A Nation without a Country – Kurdistan
June 23, 2014
The Bermuda Triangle of the Middle East - Kurdistan disappeared. In 1920 the League of Nations carved Kurdistan into Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. There was no state for the Kurds.
Kurds date back to 2400 BC in lands where they live today. After the 7th Century they became followers of Mohamed. Saladin was a Kurdish Muslim who was the first Sultan of Syria and of Egypt. He led Muslim forces against King Richard I during the Crusades. Crusaders persecuted wealthy Kurdish Jewish communities such as Mosul, and they fled. Today more than 150,000 Kurdish Jews live in Israel. Following the Crusades various empires ruled until the Ottomans took control. During WWI the Allies promised a “Great Kurdistan”. It did not happen. Britain and France divided rule over Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran until each was granted sovereign statehood. Wars, revolutions and coups continue.
Kurdistan is a land of rugged beauty, mountains, ravines, waterfalls, lakes and natural springs. About the size of Ohio, it is defined within the borders of the countries created by the League of Nations: Turkish Kurdistan, in eastern Turkey; Iraqi Kurdistan, in northern Iraq; Iranian Kurdistan, in northern Iran; and Western Kurdistan, in northeast Syria. Their leadership is mostly tribal and hereditary, similar to the clans of Scotland.
Saddam Hussein’s 1988 genocidal campaign against the Kurds of Iraq is among the worst of atrocities against the Kurds. Saddam’s cousin, Chemical Al, attacked the town of Halabja with nerve gas and other chemical weapons; killing 5,000 people. This was one of 60 Kurdish targets attacked with poison gas over 18 months in the “Arabization” campaign. Survivors were evicted and Iraqi Arabs were resettled in northern Iraq.
After the Gulf War of 1991 the Iraqi Peshmerga Kurds, trained by the CIA, took over parts of northern Iraq. The US and Britain established a no fly zone. United Nations Resolution 688 gave them safe haven. Iraqi Kurds held elections and the Kurdistan National Assembly was founded and based in Erbil. President Bill Clinton initiated Operation Desert Fox, and Kurdish Peshmerga became the northern front of the invasion.
UN Security Council Resolution 1441 stated that Iraq was in material breach of the cease fire relating to weapons of mass destruction and had not complied with previous Resolutions from 1991 to 2002. Hans Blix addressed the Security Council in January and February of 2003; stating that Iraq had misplaced 1,000 tons of VX nerve agent and reported that issues of anthrax and long range missiles remained unresolved. On March 19, the US led a coalition of nations and started the War with Iraq. Eventually 40 nations and the Kurds joined the coalition. That war ended on May 1.
Massive economic development in Iraqi Kurdistan includes high levels of foreign investment and infrastructure. Last month it exported 1 million barrels of crude through a Turkish port bound for Europe. There are other oil and gas pipeline projects in the works, including with the UAE and Crescent Petroleum. President Massoud Barzani participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Many believe he is paving the way for Kurdish independence from Iraq.
Terrorist insurgence by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) brought Iraq Kurdish Peshmerga to headline news this week. ISIS took control of prisons, released prisoners, and occupied an airport, military buildings, police stations, and banks. ISIS’s jihad includes public beheadings and hangings of civilians, soldiers, and police. Before the US withdrawal in 2011, US Military Forces trained Iraqi Generals. Subsequently Prime Minister Maliki removed those generals. Under attack from ISIS, and without leadership, Iraqi military troops abandoned posts in the north including Kirkuk. Peshmerga fighters swept into Kirkuk and seized control.
ISIS leader Abu Bakral Baghdadi was in detention at the US camp Bucca in Iraq, and released in 2009. This week he posted an image of an officer’s decapitated head “This is our ball. It’s made of skin #World Cup.”
Abu Muhammad Al-‘Adnani, the spokesman for ISIS, released a statement that the true battle has not begun, vowing to capture Baghdad and the holy Shiite sites of Najaf and Karbala. Al-‘Adnani criticized United States policy saying the US supports ISIS in Syria and opposes it in Iraq…while the war in Syria and the war in Iraq are the same war.
Prime Minister Maliki declared a state of emergency and appealed for help from the international community. President Obama said that he is looking at all options. A US aircraft carrier has been moved to the Persian Gulf.
From ancient times to the Crusades, the Ottomans, WWI, the Gulf War, and the current Iraqi War; war has played a role in the destiny of Kurdistan. Will Peshmerga fighters against ISIS be a deciding factor in their international recognition as an independent state? Is it plausible that Civil War in Syria; and Turmoil in Turkey will be ingredients towards independence for Kurdish populations? Fifty million Kurds would like to know.