By Arab News
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
The Kurdish people have enjoyed the highest form of freedom for thousands of years. They mainly lived in northern Syria, east of Turkey, west of Iran and north of Iraq. They enjoyed the ability to move from place to another without any restrictions. They were one people, one language and one form of life. The number of Kurds all over the world is over 30 million. But, they don’t have a nation. Before World War I, they didn’t need one. They were free to wander around. They are Muslims. But not Arabs. And it should have made no difference. Islam has no nationality. But, the Kurdish people are different. No one wants them to be in their territory, yet no one wants to give them their own territory.
With my humble knowledge, I will only talk about the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran; not the Kurds scattered all over the world. Books will be needed if you write about the Kurds. They were subjected to relocations and they were considered a lower class in all the nations they lived in. The Turkish territories are the most beautiful part of these countries. After the World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, new nations were created. No one single piece of territory was given to the Kurdish people. And the Kurds couldn’t move through the borders of these new nations. And even though the 1920 Treaty of Sevres was intended to introduce new states including one for the Kurds, it never saw the light. And after the takeover of Turkey by Kamal Attaturk, the Kurds were not even allowed to speak their language. It was a crime to say the words Kurd or Kurdish. And it wasn’t until the 1990s when the Turkish people heard the word Kurds.
The highest number of Kurds in any one nation is Turkey. There are about 15 million Kurdish people. Why they are considered a minority if they 15 million people? The Kurds in Turkey were in an open war with the Turkish government for many years and to this day. And at the same time the Iraqi Kurds were under constant air raids by the Iraqi Air Force. The number of Iraqi raids and the amount of ammunitions that were used by the Iraqi government in the 1960s and 70s was the reason why Saddam Hussein had agreed to the Shatt Al-Arab agreement in Algeria when the Shah of Iran met Saddam in the mid-70s. The Iraqis simply ran out of ammunitions. The Iraqi Air Force and Turkish Air Force were engaged in the longest air raid campaign in the history of air wars.
The war has been going on for the past 45 years. Yes, the Iraqis stopped using their air force when the American showed up in 2003. But, it wasn’t after the use of every kind of weapon that was forbidden by the international community. It was an American magazine (the Newsweek) which broke the news of mass chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabgah. No one knows to this day how many Kurds were killed by Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. And the ironic thing about those four countries is that they are the ones who make the loudest noise when Israel uses its military might against the Palestinians. I am not saying the Israelis are right, but why those four countries always brag about their weapons if they use it against their own people… Oh, I am sorry, Kurds are not considered humans by those four countries.
In Syria, the Kurds are not even recognized in any way. It is like they don’t even exist. They live in Syria, but without the simplest form of rights. It was only two months ago that President Bashar Assad declared that Kurds will be given the status of citizens. Why now and not 80 years ago? And in Iran, there was a call for a “holy war” against the Kurdish areas. The Kurds helped the Iranians overthrow the Shah in 1979. But, they weren’t given a single seat in the newly formed Majlis. The irony is that the Mullahs threw the Shah out to bring equality among all Iranians. And to this day people ask the Iranians, how can a Muslim country initiate a “holy war” against Muslims (the Kurds).
What really surprises me about Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq is, every government official in those four countries knows who is the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. And what is his health status during his capture. But, not one of these four countries ever revealed the number of dead and injured Kurds. We see the United Nations spend billions of dollars to save ten thousand people from an earthquake, disease and flooded cities. But, we never heard of even a speech talking about more than 30 million Kurds. With all the vast area in the Middle East, not one piece of territory was given to the Kurds. The Kurds can make the territory more beautiful and more productive. Just look at Iraq’s Kurdistan and you will see how sophisticated and hard working the Kurds is. Why not give them a chance to cultivate, build and modernize their own territory? We saw the United Nations listen to the voice of the Southern Sudanese. And they were given their own country. The United Nations even divided Sudan for the Southern Sudanese. But, we never heard anyone speak about the right of 30 million Kurds to have a place they could call home.