Dignity a priority
Kurdish national identity
By Kamal H. Artin
June 18, 2004
In the denial stage, individuals may blame others
facing difficulties. The collective mindset of
individuals resembles a society's culture. On a societal level, the Middle
East seems to be the prototype of a blaming culture. It is likely that arrogance,
excessive ethnocentricity, and crystallized mistrust of its statesmen and religious
leaders, both of whom might be the same individual, have led the Middle East
to remain socially and politically very primitive.
Often the West is blamed for
the misery that the Middle Eastern societies have created for themselves (previously
both blocks used to be blamed). Kurds are no better than their neighbors in
the region in blaming others for their misery. Kurds have been
blaming the dominant
ethnic groups such as Arabs, Turks and Persians for denying their rights and
imposing their identity on them; they have called those among themselves who
side with their
oppressors "Jawsh", hinting to the offspring of an animal who is
running ahead of it's mother, for wrong-doing.
Some now blame the US and
argue that recent selection of the interim government in Iraq is connected
to the upcoming elections to be held in the United States; they
believe that the
current US administration needs to: satisfy major national and international
opponents before the US presidential election and must ignore the basic human
rights of the Kurds again. Some attribute the persistent denial of Kurdish
rights by their opponents to the tribal structure of the Kurdish
political parties who
do not give priority to Kurdish national identity. Some blame the Arabs,
Turks, and Persians for preventing any serious move toward resolving
the Kurdish issue
once and forever.
While all of these might be part of the facts, rarely
does anyone points to the fact that the Kurdish society is a primitive
and has a long way to go in order to run its own affairs in this
modern era. Many
Kurdish intellectuals have started pointing their pen against PDK and PUK,
the two main political parties in Iraqi-Kurdistan. While this
might be indicative
of good insight to recognize one's own deficiency first, blaming PUK and
PDK alone without mentioning the contributing factors might not lead to
any corrective action from the society as a whole.
Although these parties
may be failing to
secure the right to self-determination in Kurdistan in this critical
stage, all things considered, they remain somewhat defendable.
Unfortunately, in order to
defend them, the blame has to be shifted to the outside again. Maybe
KDP and PUK are pragmatic and aware that they have neither financial
to run a country effectively and therefore have to be dependent on others,
even if it means the loss of dignity. Maybe the biased and previously
inefficient United Nations and its representative, Mr. Brahimi,
have convinced the Kurdish
leaders that they will fail unless they are under the superior Arab rule.
they are preparing the high-ranking Kurds to function as ministers in
Baghdad to gain leadership experience so that they can run their
own affairs in
Maybe Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani are deliberately
avoiding any serious confrontation
in order to gain further international recognition and to win, if not
a Nobel peace prize from Europe, at least a prize from the neighboring
negligence and abandonment of their Kurdish constituents. Maybe they
are convinced that they need to remain tribal in order to survive
Shiite and Sunni
tribes and under the leadership of sheikhs, ayatollahs, kings, and
And worst of all, maybe Mr.
Bremer has threatened that, if they don't keep quiet, the US will
let the neighboring wild wolves, sharks, and vultures attack them
Maybe they are experiencing nightmares from the past betrayal
of the left
and right political
groups of the dominant cultures. Maybe they experience constant insecurity
and fear and their dignity is not a priority now.
Once the dignity of the majority
of the Kurds and their leaders becomes a priority, as might be the case among
many developed nations, the Kurds might start looking inward; then they might
use Gandhi's model to remain passive and sacrifice everything except human
lives to fulfill their dreams. In such a stage, they might become free of fear
and insecurity and stop negotiating and exchanging any tribally satisfying
rewards for their dignity and national identity. Once their identity
is recognized and
respected and they have tasted their freedom, they might reach a higher level
of development to voluntarily give up their Kurdish identity and become free
members of a united Middle Eastern federation and, finally, citizens of earth.
H. Artin, MD, is from the
Kurdish-American Education Society in Orange County, California.
goodbye to spam!