Kurdistani intellectuals must unite now - lest history should repeat itself as a tragic farce! - Part I

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
  • 24/09/2003 00:00:00

Part I

We do not have an opportunity to be free. We are free and we only need to claim our freedom, to proclaim our freedom, to protect our freedom. And to be ready to live in peace and fraternity with every one for our freedom or to die with dignity and pride for our freedom.

What are not free are the minds of the present “leaders”. What is not free is the will of Kurdistani intellectuals.

Why do we spend months and years studying history? To learn lessons, to comprehend our structural weaknesses and strengths, to understand causes and effects, to know the operation of politics, to realise the impact of geopolitics and power politics. By studying history we in fact deal with the present. We try to reach at rational models for reading the present and foresee the future especially when a history turns a whole cycle and is about to repeat itself in one way or another.

History lessons: self-destructive follies

Yes history is actually repeating itself now in South Kurdistan. And if the Kurdish leaders are not extremely careful and if the intellectuals do not play their courageous constructive role, there is possibility that this repetition will be, if not a graphic tragedy, then an ideological farce. We can call this a tragic farce or a farcical tragedy. Let us remember and rethink a little.

The greatest chance for the Kurdish nation in the last century was after the First World War.

But the Kurds then, that is their leaders and intellectuals, did not work for their own nation-building but for building their enemy’s nations!

The Kurds in the north, even after the terrible massacres and deportations of chauvinistic Young Turks, naively believed in Kamal Ataturk’s claims of Islamic unity, brotherhood and building a new country for both Kurds and Turks. They fought and sacrificed a lot to make Ataturk become victorious, build his racist Turkish state and then use all the forces and resources of his Kurd-supported state, to eliminate the Kurds, banish their history, destroy their culture and language and prevent them even to express their identity as Kurds. The reward, the result was that even the words Kurds and Kurdistan became punishable crimes.

It was a similar story in the south. After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, there was no Iraq. There was Mesopotamia, the provinces of Basra and Baghdad and there was Southern Kurdistan as a separate province of Mosul. But Kurdish intellectuals like Mustafa Pasha Yamulki, Taufiq Wahbi, Muhammad Amin Zaki Beg, etc became ethusiasticallly engaged in creating Iraq: its army and civil administration. When the establishment of the state was completed under the British mandate as a predominantly Arab state with its own army, security apparatus, education system, bureaucracy, economy and foreign relations, it soon became a chauvinistic Arab state and started Arabization as far back as 1932. And the rest of the tragic history of oppression, enslavement and genocide in both Iraq and Turkey is well known.

The morale of the story: the Kurdish leaders and intellectual elite instead of trying to create their own Kurdish state made incredible sacrifices and spent all their energy, effort, intelligence, and blood to create other states which would later destroy them.

The price of these follies has been paid heavily by generation after generation of our people: a tragedy of 80 years of enslavement, blood, suffering, lack of dignity and basic human rights.

Now, my God. After 80 years of enslavement, genocide and destruction, after Halabja and Anfal, we have the greatest God-made, Globe-made opportunity. We do not have an opportunity to be free. We ARE free and we only need to claim our freedom, to proclaim our freedom, to protect our freedom. And to be ready to live in peace and fraternity with every one for our freedom or to die with dignity and pride for our freedom.

What are not free are the minds of the present “leaders”. What is not free is the will of Kurdish intellectuals.

No excuses now!

But if the Kurdish leaders and intellectuals of 1920s could have excuses due to the Kurdish society’s backwardness, lack of sufficient organisation and power, the quantitative weakness of intellectuals, lack of information and communication technology, and lack of previous experience of nation-building, what excuses do Kurdish leaders and intellectuals have today to fail this present test?

Politicians in any country and system follow their own interests. They have their own clans and entourage. With the tempting prospects of becoming quick millionaires with huge money-making opportunities in Iraq, it is not impossible, though morally it should be, to witness Kurdish leaders’ shameless drive for Iraqiness at the expense of our blood, our dignity, our martyrs, our future, our children, our independence and secured national future.

But it is not forgivable if Kurdish intellectuals can be brainwashed by these self-interested opportunistic people and if they, out of tribal sympathy or fractional hatred, ally themselves with this or that faction and ultimately keep silent at this very serious historical juncture where our independence is sold out and our dignity is insulted every day.

How can Kurdish intellectuals fail to feel and see that our nation’s dignity is trivialised and our identity is trampled upon at this every historic opportunity when there is afforded opportunity to restore our dignity, reaffirm our identity and realise our independence?

Kurdistan and the Arab League

Let me just give two examples:

Some say that having an Iraqi foreign minister, who is a Kurd, is a sign of increasing Kurdish influence in Iraq? Is it? If it is, for what purpose is being used?

The main reason that led to 11 September 1961 Kurdish revolt against the Iraqi state was that the Iraqi constitution in its second clause stated, “Iraq is a part of the Arab nation.” Accordingly Iraqi Arab state was keen to erase all traces of Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish identity. Iraq’s membership of the Arab League was and is an embodiment of this racist Arabism.

So what was the first achievement of Iraqi “Kurdish” foreign minister?

Did he, logically in the spirit of new democracy and openness, insist that Iraq is the country of Arabs and Kurds and cannot be a member of the Arab League unless the league changes its racist organisation and identity to allow the recognition not only of the Kurdish nation in Iraq and Syria but also of many other nations in Arab nation-states such as Amazighi nation, people of South Sudan, Druzes and Copts? The Arab League as a useless ideological racist Arabist institution has existed only to promote Arabism and Arab racism against colonised non-Arab nations. This league has a criminal record in supporting Iraqi Ba’thists’ genocide against our nation in Southern Kurdistan and supporting Syrian Ba’thists’ racist Arabising policies in Western Kurdistan.

So what did the Foreign Minister say in Cairo?

Did he create a sensation by insisting that Egypt should come clean and investigate its criminal role in collaborating with Iraqi Ba’thists in trafficking innocent Anfaled Kurdish girls for brothels in Egypt? Even if this issue is no more than an allegation, isn’t it worth investigating? And who should follow up and raise this issue if not Kurdish leaders themselves? If you do not defend your dignity, people are right to think you are a people without dignity. But this issue is not in fact just an allegation. The names of 18 Kurdish girls between the ages 14 and 27 sold to Egyptians have been revealed in a secret Iraqi document. And the surviving members of their families have validated the names.

These are the names of the girls and women and their age:

- Galawej Adel Rahim (age 14)

- Chiman Nazim Abas (age 22)

- Leyla Abas Jawhar (age 21)

- Lamiah Nazim Omar (age 19)

- Bahman Shukir Mustafa (age 26)

- Khusaran Abdulla Tawfiq (age 20)

- Qadriya Ahmed Ibrahim (age 17)

- Golmalek Ibrahim Ali (age 19)

- Khawla Ahmed Fakhradeen (age 25)

- Esmat Kader Aziz (age 24)

- Najiba Hassan Ali (age 18)

- Hasiba Amin Ali (age 29)

- Shiler Hassan Ali (age 20)

- Shukriya Rustem Mohammad (age 27)

- Habiba Hidayat Ibrahim (age 15)

- Kuwestan Abas Maulud (age 26)

- Serwa Othman Karam (age 17)

- Suza Majeed (age 22)

Kurdishmedia.com which first published this news in English said the following about this issue on 11 August 2003:

“The document proves the Arab dimension of the Anfal campaign, thereby raising several questions which could place additional strain on Kurdish-Arab relations. Were other Arab states involved in the campaign and did they help to conceal the evidence?

Until these questions are answered to the satisfaction of the Kurdish people, Kurdish-Arab relations should be placed on hold. Kurds should not deal with any Arab state, least of all with Egypt.”

This is what Kurdishmedia.com representing the true feelings and opinions of all honourable Kurds said back in August 2003. And this is what any nation with slightest sense of dignity would do. But what happened? What did Iraqi Foreign Minister did in this respect?

Iraq, Arabism and the Kurds

I do not want to comment on this any more. I leave it for the judgement of every conscious and conscientious Kurd. But I just want to give two examples of the frantic joy of racist Arabists that at this very historical juncture when the anachronistic racist Arab order is threatened with its long overdue disintegration; a “Kurd” reaffirms the Arabism of Iraq!

In an article in Arabic entitled “Is Iraq’s Arabism in danger?” , written by the racist Arabist writer Ghassan Imam in Ashsharq al-Awsat on 16 September 2003 (and posted on KDP website perhaps with pride and satisfaction), Ghassan Imam argues against the idea that Arab Iraq was an artificial state manufactured by Britain. He argues that Iraq has existed for 1400 years as an Arab state through the genius of Semitic Arabism represented by Manadhira in Baghdad and Ghassasina in Syria (Sham). And he places this Arab Semitic “genius of history” against what he calls “the genius of danger” posed by the Aryans represented later by the Persians and the Kurds who he says refused to assimilate completely into Arabism. What about now? Ghassan Imam writes “The governing council has reaffirmed its Arabism through its emotional calls to the Arabs for recognising its Arabism”. “As for the problematic of Kurds” he writes:

“We must appreciate the new Kurdish role. The new Kurdish Foreign Minister Zebari had a brilliant attitude in his addressing the Arab League with the tongue and voice of the Arab Iraq. Hushyar did this under the guidance of the Governing Council. But he was also expressing the realism of his leader Masud Barzani and his rival Jalal Talabani”.

Ashsharq al-Awsat itself in an editorial entitled “Iraq in the Arab league” on 10 September 2003 (again posted on KDP website) says, “The Governing Council and Iraqi government passed through the red line which was painted around them or rather the foreign occupation of this Arab country… the general welcome of Iraq’s representative to sit in his seat beside his Arab brothers is a positive demonstration of Arab solidarity”.

Another Arab writer Shari al-Zubaidi expresses even his pride in Zebari because “he speaks in standard Arabic even better than Husni Mubarak” and he prays that the Arabist role of Zebari will be “the start of a goodness which makes the Kurds forget the question of independence ands elf-determination.”

I think that is enough to make any Kurd feel what is going on and the new conspiracy in place to make the Kurds lose the best opportunity in their history and idiotically or treacherously sacrifice their freedom, dignity, independence and the future security of their children for the sake of Arabism. Has the post of Foreign Minister been given to Kurds to allow the promotion of Kurdistani cause in international circles or to give the Kurds the demeaning and self-insulting role of reaffirming the Iraqiness of the Kurds and the Arabism of Iraq?

Compare the joy of Arab racists, who having 22 Arab states still think of Arabising Kurdistan, to the pain and despair of the brothers and families of the Kurdish girls named in the list and then judge the dignity of Kurdish leaders for yourselves:

Abdul Qadir Aziz the brother of one of the girls named in the list Ismat Qadir Aziz said:

"When I saw the document, I found the name of my sister, Ismat Qadir Aziz. I was deeply shocked. I cried for my sister, for the girls of Garmiyan [Kurdistan province where the girls were taken from] and for the Kurds who are without friends. I cried for the complex situation that we are in.

This has revealed more about the substance of the Iraqi Arab Ba’ath Party, which was dangerously programmed to destroy the personality of Kurdish females, and to destroy Kurds psychologically and socially. Thirty members of my family have disappeared without a trace. After 16 years, now I know what happened to my sister."

Basharat Amin Hamza the brother of another girl said:

"Fourteen members of my family have disappeared since Anfal the III. Among the names in the document, I saw the name of my sister Hasiba Amin Hamza and both of my nieces Najiba Hasan Ali and Shiler Hasan Ali. Also I saw the name of my sister-in-law [the wife of my bother] Hasiba Hasan Hidayat Ibrahim.

I am not a writer. I do not know how to express this unique tragedy…. Without knowing what I say, I talk to my lost sister, nieces and sister-in-law. I shall always remember their innocence and purity. I shall always remember their fine values and their personalities. I can hear their endless suffering of their deep wounds.” (1)

Colin Powell’s Visit to Halabja

For whatever political motives, Colin Powell’s visit to Halabja was both a historic event and a historic opportunity for Kurdish leaders to say something inspired by the martyrs of Halabja and representing their tragedy and hope for their children and their nation.

Again the Kurdish leaders failed us and this failure is evident in Colin Powell’s speech that even did not mention the word Kurdistan. But of course this is not his fault. Powell did not meet Kurdish leaders and they did not introduce themselves as such. They were keen again to affirm their Iraqiness again: the same Iraqiness, which is at the root of Halabja an Anfal. They could say, not only logically and justifiably in political and diplomatic terms but also as a very dignified historical position, that their commitment as Kurdish leaders to justice for the martyrs of Halabja and the cause they died for, obliges them not to give up the freedom achieved as a result of their sacrifices. They could simply say: at this town Iraq used chemical gas and killed over 5000 of our people. Iraqi state killed 200,000 more during Anfal operations. This was the climax of the development of the Iraqi state as an ethnonationalist Arabist state denying the Kurdish people’s right to self determination. All the resources of Iraqi state, its economy, army, security apparatus, bureaucracy, diplomacy and foreign relations, were used to eliminate our nation resulting in actual crimes of genocide of which Halabja is only an example. For this reason our people can never feel secure again as part of Iraq unless as an autonomous Kurdistani state with international guarantees. And we take the presence of Mr Powell’s presence here in Kurdistan as an opportunity to express the demand of our people for firm commitment from US to protect our nation and our freedom. And we look forward to a permanent historical alliance between Kurdistan and US for the joint interests of both nations.”

I do not know whether any thing like this has been said in private talks either. But I doubt it especially remembering Jay Garner’s revelation that within 48 hours he spent with Talabani and Barzani , he did not hear them even mentioning federalism! What Kurdish leaders reiterated to Colin Powell was the boring self-deluding Kurd-insulting formula of a new Iraq.

Talabani said in his speech (as reported by PUK’s Kurdistan Newsline (16 September) in Capital letters perhaps to demonstrate the great importance of the statement!!):

“Now we have the challenge to build a new Iraq. An Iraq that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors. A federal and democratic iraq that will never tolerate another massacre in Halabja.

I know we have a good opportunity to achieve this desired Iraq.”

Dr Barham Salih said:

“The Kurds, in partnership with other Iraqis, are determined to win this battle to build a new Iraq: a democratic federal Iraq that will be at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours.” (Kurdistan Newsline, 16 September 2003)

And also Masud Barzani is reported to have “vowed to exert every effort to safeguard the liberation gains and in order to establish a democratic, federal and pluralistic system”.

Thus for these fantastic Kurdish (or rather Iraqi) leaders the opportunity is not to create a safe, secure and free Kurdistani state which makes it impossible for Halabja to be repeated but to create a new Iraqi state with new army, bureaucracy and state apparatuses which would not allow another Halabja. What a folly! What a madness!


(1) “The quotes are from an article entitled, "The relatives of the Anfaled Kurdish girls demand the fate of their girls", in Kurdish language, author: Abdullah Karim Mahmud, Translated by Dr Rebwar Fatah, text is at: http://www.kurdistannet.net/7-2003/kesukari.pdf, published by www.kurdistannet.org.” See also Lynne O’Donnell’s report, “Saddam ’made sex slaves’ of Kurd women”, posted on KDP website on 18 August 2003).

I hope this will start a debate and I welcome any comment and contributions and promise to reply immediately. Please write to: kamalmirawdeli@yahoo.co.uk.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
  • 24/09/2003 00:00:00