ANKARA: Solution To Kurdish Problem: A Kurdistan For Iraq, Democracy


Today’s Zaman
July 22 2008

With the exception of a small number of intellectuals, the vast
majority of Kurds in Turkey promote coexistence in a just and
democratic republic instead of the founding of an independent Kurdish

How the Kurdish question needs to be resolved has been discussed for
many years. In addition to the fact that no agreement has emerged on
the definition of this problem, no reconciliation has been reached,

In Turkey, a substantial segment still wants the continuation of the
current policies of denial, repression and assimilation. Those who
see the Kurdish problem as a "separatist" terrorism issue alone are
reluctant to rely on an approach based on military measures only. Any
demands in regards to Kurdish identity are labeled as separatism. The
paranoia that even the smallest democratic progress will be followed by
other demands and that the individual cultural rights will transform
into group rights, a federation and ultimately an independent Kurdish
state makes these circles lose sleep over this. Fear is constantly
generated by those who favor the status quo and are alienated from
the people, the culture and the history of the Middle East as well
as the media which supports them.

It is possible to categorize the views of those intellectuals,
parties and organizations who support the resolution of the Kurdish
issue but hold different ideologies and worldviews on the resolution
of the problem as follows:

These categories are:

* Kurdish nationalists (Those who promote the idea of an independent
Kurdish state)

* Supporters of an ethnic federation

* Those who promote the project of coexistence

Kurdish nationalists

Kurdish nationalism emerged in the early 20th century. The idea of
a nation state arrived as an ideology of the bourgeoisie after the
French Revolution and influenced some Kurdish intellectuals.

Nationalist thoughts non-Muslim peoples of the Ottoman state —
Serbs, Greeks, Romanians, Bulgarians and Armenians — had embraced
also impressed the Muslim groups as well. Following the Albanians
and the Arabs, some Kurdish intellectuals joined this movement.

The above-mentioned peoples other than the Kurds revolted against
the Ottoman state and gained independence, whereas only the Armenian
uprising failed. A political uprising contrary to the interests of the
Armenian people who suffered a lot resulted in a disaster. As opposed
to the Muslim Albanians and Arabs, the Kurds did not part ways with
the Ottoman state. The Kurds dealt with the pains and turmoil of World
War I together with the Turks. The Kurdish people and leaders viewed
their fates connected to the fates of the Turks because of the idea
of Islamic brotherhood and unity. Currently, with the exception of a
small number of intellectuals, the vast majority of Kurds in Turkey
promote coexistence in a just and democratic republic instead of
founding an independent Kurdish state.

There are two reasons why a Kurdish state was not created in the
Middle East in the 20th century:

1- The Western imperialists did not see an independent Kurdish state
as compatible with their interests. There are several reasons for this.

2- The Kurds did not want to part ways with the Turks, with whom they
have lived together for centuries.

The vast majority of Kurds still object to the idea of a nation-state
and a separate Kurdish state from Turkey. These objections may be
divided into two parts:

1- The idea of a nation-state and the nation-state model was
fashionable in the 19th century. The nation-state became outdated
in the 21st century. A wave of globalization has swept through the
world. Information and culture recognize no boundaries, and the
movement of goods cannot be prevented. All values generated in the
fields of sports, fashion, cinema and music are disseminated instantly;
likewise, information and technology transcend boundaries. A commodity
produced in China is marketed in another part of the world in a few
days. The Internet has almost become the common memory of all of
humanity. Marriages between people of different religions, languages
and ethnicities are on the rise; local languages are disappearing
and being replaced by English, which is increasingly becoming the
official language of the world. In such a world, national boundaries
become insignificant in economic and cultural terms; the bourgeoisie,
which promoted nationalism and national boundaries in the 19th and
20th centuries for the sake of its interests, now seeks to lift the
boundaries, considering that they are contrary to its interests.

Instead of nation-states, regional unions and political and economic
organizations like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and
the European Union gain importance. In the current form of the world,
it is commonly held that a delayed Kurdish nationalism would bring
harm to Kurds rather than benefits. The Kurds desire to remain within
a political organization consistent with the new global tendencies
rather than trying a non-functional and outdated model.

2. The nation-state model does not fit the Middle East. The
nation-state brought irresolution rather than solution to Middle
Eastern communities because of the following reasons:

a. The Middle East does not have a social structure similar
to that of Europe; the two have undergone different historical
processes. The Middle East did not experience historical turning
points that made Europe the current Europe, including the Reformation,
the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and
democratic revolutions. There have been no bourgeoisie and labor
classes in the Middle East in the Western sense. The feudality of
Europe and feudality of the Middle East do not overlap. To this
end, the lord of Europe is not equal to the aga of the Middle East;
likewise, the church and priest of Christianity are not the proper
matches of mosque and imam of the Islamic world.

b. Ethnic, religious and sectarian differences are not
separated via visible lines in the Middle East; instead, they
are intertwined. Kurd-Turk-Arab, Muslim-Christian, Sunni-Shiite
mostly live in the same city, in the same neighborhood. Likewise,
the Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Assyrians, Armenians and
Greeks have lived together in this land. The social structure has
been based on conciliation and coexistence rather than conflict and
separation. This is the case in ancient Islamic cities like Ä°stanbul,
Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus.

c. These ethnic, religious and sectarian differences have existed
under the rule of big states instead of small ones that clashed with
each other. From this perspective, the history of the Middle East
is the history of empires. The Roman, Medes, Persian, Byzantine,
Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuk and Ottoman eras may be cited as examples of
this. During some periods of interruptions and disorder, small states
emerged; but this did not last long and a big political organization
established its rule. The period following the Mongolian invasion is
an example of this.

d. The dominant factor in the Middle East is religion and sect
rather than ethnicity. This is the case in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria,
Lebanon and Egypt. The Kirkuk Turkmen and the Shiite Kurds in Iraq
act together with the Arab Shiites.

e. Marriages take place between those who share the same religion and
sect without considering the lingual and racial difference. Integration
between families is almost intact. It is estimated that the number
of marriages between Turks and Kurds is over 1 million in Turkey alone.

f. There have been almost no ethnic wars between communities in
the Middle East. The most important wars in the history were fought
between Turks. These are the wars fought between Sultan Mehmet the
Conqueror and the Akkoyunlu ruler Uzun Hasan, Yıldırım Bayezit and
Uzbek Timurlane, Sultan Selim I and Safavid Shah Ismail. All these
rulers were Turks. In addition, with the exception of Shah Ismail,
all others were Sunni as well. The reason of the wars was the pursuit
of power and influence.

g. The idea of nationalism is relatively new to the Middle East. First,
military states were founded to create a nation through the efforts
of the state. Agaoglu Ahmet, Ziya Gökalp and Moiz Kohen in Turkey
and Michel Aflaq and Jamal Abdel Nasser in the Arab world served as
the leading names in support of this ideology. Kurdish nationalism is
a delayed nationalism. Arab nationalism is still behind religion and
sect. It is not possible to talk about national awareness and unity
in the modern sense.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS