I am writing about a group of human beings in the Middle East, that conforms around 30 and 40 million people, who live in a diaspora calculated in a number close to one million and a half people. The people I am referring to are the Kurds.
While I was studying for my Bachelors in International Relations at ITESO University in Guadalajara, Mexico, we analysed the important role of the Kurdish women within the last semester’s course “Armed Conflicts and Gender”. Nevertheless, despite the students’ great interest in this specific political and social issue, they are still a group of human beings far from us. Until now, I haven´t found any official data census about Kurdish residents in my country.
After I finished college and moved to Germany, I got to discover who the Kurds really were after meeting my first employer. He treated me with human dignity and kindness, he was also really fun and cared a lot about his family; he liked to live as a German, as a Dutch (because the Netherlands was the first nation in being his host after he left Turkey and giving him citizenship), and certainly, behaving like one of his nations without recognition until today, Kurdistan. Another amazing thing which I can remember from my first encounter with the Kurdish culture is that he told me that he practised the first monotheistic religion in the zooroatristic root, but he also mentioned that the majority of his people were Muslims, some others were catholic or orthodox Christians, and Jews. A fascinating community. As an example, I can tell you that he liked to visit the local synagogue in the city of Münster which is also where he opened his restaurant – bar to bet host every month of the “jüdische Stammtisch” (regular meeting of the Jewish youth in town). After describing a small human experience with the Kurdish culture, let us pass through the parts of the title and the critical situation of the current days.
I would first like to mention the deliberate dictated offences by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. And please let me make a difference without giving any place to generalize that is a Turkish offensive because it could be disrespectful for many Turks who currently live in censorship, in prison or persecuted. The ugliest part of this situation is that once again the whole world is refusing to see what is happening to the Kurdish people. There is no official Kurdish state. This is a hard time for the Kurds, as it was the last stone to carry for all who suffered and for those who were heroes. The Peshmerga, for example, who have fought in the frontline against the terrorist organization, ISIS, since 2015 until now in Iraq and Syria. They defeated them, they put them in prison, and until today they were the patrol not only for the civilians in the region, but also for the entire world from the high risk of thousands of terrorists who came all the way from Australia, Canada, U.S.A., the European Union, and including Russia. Their efforts continued with the American backup until October 9 when President Donald J. Trump decided to retreat the US soldiers in the area, giving the green light to the highly absurd and ironically called by the government in Ankara, “Operation Peace Spring”.
The spring turned out to be a dark winter. In less than a week and following the analysis of Federico Martin Gaon (expert in Middle East conflicts), Ankara had built a structured offence to surround villages and close towns, paralyzing the “enemy”, with the same tactics manoeuvred in “Operation Euphrates Shield” (2016) and “Operation Olive Branch” (2018). The number of injured, death and forced displacement increases every hour. Among which the murder of a political party leader of the secular movement “Future for Syria” and (according to information of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) an attack aimed against journalists. What is also ugly, is that instead of giving an international recognition to Kurdistan or a substantial autonomy, not even thinking about their own State, the Kurds are facing once again a threat of ethnic cleansing, as they sadly have already survived in Turkey in Zilan Massacre in Iraq in the Anfal Genocide, or with the 21st. Century ISIS, beheading their men, raping and selling their women and children.
The International Community has pushed criticism and efforts to try to stop these offences, but the damage is already done, and it is not something that comes with little time, it has existed for nearly 99 years. Indeed, the Treaty of Sévres, signed by the winners of the First World War was establishing the future of the region (as they thought it was better for their nations) that needed to be redefined from the former and defeated Ottoman Empire. Kurdistan, of course, was not any priority, there was a special resource that the powers needed to keep, mostly the oil, and better works when they moved forward with the “divide and conquer” mutual colonial way to see the world. After the treaty was signed, Turkey obtained the north of Kurdistan, France the south and west Kurdistan in Syria, and Great Britain the Iraqi Kurdistan. The colonial imperialism defended and systemized oil in the region, and after World War II, the period of decolonization the Kurds still being with the same debt and had to live in diaspora or surviving where they were located. The Jewish Kurds moved to Israel. The majority in diaspora moved to Germany, and some others decided to have a future in other European countries, Canada and the United States.
The XX Century was in its last twenty years when the Kurdish people had another stone to carry on their backs, not only because of the lack of international recognition but because of a bad image. It was the appearance of the “PKK”, The Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the region located in Turkey. This terrorist organization committed tragic attacks against officials and civilians, and they moved and promoted a Marxist-Leninist ideology. As we all know, no extreme position brings any good. Then came the two wars in Iraq. As it wasn´t a lie that Saddam Hussein and his regime produced and had in stock chemical weapons, (and even when this argument was taken by George W. Bush administration to advocate for their invasion), they were used against the Kurds. The Kurds felt that the dream of their own Kurdistan State was closer than ever as they became allies of the coalition in the war that defeated Hussein´s regime, but the coalition after the years of their own war decided to retreat, leaving a chaos for Kurdistan as the terrorist organization ISIS was established and invading each inch where the coalition soldiers were in charge of a temporary security. It´s 2019 and once again the US soldiers leave, there is a lack of security and in less than a week hundreds of terrorists move freely in northern Syria. This situation has increased in a critical circumstance that the peshmerga commanders have told journalist and the media they have two options: defending or leaving their families. Lastly, the same analysis of Federico Gaon predicted the alliance with the lowest danger for the Kurds in Syria, the Al Assad forces. This decision of the Kurdish forces could be a payment for submission in the benefit of surviving and the taking control back from Damascus.
Dear readers, as you have noticed, I wrote the title of the article in a different manner from how it is normally written. I did this because in each opinion that I write, I wouldn´t like to sound merely informative, but also that every reading could work as a topic of conscience of what is happening in our global society. Certainly, for the Kurds, there are positive aspects that I would like to share with you.
First, we need to separate politicians from individuals. If we look at Turkey, not of all the Turks agree with the offence. Let us remember that in previous years there was the stupid idea that war always is profitable and makes good business, but when a nation like Turkey is carrying already economical sanctions and hard currency depreciation, war seems to be more a crazy ideological action that means more costs than “investment” (as much as inhuman it sounds). In the same line of division, we know that Israel can not do so much in a political platform, but Israel can move its society for the justice of Kurds. In a political scenario between “King Bibi” and “King Erdogan,” it seems to have an annual confrontation of a contest to win the “biggest ego” in the region. At the end of the day, each of this particular people knows that their economical relationship is translated in numbers that can be counted between 300 and 400 million dollars per month in trade and the maintenance of the status quo to feel comfortable and not bringing up any further action or provocation than comments and statements. This is similar of what occurs in Europe (and especially with NATO members), “at least” they knew their sold weapons to Ankara for “national security purposes” were being targeted inside the operations already mentioned and some announced their willingness to stop these shipments. But giving us the position out of this chest political game, we (the individuals from the global society) can give recognition to the Kurds. The political game has nothing to do with the memory of all those human beings who have been massacred or of those who gave their lives for a world without the Islamic state. This is something that needs to be remembered especially by members of the Israeli society, many Muslim countries, the citizens of the European Union, the Americans, and many more.
Dear readers, we need to see the Kurds beyond the “PKK”, beyond the “no nation people”, beyond the dream of their own established and recognized the state, that being realistic, and in a sad perception, won´t be possible in the short time. Kurdish people deserve to be recognized by the international community as a culture of great relevance as the birthplace of civilizations, of brave women who are willing to have more gender equality in the region and the defence of their families, villages and traditions. Kurdistan won´t be forgotten by another generation. If the media are not giving them the importance, we and the power of the digital and social media can do it. I am sure, we will achieve it. The Kurds need to know from us that their fight against the Islamic State has a global value and that the mountains are not their only friends, because a friendship with Kurdistan begins since you meet the first Kurdish person and will continue in giving the importance to those who are raising their voices and their representative flags in many cities where are normally visited by many of us, such as: Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Los Angeles and Paris.
Finally, I want to share with you the words of the biggest French intellectuals, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on his view of the Kurdish recognition in an interview for Octavian Report: “That was when I saw the extent of the betrayal by the West, when I understood the extent of the misunderstanding. When I understood the extent of the ignorance about the role the Kurds played in the common battle against obscurantism and terrorism”. At the end of the interview, he added as he was questioned for the best way to help inside the issue: “It depends on who they are. If you are a student, get in touch with students in Kurdistan and build some bridges. If you are an intellectual, you go speak with the intellectuals of Kurdistan. If you are a money-maker, you can invest in Kurdistan. We have to make the reality match the commonality of our values”.
Maybe you could find some other elements to share of debate about Kurdistan, that with all kindness, I would like to dialogue with you. So, please share your comments on this site or on my twitter account: @PabloQZepeda