In 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." But disappointingly, since receiving the Prize, President Obama has not overseen the making of peace between any warring parties. In Turkey, a close ally of the US, the Turks and Kurds have been at war since 1984. At present, the Prime Minister of Turkey and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan are talking indirectly to end that war.
Working hard to derail a viable outcome for peace talks between the Kurds and the Turks and leading the list of the many countries and organizations in the region that do not want such negotiations to be successful is the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).
The rationale for this opposition resides in the doctrines of the founder of the IRI, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As supreme leader of the Republic from 1979 until his death in 1989, he defined the US as Great Satan and Israel as Small Satan. Consequently, the IRI has continued to oppose the interests of the US in the Middle East and the world. Whilst destabilizing the entire region and trying to chase the US, EU and Israel away, many believe it has threatened to wipe Israel off the world map. Jeremy R. Hammond's discussion  of President Ahmadinejad's oft-quoted speech ostensibly posing a threat to Israel says, "Ahmadinejad noted," and, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map." Here the President is deemed to be quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, whose political allegiances and previous declarations gave strong indications he was referring to Israel. Not content to merely dissect the semantics of speeches by IRI leaders, the Israelis have no doubts about this; they have acted on it by preparing, among other measures, comprehensive numbers of bomb shelters for their populations.
Refugees from Iran who lived through the realities of the practice of Ayatollah Khomeini's Shi'ite ideologies now testify to the consequences of the Iran-Iraq war, in which one million people were killed. After this Ayatollah Khomeini was forced to accept a peace deal. Firsthand reports coming from refugees' relatives still living in Iran indicate that executions are taking place without due legal process, terrifying significant portions of the population, particularly women. Combined with the above perception of Iran's threat towards Israel, such treatment of its citizens contravening human rights lends support to the notion that Iran has aggressive internal and external policies that alienate many of its citizens and create challenges for the stability of the region. Many living in Iran believe that the present regime lost the disputed 2009 election, but came to power mainly with the aid of fanatical religious elements and the well-paid para-military revolutionary guards. While the IRI enforces some of its laws for its own purposes, it does not respect them by upholding free elections. Its subsequent reported aggression against its own people has not only limited support for its foreign policy, but has also engendered the Kurds' much more real and humane representation of the goals and wishes of Iranians.
While sectors of the Iranian population contest the legitimacy and policies of the present regime, it is to be hoped that the government might shelve its repressive policies in favor of a more peaceful and conciliatory approach to its internal and international policies. Then with enough backing, the Kurds and their Iranian allies amongst the general population could work toward a cessation of their present military campaign for human and political rights, thus reducing the potential for future protracted clashes.
Civil wars in Kurdistan, Balochistan, and the Ahwhz regions are weakening economies, thus feeding further opposition to governments. Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq have been cooperating to contain the Kurds since World War II, but the Kurds are gaining footholds in Iraq and Syria now. With both the Kurdish and the Iranian peoples suffering from the doctrines of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his followers in Iran, a peace settlement between the Kurds and the Turks could put pressure on the IRI to deal with issues between itself, the Kurds, and their ethnically similar allies. Or if Iran remains intransigent, an alliance between the Kurds and Turks, not unlike the Kurds' successful support for the Ottoman Empire against the Iranian Empire in 1500, could foster a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous Middle East.
But first the US must take advantage of Mr. Ocolan's overtures to Turkey and support the process and sealing of a peace deal between the Kurds in Turkey and the Turkish government.
Kurdish people control the commercial gateway of territories from Pakistan to Turkey and from Kurdistan to the former Soviet Union countries, inhabited by more than 500 million people. A peace agreement between the Kurds of Turkey and the Turkish government will safeguard that gateway by promoting stability, prosperity, democracy, and human rights throughout the region.
Peace between the Kurds of Turkey and the Turks might also encourage Israel, with whom Turkey has had strong relations, to re-think its less-than-friendly attitude towards the Kurds. And should President Obama weigh into the peace-making process all the region's major players, including the US, EU, and Israel, will benefit economically.
Clear indications that the Kurdish leadership is looking to the US to help solve the problem between the Kurds of Turkey and the Turks must be acted upon immediately. Following his recent moderately successful trip to the Middle East President Obama now has the chance to further prove his worthiness of the Nobel Peace prize by sending appropriate envoys to help broker a peace deal in Turkey, as a precursor to achieving a similar result between the Kurds, their allies, and the IRI, and perhaps further inspire the protagonists in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to once more attempt a lasting solution to their differences. However, peace in this particular area depends to a large degree on Iran's withdrawal of support for Palestinian extremists. Can President Obama's government open dialogue with the PKK of Turkey? Yes, for all the above reasons, he can!
Hamma Mirwaisi is a US citizen of Kurdish origin and the co-author with Australian writer Alison Buckley of two historical novels outlining the early history of the Kurds. His research has traced political movements in the region for the last two and a half thousand years, during which time not much has changed for the Kurdish people. Now, like his compatriots who battle for peace in his mountain homeland, Hamma is willing to climb the steep slope for their freedom by further developing the friendship not only between the American and Kurdish people, but also between their leaders and governments, in the hope of safeguarding the interests of his adopted country and restoring to his people rightful possession of their lands.
Hamma Mirwaisi and Alison Buckley are authors of the
historical novels Vashti Queen of the Ancient Medes (Kurds) and Esther Mystery
Queen of the Medes (Kurds). They are working to revive the ancient "Airyanem
Civilization" record in this series of books, and are calling for the
establishment of an "Economic Union" for the Middle East to solve some of the
problems among the population of that part of the world.
PKK: Kurdistan Workers Party is a major Kurdish political party in Turkey fighting for Kurdish people's right within that country.
IRI: Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamist of Iran changed the name of the country from Iran to IRI after successful revolution in 1979.
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