Islamic Arab Iraq? What
Warning in a season of
December 21, 2004
The Iraqi Prime Minister has reportedly stated,
"Iraq will remain an Islamic Arab state" (kurdistanobserver.com,
Dec.19, 2004). I was initially disappointed by Mr. Allawi's
statement, and then I thought he deserves an appreciation for his
I doubt that a well-educated leader such as Mr. Allawi, would prefer
the rule of religion for all Iraqis. I assume he is just attentive
to the wishes of some of his constituents.
While the majority of
Arabs in Iraq might well desire an Islamic Arab state, to my
knowledge and with due respect to Arabs and Muslims, the majority
do not identify themselves as Arabs, nor recognize Islam as the
answer to the challenges they face in this era, even if many
of them have integrated Islamic form of spirituality into their
I hope that the Kurdish leaders in Iraq also pay
attention to their constituents, who expressed their wish in a
signed by over 1.7 million people. Hopefully the Iraqi people
do not have to go through the same horror that Iranian and Afghanis
went through during the past few decades!
In the late 1970s the Kurds in Iran were poorly informed and
not warned by Iranian leaders in Paris, Qom, and Tehran and regretfully
participated in the Iranian revolution. Soon they noticed that
a mildly ill monarchy has been transformed into a malignant religious
republic, which had no mercy for those who were not conforming.
The new president of this republic, who a few years later had
to flee back to Paris himself, had told his soldiers not to take
boots off until they have suppressed the Kurdish uprising for
autonomy completely. Still it is difficult for many Kurds to forget
in which Kurdish cities and villages were being bombed and burning
people in fire were screaming for help.
Needless to say that
the horror was not necessarily related to Islam but to the ideology
of Semi Arabic and Islamic clergy in Iran, who believe that
Islam and Arabic culture are sacred, superior, and answer everyone's
The malignancy in Iran apparently started to spread to
rest of the world. At that time the Iranian Kurds neither had
received a warning nor were supported by the international community;
that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders are fortunate to be warned by
Mr. Allawi and are relatively supported by the one and the only
it will be difficult to justify a possible mistake of not taking
the warning seriously.
To my understanding the majority of the Kurds prefer a secular
government, which guarantees self-determination and a right to
choose between a federative state and few independent states. However,
if Iraq were heading in the direction that Mr. Allawi is suggesting,
I am wondering why should the Kurds not learn form the past and
allow their history to repeat itself.
If the Kurdish identity and
aspiration is ignored again, why should Kurdish leaders ignore
this unique historic opportunity and not declare independence
now? For now let's hope that Mr. Allawi is a professional politician
with good intentions and is only making this statement to calm
some of his constituents who might lack tolerance for freedom!
If this is not the case, let's hope the Kurdish leadership
mobilizes all the Kurds to participate in a movement of Gandhi's
style for an ultimate liberation.
Above all let's hope for a peaceful transition in the Middle
East especially in this season when many cultures celebrate victory
of light over darkness in ceremonies such as Kwanzaa, Yalda, Hanukah,
Christmas etc! Let's wish a happy holiday to all of those, who
celebrate this season for humanistic and peaceful missions of their
belief system and not to claim that their cultural norms are superior
to others people's values!
Kamal H. Artin, MD, is from the Kurdish-American Education
Society in Orange County, California.