The problem with the Kurds
They are trusting to their own ruin
December 4, 2003
My first experience with a "real" Kurd
(not the cousin of someone's wife that used to live in Kermanshah
once, or the
new bride of so and so that is 1/8th Kurd, etc.) was a few short
months after the fall of Shah's regime. One of our neighbors had
been amongst the thousands of people who took part in looting of
Shah's army bases.
This was not an act of larceny or senseless
vandalism. The two days that ended the reign of Monarchy in Tehran
were filled with street battles as certain bases and officers disobeying
their superior's orders and were defending their barracks with
every bullet they had available.
As the other bases fell to people's
incursion, many were arming themselves to either join battles
in other parts of the city or to stash them away, expecting a retaliation
of sort to follow any possible change of government. Perhaps
what had happened 3 decades ago and the first time they got rid
of their monarch under the leadership of Dr. Mossadegh.
This neighbor of ours had kept what he had taken,
despite the calls by the new government to turn the weapons in
within days of announcing
a new government. One day while we were just being kids, playing
outdoors, raising some havoc of one kind or another, his son bragged
that tonight "the Kurds" are coming to take their guns.
I could not prevent my nosey self to stay clear of that and on
that night, I used all the trick a 12 year old can think of to
get an invitation to their house and be present at this historic
Shortly after a late supper that evening, the father
allowed an old light-colored Paykan into their covered garage and
this guy in a full traditional Kurdish outfit. He was a towering
man of about 40, with a sun darkened skin, a big moustache and
looked as if he could take on 5 wrestlers at once. Kak Abdullah
was the first Kurd I had met.
Within a few short minutes and after swiftly downing
the mandatory tea served to every guest entering an Iranian household,
money exchanged hands and Kak Abdullah picked up the small
under a bed in my friend's room, opened the trunk of his car
and put the G3, M1 and MP5, plus an army sleeping bag full
and grenades besides other weapons already in there and pulled
the car out.
As he drove away, I followed him through the rooftops,
climbing from one to another and watched when he stopped
at the main intersection and picked up a passenger, a younger man
in what can be described as a peasant's outfit and then they
both drove off. The passenger had obviously acted as the
this entire transaction was taking place.
Over the next few months after that, an all out war broke out
within the Kurdish provinces of Iran. The main Kurdish political
entity; Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), that was
advocating politics of self-rule and autonomy within the borders
of Iran, had been joined by other forces in the region in taking
control of the cities and villages across the land.
The new regime
saw this as a challenge to its authority and despite attempts by
several political figures of the time to mediate the situation
in a democratic and non-violent way, Ayatollah Khomeini issued
a fatwa, opening the doors to a massive operation to take back
control of the region for the central government.
slaughtered during this time and years later, I still hear stories
such as the way artillery and tank brigades took control of the
hills surrounding the city of Mahabd and started shelling the city
and its civilian population at random for days at a time. Many
families still have their dead buried in their own backyards as
they could not leave their houses for a long time.
Fast forward to earlier this year. A few days before the invasion
of Iraq I reconnected with an old Kurd friend. We had always had
a close understanding of one another, the type you don't need to
explain yourself to for mutual understanding. We had attended many
events together before and organized even more. We linked and bonded
through his party; the PDKI, my party; the NDP, and together through
He was cautious yet cheerful and very light-hearted. I wanted
to warn him of the road ahead, of the way they will be abandoned
used again, the destination this path was leading to, where nothing
resembled where they wanted to go.
But it was too late. He said
I was not being sensible to think differently; Zalmay Khalilzad
himself had invited them to a meeting in Turkey to reinforce
their commitments and to ensure that the Kurds will not be used
This time was going to be different. The Kurds will be running
the show, they were told. Their demands will be front and center.
A few days later, the bombs started to fall.
Fast forward to last Thursday evening. My mobile phone rings,
it's him. I can't talk, being in the middle of something else.
if I can call him back, he says not yet but he only needs 30 seconds.
I listen as his voice is crumbling. He says you were right. I take
no joy in hearing that. He says he has had enough.
He had doubted
things when Turkish troops were invited to guard their land but
when "they" had asked Talabani to go meet Ayatollah Sistani
and negotiate his approval, he knew this was not their show anymore.
They are instruments of the occupiers now, officially. He just
wanted to say I was right and he'll call as soon as he reaches
If there's such a thing as reincarnation, I must've been a Kurd
in my past life. How could you not respect and admire the people
who have survived some of the most vicious attacks by enemies
from near and far for a big part of modern history, yet have
to maintain their dignity, their unique sense of culture and
arts, their wonderful customs and language, and their distinctive
A smile is never that far from the lips of a Kurd
when meeting a stranger, and neither is a song when happy or
when facing injustice. Kurds personify what every human being
strives to be; strong, sensitive, responsible and sincere.
This also is
their main problem.
From my experience, Kurds can't fathom that others are not like
Kurds. They are sincere to a fault, candid to an end, trusting
to their own ruin. They believed Ambassador Zalmay as they
believed many before him. They don't know how not to.
>>> News & politics
this page to your friends