Recently the media has been talking about Iran as another potential war zone. Some might wonder what the role of the Kurds would be in such a situation. Foremost, I hope and assume that because of being the victims of genocide, war, and abuse, the Kurds wish that no one goes through their bitter experience!
A quarter of a century ago hopeful Iranian youths were receiving loaded messages from different political groups. The ruling monarchists and the oppressed clergies were calling each other puppets of the West. They both were calling the left, agents of the East (communists), and liberals, the agents of the wind. Meanwhile the left and right were calling the oppressed-but-assertive Kurds “treacherous separatists” and welcomed their suppression with all means. Above all every social, political, and economic problem was attributed to the influence of an external factor, America, the “Great Satan”.
The ultimate winners were the clergy who mobilized fundamentalists. Under the influence of propaganda, some Iranians conformed to the power of force, some lost their lives, some lost their hope and found refuge in addiction, and some found hope in migrating to a foreign land.
Since then, fundamentalists have further stirred up the Middle East, spread their ideas to other countries, murdered many who had found refuge in the free world, and created a competition for violence to the point that one of its factions destroyed the World Trade Center in a city that symbolizes freedom, tolerance, and prosperity!
Surprisingly, the “Great Satan” still trusts the fundamentalists in their new Mecca, the artificial Iraq, and follows their lead. But at the same time, America ignores the plight of the Kurds, who have been described by some of those fundamentalists as “Satan worshipers”.
It seems the US is afraid of losing the support of some of its allies, who look at the Kurds the way the Nazis looked at Jews or the Ku Klux Klan looks at blacks. Likely it is based on such fear that the current U.S. Secretary of the State and her predecessor, who should know the history of second class citizens, assure the status of the dominant groups in the Middle East. They both seem to ignore the plight of the Kurds to the point of avoiding words such as “Kurds” or “Kurdistan” in their vocabulary, in the name of unity.
Since unity suggests a higher stage of development, any establishment considers separatism as taboo or something undesirable. There is not much indication that the Third World is at such stage of development to value and respect equality yet.
Considering the lack of conscience and underdeveloped mind of many leaders of the opposing groups, the Kurds should break the taboo and welcome separatism as the most appropriate alternative at this stage.
An imbalanced unity can cause separatism by developed separate entities who could unite as well. Since Iraqi Kurds have passed through the initial developmental stage of statehood and might not be betrayed by the US at this time, they should claim their independence now and help other parts of Kurdistan to go through similar stages.
As for Iranian Kurds, who have much in common with other Iranian ethic groups, the most appropriate peaceful step now is likely to keep a cautious balance between remaining within Iran and developing close ties with other Kurds until the public is ready to accept a democratic referendum for independence vs. federalism in Iran!
Kamal H. Artin, MD, is from the Kurdish-American Education Society in Orange County, California.