determine why these misconceptions do not apply in reality. Then, two supporting factors will be presented. This will further prove that the will never be an self-governing Kurdistan.
The 25 million Kurdish people whom form this minority have a culture that is distinctively separate from their Turkish, Arab and Persian neighbors. It is this cultural difference that has created the potential for existing problems today. The Kurds use cultural identity as the basis for setting up their own homeland. But the government of Turkey states that ethnic individuality is a threat to the state. Saddam Hussein also echoes such sentiments by perceiving the Kurdish people as a threat to the “glory of the Arabs”. Hence, his excuse for carrying out the blood-spattered massacres of 1988. With so many dead, how do the Kurds expect to fight off those who antagonize the cause for self-government? After these atrocities, vital human resources were lost. The possibility of a separate Kurdistan declined significantly.
However, historically speaking, the Kurds have inhabited the area for more than 2000 years. For such reasons, some believe that the Turks and Iraqis do not have the same claim to the land. The problem arises when this piece of land (Kurdistan) happens to lie on the borders between Iraq and Turkey. Both Iraq and Turkey are unwilling to carve out land from its own borders to accommodate an independent Kurdistan. This will never happen because this bordering land is crucial to the county currently in occupation. History does not automatically grant one the permission to build a nation. As in Kurdistan, there are prominent issues that will stand in the way. This matter then leads us into the political factor of why a free Kurdistan will not exist.
Some may declare that the world is siding with the Kurdish People. After Saddam Hussein’s widely publicized genocide program against Iraqi Kurds, the USA and its allies helped to establish a safe haven in Northern Iraq. The UN claimed this area as a no-fly zone, out of bounds for Saddam’s forces. It was here that the Kurds achieved a diminutive amount of autonomy, though nowhere near to becoming an independent state. The situation may seem hopeful in light of such support. But we must learn to distinguish Iraqi Kurds from its Turkish neighbors. World superpower, the USA, only backed Iraqi Kurds because they were not in good standing with Saddam’s Iraq.
Their offer of aid was only granted under egocentric purposes. On the other hand, Turkey is a NATO ally. It also hosts the American Incrilik airbase, one critical to any US attack within the region. The USA, will not, under any circumstance, provide support to Kurds living in Turkey, (having been labeled as “terrorists”). Why would the US help some 10 million “Turkish-terrorists” unless they intend to consciously worsen US-Turkish relations? The USA is not all charitable, all for self-determination, all goodwill ambassador, as it would claim itself to be. Behind every course of action taken, there is a selfish, underlying motive. Without international support, how can the Kurdish people self-govern?
To put it brashly, the Kurdish people are just pawns in a bigger game. Why should Turkish-Iraqi relations be jeopardized to acclimatize a tribal minority? With Saddam Hussein capable of the atrocities previously committed, is it worth war, the possibility of thermonuclear war, just to make way for a free Kurdistan? In addition, the Kurds also have domestic problems of their own; there is a sharp disparity between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Tansu Ciller, Turkish Prime minister, sums up the Turkish attitude towards the inner division, “Turkey has no Kurdish problem, just a terrorist problem” If the kurds want to be taken seriously, they have to resolve these domestic problems. Instead of allowing the perpetual existence of internal feudalism, they must present themselves as a unified sovereignty with common goals and common grounds. It is only until then, that it’s neighbors will reluctantly enter discussion. Even discussion itself may end without a compromise for the Kurds.
Furthermore, it is eminent for Turkey, Iran and Iraq to retain this land? A country’s welfare is measured by capital, and not size. However, the looming possibility of an autonomous Kurdistan, ties in directly with possession of wealth, and consequently, the general quality of life. Kurdistan is a strategically important area for both Turkey and Iraq because it contains indispensable oil and water resources. Trade in the area has been stagnant for the last decade or so, due to the UN trade embargo imposed upon Iraq in 1991. If there was to be a free Kurdistan, then the area will develop into a flourishing center for commerce. A prosperous and self-sufficient Kurdistan would then pose as a direct threat against its once brutal, oppressive neighbors. At this point, any nearby country will take careful precautions not to let the above scenario become a reality. At this moment, the world is dominated by material wealth, and unfortunately for the Kurds, it’s in the hands of those who denounce a free Kurdistan.
The USA, Turkey, Iraq, Iran…where do the Kurdish people stand along this ladder of political hierarchy? The above facts have proved that they are at the very bottom. The cruel realism about life in this world is that evolution does not, and will never permit a free and independent Kurdistan. Why should it? When these dissidents are sandwiched between a tortured existence, and after decades of struggle, a dying faith in life itself.
TimeAsia, May 13th 02, volume 159, #18 and Sept 16th 02, volume 160, #10