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Kurdish National Claims Disputed and Compared to Israel

By       Message Martin Zehr     Permalink
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Recently an article in Al-Ahram Weekly written by Ayman El-Amir entitled "Who Wants Another Israel" presented the issue of the reconfiguration of South West Asia. The writer presented both the historical context and the national grievances of the Kurdish people and than raised the matter in a geo-political context that have always raised concerns among governments in the region. It is worthy of a response that recognizes the inherent dangers of such an analysis and that advocates for defense of the Kurdish nation and peoples.


What should be rejected is the effort to compare the establishment of the settler-state of Israel with the political recognition of a historically-contiguous  nation of Kurdistan. Without getting pulled into the discussion of Israel, it is incumbent that the political rights of Kurdish people not be defined outside of political entities that do not represent them. States exist to empower people into forging a common national direction and building a common economical structure that is stable and empowers people in their day-to-day lives.

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The writer focuses on the particular issue of Kurdistan independence but uses the demonstration of the autonomy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in order to try and undermine the political entity that has already demonstrated effectiveness in governing. The KRG does not simply govern for Kurds, it also governs for Assyrians, Turkomen and Arabs within its jurisdiction. This demonstrates that the political reconfiguration that has taken place in northern Iraq is not simply an exercise in ethnic cleansing or religious sectarianism.


The legitimacy of the Kurdistan Regional Government has been established legally and its entitlements and authority recognized within the Iraqi Constitution. The attempt by the Turkish government not to recognize the KRG or its elected representatives has to do with THEIR internal problems and not with the viablilty of the Kurdish government. The KRG has worked within the definitions of the constitution and exercised its powers under its guidelines and protections. There is no legal partitioning of Iraq and there are no representatives of the KRG who have claimed this to be the case.


The writer does present the role of British colonialism in the formation of the states of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. It is important that the English-French definitions of nations in the region by the Sykes-Pincot Agreement not be used to justify an historical injustice to the Kurdish nation and peoples indefinitely. Dinbar Zebari correctly pointed out that while oil is currently being used as a justification denial of international recognition by many governments of Kurdish national claims, such as incorporation of Kirkuk. It is history not economics that needs to be the criterion for nationhood. "The internal conflict over the possession of oil rich territories has always overshadowed the issue of Kurdish autonomy. However, it should be noted that the Kurdish claims to the territory predate the emergence of world economic preoccupation and dependence on oil” Furthermore, the Turkish rejection of the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920 that provided for a referendum by Kurds has never been addressed.


The writer declares somewhat casually:” The fundamental issue in abeyance is the decades-long aspiration for the creation of a state of Kurdistan.” One raises one’s eyebrows when the issue is raised in terms of  being “decades-long” or when the non-binding resolution of the Senate on federalism within Iraq is presented as “calling for the partition of Iraq along ethnic and religious lines” Such descriptions on their face undermine the discussion and present a position fraught with inaccuracy. This is further revealed with the assumption presented in the article that: “Israel  has a strategic interest in breaking up Iraq.” Even if that could be demonstrated by statements from Israeli governmental and military leaders, which it is not, it does not present the historical existence of Kurdish nation as a given. The writer is attempting to present the existing political entity of the Kurdistan Regional Government as an appendage of Israeli foreign policy. This might be easy to accept in certain circles of the elites and intellectuals in the region, but it is hardly proven in the text of this article.

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The writer carries on this line of  thought by declaring: “Turkey's strong apprehension of a stronger regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan is understandable and justified. What is not understandable is the Arabs' squeamish reaction to the ongoing partitioning of Iraq, beyond rhetorical statements about preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. Israel has been working hard on cloning itself in Kurdistan, and the Arabs are watching, leaving it to Turkey to protect their interests.” Here the Turkish government’s  denial of national and political rights within Turkey are subordinated and disregarded in an attempt to raise the “Israel factor” as determinant in the region. Here the writer not only promotes Turkish military invasion and occupation of the Kurdish Autonomous Region but he is actually attempting to raise a rallying cry for other governments and militaries in the region to join the effort.   


Clearly the writer is going beyond simply the activity of the PKK in such a description and has included any national  Kurdish  political entity, whether autonomous or independent, as the problem. He states: “Erdogan's government now regards the PKK's activities as a national security threat as the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq gains more strength and independence under the authority of the US occupation and the new Iraqi constitution.” In one sentence, he unites the PKK and the KRG as the source of the Turkish Prime Minister’s concern.  In this context there are needs for action by the United Nations that begin to address these matters as a body. There is no safety margin here with 100,000 Turkish troops on the border. That is a mobilization that in itself represents a direct threat to the sovereignty of the Kurdish Autonomous Region and presents the risk of a region-wide conflict.  

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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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