“You can have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power.”
~ Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.

I have noticed something about a certain way the West speaks about Kurds and Kurdistan and it bothers me because it isn’t at all pleasant. It makes me wonder if these kinds of speakers realize how bad, how condescending, they sound. My case in point comes from a daily stroll through Technorati, which revealed a comment that puts into few words the entire problem, from a comment to a post on Israpundit, 12 June:

It’s time that the Kurds were given their own country. They have been friends of Israel for a very long time. This country should be made up with Kurds from Syria, Iran and Iraq. There are good reasons for this arrangement. The Kurds of Turkey are hostile so I would not include them. Reasons: 1. In Iraq, they would control the oil resorces down to Kirkuk and militarily very strong. They are not Arabs and should not be in the same government, 2. in Iran, they have a majority of the people in the north, along with other ethnic groups and could put very strong pressure on Tehran, 3. In Syria, they have been persecuted so badly that as a unity of the others could overthrow the Syrian government. If not for Winston Churchill, Kurdistan would have been a fact.

Let’s think about this.

Certainly the Başurî have been “friends” of Israel for a very long time. If we want to be slightly more precise, however, we would correctly say that Southern Kurds have been regional allies of Israel for a period of time in the not too distant past. The Rojhelatî, too, have a history of encouraging active involvement of the Kurdish Jews of the Mehabad Republic, so that the Kurdish Jews were accepted in that republic as full citizens, quite unlike anything any Jew has ever experienced in Iran.

How is it, though, that the Kurdistan that the West is prepared to “give” should only be made up of Rojava, Rojhelat and Başur? How is it that someone dares to say, “You can have this piece and this piece and this piece but not the biggest piece?” Part of you can have freedom, but the majority of Kurdistan must remain occupied by the fascist government of Turkey.

How are the Bakurî hostile? This is the biggest mischaracterization of Kurds I have ever come across, and it’s a function of someone who has swallowed Turkish propaganda entire, the same Turkish propaganda that says Kurds are “terrorists.” Of course, those who believe this are those who pretend they don’t know what’s been going on in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan for the last 83 years. They pretend that Kurds have no right to self-defence against a regime that has been engaged in genocide against them. Funny, it was Turkey who invented the whole concept of genocide as political tool, or has everyone, after all, forgotten the Armenians?

But maybe this total mischaracterization is this the sound of a guilty conscience. Let’s refresh our memories: Who was it that helped to capture Ocalan? In the years that have followed this betrayal by the international community, and especially by the US and Israel, the Bakurî still engage in no hostility toward Israel or Jews. On the other hand, maybe labeling the Bakurî as hostile is a simple way of hiding Israel’s deal with Turkey, a deal which helps to satisfy Israel’s need for water. The deal for that water, water which comes from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, was concluded with a contract Israel signed with the fascists in Ankara not long ago:

. . . [O]n March 25, 2004, Israel finally signed the agreement to buy water from Turkey. The contract is a 20-year contract in which Turkey will ship 40,500 (50 MCM) acre feet of water annual from Manavgat. Price is still being negotiated and the water may be partly paid for in military hardware. Jonathan Peled, spokesman for the Israel Foreign Ministry, said this landmark agreement turns water into an internationally accepted “commodity,”

In addition to this transaction when finally completed, Turkey plans to sell water to other countries including Malta and Cyprus.

For this, the resources of Kurdistan, the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation must wait for at least another twenty years to be considered worthy of freedom? For this, the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation must endure more of the gross human rights abuses that Turkey has perpetrated against them for the last 83 years, with the assistance of the US and Israel?

Tell me again who it is that is characterizing the Kurds under Turkish occupation as hostile?

Oh, but such a deal! It can partly be paid for in military hardware! Against whom will that military hardware be used? Against the Kurdish people!

Will the hardware only be used against the “hostile” Kurds under Turkish occupation, or is it possible that some of that military hardware is deployed right now along the border with South Kurdistan, and has been used to bomb civilians in the South–the very same Kurds that are deemed worthy of having a state?

But in dealing with fascists, one always gets one’s comeuppance. Relations between the Ankara fascists and the Israeli government–a government which is not willing to pay for water with justice–have been, well, strained. Erdogan never misses an opportunity to hypocritically criticize Israel over Palestine, military contracts have been cancelled, ambassadors have been recalled, security at Istanbul airport is not always what it should be for Israelis, and the Turkish government leaked information gleaned from Arab propaganda about the Israelis creating their own militia of Kurds in South Kurdistan. The timing on all this has been interesting, to say the least:

Unfortunately, one must cynically add a couple of additional points here. These actions come immediately after Turkey got two big things it wanted from Israel–the long-negotiated deal for Israel to import Turkish water and a major contract for construction on an Israeli power plant. Thus, it was a moment when a Turkish government could score some domestic and regional points by criticizing Israel’s defensive war against the Palestinians at little cost or risk.

More broadly, this series of events is part of a global pattern in which countries love to bully Israel while proclaiming that it is acting as a bully. Israel is an easy target because bashing it wins applause at home, may help relations with the Arab or Muslim world, and Israel is unlikely or unable to retaliate. This situation has some parallels with how Jews were treated in the Middle Ages and later times in Europe, except that today such behavior rarely affects their well-being or security.

Pardon me if I appear less than sympathetic, but my lack of sympathy has good reason. I do not lack sympathy for Turks as Turks, nor for Americans as Americans, nor for Israelis as Israelis. I lack sympathy because these, and others, have engaged in actions which maintain an intolerable position for almost 20 million Kurds in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. These actions also affect all other Kurds in the world and no amount of sweet talk about “granting” Rojavayî, Rojhelatî and Başurî a unified state of their own can change anything about the unjust occupation and suffering of the other half of the world’s Kurds.

Pardon me for rejecting the condescension of the powers that be which would “allow” Kurds to have their own city, their own heart, their own “Jerusalem”–as Mam Celal once said–Kerkuk, Dilê Kurdistan. I do not recognize the authority of these powers, the same powers who divided Kurdistan in the first place and relegated the Kurdish people to enslavement under cruel and tyrannical regimes. Kerkuk is Kurdish and no one else has any right to give, grant, permit, or allow Kurds to have it or not. Kerkuk should be reclaimed by Kurds at this very moment, and if no one likes it, let them come to the mountains and fight for Kerkuk for the next forty years.

The same can be said about a greater independent Kurdistan: It is no one’s to grant. The Kurdish people, as a people, have an inalienable right to a free and independent Greater Kurdistan. Make no mistake, as long as the majority of the world’s Kurds continue to suffer the brutality inflicted upon them by the fascist Ankara regime, there will be no peace in the region, nor will the region deserve peace.

Pardon me for completing the thought begun by the remark, “Kurds are not Arabs and should not be in the same government.” Neither are Kurds Turks or Persians nor should Kurds be in those governments. Kurds are Kurds, Kurdistan is one, and it should be ruled by one Kurdish government from the Kurdish capital, Amed.

Pardon me for my lack of enthusiasm for doing the West’s dirty work of overthrowing regimes that are hostile to Western interests. If the West had ever engaged Kurds transparently over matters like this, instead of forever treating Kurds worse than third-rate field hands in a cotton field on a plantation in the American South, perhaps I would see some room for dialog. However, an agreement on this, or any other subject, must be negotiated and concluded only in the interests of the Kurdish people and not for the sake of the West nor for the sake of any of the occupying states.

Kurds really do have nothing to lose by refusing to cooperate with the West unless such cooperation serves Kurdish interests alone.

After all, we still have the mountains.


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