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A Successful Nation-Building Strategy Under Construction in Kurdistan

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There are many peoples in the region of South West Asia that have been relegated to the status of national minorities due to the partitioning of the region after the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War One. But, no people have been so systematically abused by the nations in which they inhabited as the Kurds. The Kurdish people have suffered everywhere they have struggled to live within their own historically occupied territory. They have endured the jihad of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and the murder of 10,000 Kurds in Iran. They have suffered the Turkish campaign of denial of their national identity, the negating of their political representation. The Turkish military campaigns have resulted in 30,000 civilian casualties and 3,000 Kurdish villages eliminated and 350,000 people displaced. The Kurds have survived the Anfal campaign that resulted in the death of between 50-100,000 Kurdish people and the Halabja poison gassing by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in southern Kurdistan. They endured the massacre of 30 in Qamishli in 2004 by Syrian Baathists.

As the US occupation forces provoke the hands of the sects in the south of Iraq, so too, they have created in their very presence a scenario that is currently unfolding within the areas of Kurdish territory. The Kurdish Regional Government has initiated widespread political action designed to unify the Kurdish people at this time. It is incumbent that this strategy is not based on a presumption that the US will always be in Iraq. US political opposition to the military intervention will continue to limit the time-frame of US presence. At present, the KRG has consolidated the land-base, the government and the national identity of southern Kurdistan. If one were to compare this to the Palestinian struggle, it would have to be admitted that never was there a stage that Palestinian peoples were at that level of national construction. The Israeli model has historically demonstrated the effectiveness of a strategy that begins with these elements of land, self-government and national identity as a foundation.

This is an incredible accomplishment. In the process, there remains many issues that confront the flowering Kurdish nation as its neighbors seek to prevent the consolidation of an independent Kurdistan. Turkey is increasing its attacks on the Kurdish project by attacking the electoral representatives of the Kurdish people in Turkey and making repeated public provocative statements. http://www.guardian.co.uk/turkey/story/0,,2040626,00.html This was met by a statement of Kurdish unity and support from the Kurdish political parties in Turkey- Socialist Party of Kurdistan (PSK), Patriotic Democrat Party of Kurdistan (PWD) and the Democrat Party of Kurdistan (PDK-Bakur). It stated: "In the Middle East far too much blood has been sheded, thousands of Kurdish people has been died, million of Kurds has been taken away from their motherland. In spite of those sorrows Kurdish Leaderships and Kurdish powers have tried to be supporter of the Dialogue and Peace. But, clearly Turkish Government, invites to a major battle for the sake of its racist benefits.....Anyway, our political parties are ready to support their brothers in South Kurdistan against all probable threats and attacks of Turkish Government, with their all power and potential." http://kurdistanobserver.servehttp.com/jan2007/16-1-07-declaration-of-unity.html

Iranian troops have attacked Kurdish forces in the past, while at the same time negotiating economic agreements with the Kurdish Regional Government. There is reason to believe that the Iranians would not oppose a partitioning of Iraq after the US withdrawal. On the other hand, they could very well ally with Turkey and seek to prevent any establishment of a Kurdish territorial base area from which to build its own nation. In this regard, the US is in a similar position because while they are in Iraq the Kurdish support is important to them. When they withdraw from Iraq it will not mean anything to them. Israel, on the other hand, stands to gain from the reconfiguration of South West Asia. Whether this will have any significant influence on US policy remains to be seen.

The current neo-con analysis of the Kurdish situation is negative and pre-occupied with the presence of the PKK in southern Kurdistan. A recent article in the Middle East Forum by Michael Rubin was particular focused on attempting to divide the Kurdish political and national forces in the territory under the jurisdiction of the Kurdish Regional Government. http://www.kurdmedia.com/articles.asp?id=14210 The article was vehemently opposed by a cross-section of Kurdish political opinion. The experience of the Kurdish people after the Persian Gulf war should never be forgotten in the context of defining a winnable strategy for the national construction of Kurdistan. Never should the Kurdish people empower the US to the extent that it puts its own welfare and peoples' safety in jeopardy solely for US political gain. At the same time, it is incumbent upon Kurdish governmental authorities to maximize the current window of opportunity under US occupation to increase their freedom of action and consolidate their national sovereignty. The formulation of economic and political agreements, technical assistance, and government-to-government interactions have already begun. This is one reason for the current Turkish provocations against the Kurds in Turkey and their threats against "the PKK" in southern Kurdistan. Those same Kurdish forces in Turkey that united on a Unity Declaration also wisely advised: "In this way, we are calling out to PKK, to be far away from actions and operations which are handicaps and obstacles for the Leadership of South Kurdistan Region." http://kurdistanobserver.servehttp.com/jan2007/16-1-07-declaration-of-unity.html

Politically, within the US, it is vital for Kurdish national groups to speak to Democrats and Republicans to promote the Kirkuk Referendum, promote aid to the Kurdish Regional Government, and to pressure Turkey to withhold its military activity against the peoples and organizations in southern Kurdistan. Public education is needed so that the people of the US can see a visible face of the Kurdish people, as they did recently on the CBS television show, '60 Minutes'. Actions by governmental bodies and within the United Nations need to stress the historically-defined and indigenous character of the Kurdish people. Increasing American public awareness of the Kurdish peoples struggle will create a climate in which this issue can begin to be recognized as a distinct political issue in the resolution of the Iraqi military campaign.

There is presently a great and an historic opportunity for the Kurdish people. As history unfolds the leadership of the Kurdish people will be greatly tested in its ability to endure in its efforts to establish national independence. Past history has demonstrated the ability of a people to be successful as to promote democratic institutions in so doing. The window of opportunity remains open. L'audace, toujours l'audace.

Martin Zehr is an American political writer whose articles on the Kurds have been printed by the Kurdish Regional Government, http://www.moera-krg.org/articles/detail.asp?smap=01030000&lngnr=12&anr=12121&rnr=140 as well as are posted on other Kurdish political news forums, such as Kurdishmedia.com http://www.kurdmedia.com/articles.asp?id=14210
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Martin Zehr is an American political writer in the San Francisco area. He spent 8 years working as a volunteer water planner for the Middle Rio Grande region. http://www.waterassembly.org His article on the Kirkuk Referendum has been printed by the Kurdish Regional Government, http://www.moera-krg.org/articles/detail.asp?smap=01030000&lngnr=12&anr=12121&rnr=140 Another article was reprinted in its entirety by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) http://www.puk.org/web/htm/news/nws/news070514.html He is a Contributing Writer to Kurdish Aspect more...)

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