Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

The Geo-political power equations today appear conducive for independent Kurdish state. Sitting on huge oil reserve, Iraqi Kurdistan has already become a power center in Iraq. The political situation in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria all together appear amenable for a Kurdistan.
Independent Kurdistan would prove a defining event in the region and the world. This will bring many changes in the existing formats of engagements. An important possibility would be opening up of the societies of the region, to non-religious nuanced social perspectives in polity and governance.

Kurds in History
The Kurd history is strange and important. These are ancient people of Indo-Iranian ethnic stock, who have lived in mountain ranges (between Iranian plateau and Euphrates), that spread into Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. The population of Kurds is between 30 – 50 Millions. Like other ancient people Kurds are heterogeneous with diverse groups, histories, roots, cultures, languages and religious beliefs. Again, like any other ancient people they appear trapped in homogenous religious people-nation-state conception. Kurds are bound by a fluid yet strong Kurdish identity, something that has withstood the onslaught of Arab, Iranian and Turk forces for centuries. While identities and fate of their tormentors have changed over time, Kurds have remained deeply rooted in their heterogeneous identity.
Kurds, with roots in mountainous regions are closely knit in their indigenous complex network of religious, societal life and cultural tradition. They have survived on a cultural fault line of Arab-Iranian divide. Perhaps the hoary past links and mountain for refuge helped them in survival strategy. There long experience with other players in the region has helped them in evolving a complex and mulch-layered response and understanding in dealings with dominant exclusivist religious ideas. No wonder Shia or Sunni, a Kurd, unlike other orthodox Muslims is invariably strongly attached to some Sufi order. It won’t be farfetched to recollect here nomadic pastoral Van Gujjars of Northern Himalayan region who are Sunni Muslims and socially divided in clans and gotras like Hindu ancestry and are strict vegetarian!
Kurds speak various languages. These languages are classified in dialect groups like Northern Kurmanji (dialect group), Central (Sorani dialect group) and Southern group (Part of the Sorani dialect group) including Kermanshahi, Ardalani and Laki etc.
Majority of Kurds are Muslim followers of Sunni and Shia schools. The rest Kurdish people follow diverse ancient faiths like Yezidism, Yarsanism, Alevism and also Christianity. Kurds have ancient Hurrian roots; that connects them to Kassite and Hittite people of mid- second millennium BC who, as increasing evidence indicates, were connected to the Vedic Aryans.
Kurds succumbed to Islamic forces in the 7th century; assimilation into Islamic fold was as often as were the revolts against the Caliphate.
Kurds came under Ottoman Empire around 13th century AD. In 1920, after World War I, with the dissolution of Ottoman Empire, the Treaty of Sevres was signed. It proposed an independent Kurdistan out of the Ottoman territory. This treaty was rejected shortly.
When the state of Turkey came into being in 1923 and the treaty of Lausanne was signed, it refused the autonomous Kurdish state and in years to follow, armed uprising of the Kurds for independence was suppressed.
Kurds have been persecuted by Iraq, Iran and Turkey singly or in unison. Stateless Kurds have been cynically used (for destabilizing other country) by one and all. They were used by the Turks in Armenian genocide with brutal effect. Kurds have been fighting for their independence often changing sides and partners. The mass gas poisoning of Kurds by Iraq (with support of countries like US, Germany, Britain and France etc.) has been a cornerstone Kurdish history. Kurds remain what they often repeat – the largest nation in Middle East without a State. Today when political stability of many countries is on a slippery ground, Independent Kurdistan can be start point for new alignments.
Then who is afraid of Independent Kurdistan? – Almost ‘Everyone’! Why? Because on the stake is our modern understanding of concept of nation and state that constitute the bedrock of world order.
The modern concept of nation and state is based on a religious, ethnic-racial homogeneity. Homogeneity is considered as the unifying force for a nation. More homogenous a nation is, more focused, decisive and efficient and powerful government will be – the argument goes. It was this premise upon which American and British diplomats wrote-off India and bet upon Pakistan, as potential successful state, in 1947. The insidious aspect of this argument namely the status of minority in such a state is now rarely spoken of today. Countries and UN has surrendered humanistic values for petty diplomatic and political benefits. No wonder OIC in garb of religious rights is arguing on issues that were plainly impossible a couple of decades ago.

( to be concluded)

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