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Kurds, Iraqi elections and stability
Let's hope that all Kurds in Iraq make a hand-written mark on their ballot for either autonomy or independence

January 18 2005

As usual, disrupting regional unity and stability remains the excuse to prevent the Kurds from having the option of determining their destiny in the upcoming Iraqi election. Unity might suggest a higher level of development in a democratic society where the law guarantees equal rights; however, in autocratic societies of the Middle East it is only an excuse for fear of loss of domination.

Kurds have been suppressed, tortured, bombed, displaced, exiled, sold, and raped, yet they are expected to remain loyal in keeping the identity of their oppressors for the sake of unity. Such unity is either a sham or a forceful unification with an unstable foundation that sooner or later needs correction.

A forceful unification of people with different rights and privileges has been the basis of current " stability" or status quo in the Middle East! With all due respect and appreciation for the contribution of many Turks, Persians and Arabs to our common humanity, we witness that many Turkish, Persian and Arab ethnocentric politicians minimize the importance of Kurdish language, culture and identity and advise the Kurds to think globally; yet they become hypocritical and their xenophobia reaches its peak, when they are challenged to apply the same principle to their own identity.

One might advise the Turks and Persians to forget their heritage and join the 22 Arab countries in making Arabic their official language for the sake of unity in the Middle East. One might advise the Arabs that the era of "Islamic civilization" is over and it is time to integrate English language and the values of the contemporary "American civilization" into their culture for the sake of global unity.

Needless to say, most of these people rightfully would feel insulted and react with outrage to such advisement. Yet these people expect the Kurds to be pleased with having no choice but to become Turks, Persians, and Arabs to have a role in the society or even to attend public schools.

Most Kurdish children first received parental love and affection in their own language; yet by law, they have not been allowed to learn Kurdish beyond home. Despite denial of this very basic human right, they are expected to give priority to unity and develop love and affection for a country that dictates discriminatory laws.

The history of many developed and independent nations reminds us that cultural, social and economic development is almost impossible without statehood. After recognition via statehood many nations have changed their rebellious behavior of frustration to a behavior of peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

Only a state could give the Kurdish youth a sense of identity and pride and a full access to an education in their own language. Only a state could prepare a new generation of Kurds to negotiate as equal partners with Turks, Arabs, and Persians in resolving their chronic ethnic conflict with peaceful means. Only via statehood could the Kurds make progress and become capable of building a stronger foundation for a future voluntary union with whoever is convinced of equality and peaceful coexistence.

A Kurdish state could contribute to the regional stability as well. A Kurdish State could add to stability of Turkey by becoming a buffer zone to prevent the influence of extreme Islam and theocracy in this Semi-European country. A Kurdish state could be a reliable and neutral intermediary between those Arabs who were previously discriminated against, such as Shiite, and those who might be discriminated against in the future, such as Sunnis.

Since culturally all Kurds have much in common with other Iranian ethnic groups, a Kurdish state could be an additional state to participate in protecting and flourishing the rich Iranian heritage. A Kurdish state could build new alliances with few other "unwanted nations" in the region, such as Israel, Libya, and Palastine.

Since the Kurds and Israelis are seen as strangers, Libyans are returning to civilized world, and Palestinians finally elected a leader through democratic means, together they could build a unified block to stabilize and balance the power equation in the region against defenders of dark ages! In order to fulfill those dreams, Kurds need at least one state if not four!

Since the option of having a Kurdish federal or independent state is not in the upcoming Iraqi ballot, let's hope that all Kurds in Iraq ignore the ignorance of Kurdish semi-establishment in Baghdad and make a hand-written mark on their ballot for either autonomy or independence, even if their mark might not be considered official by dominant forces yet!

Kamal H. Artin, MD, is from the Kurdish-American Education Society in Orange County, California.

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Kamal H. Artin



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