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The Necessity of Safeguarding The Kurdish Self-Rule

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2003 4:51 am
by Eamad Mazouri
The Necessity of Safeguarding The Kurdish Self- Rule

by Eamad Mazouri

In May 1992, the Iraqi Kurds held the first free democratic elections under the auspices of the international monitors. As a result, the Kurdistan National Assembly (Parliament) was born and a federal government was established. These democratic institutions were chosen by the Kurdistani people of their free will to run their affairs out of Baghdad’s control in a free atmosphere, a task that has been accomplished outstandingly and in a most admirable manner.
One of the major issues the Kurds have been diligently working on is to let it be known to whomever it may concern that they absolutely reject to be in any union with other Iraqis on a basis other than a voluntary union. The sheer idea of maintaining this involuntary union that has tied the Kurds forcefully and against their free will to the Iraqi state should totally be abandoned.
The other momentous subject that concerns the Kurds and ought to worry other Iraqis is the tendency of some to install a strong central government in Baghdad. As if the Iraqis in general and the Kurds and Shiites in particular have readily forgotten all the horrifying crimes and atrocities committed against them by such regimes. Iraqis have to realize that such a call is a perfect recipe for dictatorship, war and disaster.
The Kurds, through their legitimate leadership have been seeking to underscore their demand in federalism and corporate this concept in the future democratic united federation of Iraq. They have been extremely keen to include that nationally built requisition into the new forthcoming Iraqi constitution.
For years, the Kurds have aspired to gain recognition from Iraqi Arabs, the neighboring countries and the international community to acknowledge this very fact. They have faced various challenges from every direction aiming at undermining their democratic experience, which they hold so dearly. First, some Iraqi Arabs (Nationalists, Baathists, and Fundamentalists) are unjustifiably alleging that partitioning Iraq into 2-3 federated territories actually means dividing Iraq as a unified country. On the contrary, a federal system that satisfies the very fundamental concerns of the people who make up the fabric of the Iraqi society is the right approach and perhaps the only viable resolve to keep the country together. Let’s not forget that only freedom of choice does bring people together, while coercion distance them from each other, not to mention the chaos and turmoil it creates.
From the other end of the equation, we have the neighboring countries, and specifically Turkey trying everything in order to abort the current Kurdish experience and to prevent any future Kurdish gains in Iraq or anywhere else for that matter. They have done so through various venues, by meddling in the internal affairs of the Iraqi Kurdistan, employing their leverage with U.S. led coalition, and plotting a variety of schemes to discredit the Kurds and their just cause. Naturally, all their attempts failed. The Kurdish regional government remains an invaluable ally to the coalition forces, not only in deposing of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, but also in maintaining security and peace and participating actively and effectively in rebuilding a new democratic Iraq.
There are numerous occasions, where the Kurdish leadership has went out of its way to reassure them time and again, that the Kurds have no intention whatsoever to set up an independent Kurdish state. They have made it very clear with or without occasion that they are committed to the integrity of Iraq so long as their demands in federalism are met.
The latest assurance came from His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani. In a conference that was held a couple of days ago in Kurdistan, for the Iraqi regional leaders and businessmen, His Excellency warned against tempering with the Kurdish self-rule, saying: such an attempt would threaten the peace and stability. His Excellency reiterated once again that it would be impossible to regain stability in Iraq without finding a permanent and just solution to the Kurdish problem. He stated and I quote” All those who are concerned, should try to understand the Kurdish position, it would be a grave mistake to ignore the Kurdish demands”. His Excellency further emphasized the Kurds’ anxiousness to be part of Iraq on the basis of a voluntary union “ we want to resolve the Kurdish problem within the Iraqi borders” in an open reference to dissipate the frequently expressed but unsubstantiated Turkish fears of the Kurds’ intentions to establish a Kurdish state in Iraqi Kurdistan. In his speech, Mr. Prime Minister offered sharing Kurdistan natural resources with the rest of Iraq as long as other parts are willing to do the same, stipulating that the new constitution recognizes Kurdish demands. Finally, His Excellency called for good neighborly relationships with all the Iraqi neighbors, including Turkey.
Now there is no ambiguity in the Kurdish demands nor they are unreasonable. These demands hardly match the long odyssey of the Kurdish struggle and their countless sacrifices in lives and property over the years. The Iraqis, the regional countries and the international community should not have any difficulty in seeing and understanding that. The Kurds have suffered too much not to fathom the complexity of their plight. They do believe in the democratic process as long as it is conducted under the supervision of the world community. The Kurds have every reason not to trust a strong central government in Baghdad. The international community has ignored the Kurdish issue long enough. Today there is a chance to find a solution and this historic momentum shouldn’t be overlooked. At the present the Kurds justifiably consider themselves a major element of stability and peace. They have proved that beyond any doubt especially during operation Iraqi Freedom and in dealing with the aftermath. They intend to play their rule as loyal allies to the coalition forces and contribute aggressively and uncompromisingly to the establishment of a democratic federated Iraq, where Kurds are recognized as actual equal partners.

The Kurds Have No Hand in The Latest Violent Episode In Kerk

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 9:49 pm
by Eamad Mazouri
The Kurds Have No Hand in The Latest Violent Episode In Kerkuk

Eamad Mazouri

Today, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership represented in Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan(PUK) has issued a joint statement, condemning the latest episode of vilent acts that occurred Wednesday in Kurdish oil city of Kerkuk.
The statement denied any Kurdish involvement in starting the troubles, placing the whole blame on the Turkman Front and the Sunni Arab nationalists who are still supporting the ousted regime of the Baath party and Saddam Hussein, as well as some Arab foreigners who were caught by the Kurds and handed over to the coalition forces.
About a week ago, the Kurds organized with proper permissions a peacful march calling for Kerkuk to be integrated in Iraqi Kurdistan as it always was before the Arabization process.
Their demands included also calls for granting Iraqi Kurdistan a federal status based on ethnicity and history. Yesterday, The Turkman’s Front joining the Sunni Arab Nationalists staged an unauthorized demonstration that included armed men, that ended up raiding on the Kurdish political parties’ headquarters in the city.
Since day one, the CPA has decided that the situation in Kerkuk can only be resolved through a long judicail process. The Kurds , and especially the destitude original inhabitants of the city who were cast out and stripped of their properties by the Baath regime while replacing Arabs in their homes, have been waiting patiently for the day when their long ordeal would be over and they would be allowed to return to their homes. The peaceful changes were unfolding in favor of the Kurds, slowly but steadily. The first elected governer of the city was a Kurd who became a target of an assasination by the Turkish special forces last year, when the plot was discovered by U.S. soldiers, the Turkish elements were arrested and handed over to Turkey.
The natural course satisfied the Kurdish demands. Therefore, the Kurds were and are for the prevalence of security and stability in the city. The Kurds have no motive in causing these troubles. And the consequences end up harming their just cause.
However, there are others who have good motive to stir up trouble in the strategic oil city in order to create anarchy and turmoil. Foreign hands played a major role in the unfortunate incident and they cooked the whole plot in cooperation with Turkman’s Front and the Sunni Arab nationalists. They are trying, to no avail, to reverse the course of democratic changes the Iraq of post Saddam is witnessing today.
Iraqi people in general with all its ethnic and religious groups, and the Kurds in particular are very joyful today that The U.S. led coalition saved them from the dictatorial regime of Saddam, and the democratic changes are inevetable. The Kurds who were victimized long by the deposed regime will receive justic under the supervision of the international community. Democracy, freedom and liberties would eventually prevail. Iraqis will rebuild their country into a united democratic federation where Kurdistan is recognized as a federal territorial unit, united with Iraq only on a voluntaru basis, where all the people of Iraq live in peace, harmony and prosperity.

The Kurds: The Orphans of The World

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 9:49 pm
by Eamad Mazouri
The Kurds: The Orphans of The World

Eamad Mazouri

It was the Kurds’ misfortune to be surrounded by neighbors such as Turkey, Iran Iraq and Syria, consequently to be treated like the orphans of the world. None of which believes in an iota of democratic principles, in an age where the rest of the world is eyeing the exploration of the space for the future of mankind while these governments still are stuck in the mud of their own make.
For years, these governments- notwithstanding their bottomless differences- have conspired and plotted against the Kurds and their future. Starting with the division of Kurdistan, through The Saa’d Abad Treaty in 1937, to Baghdad Pact of 1955 and CENTO in 1959, ending with the1975 Algiers Treaty between former Dictator Saddam and the late Shah of Iran.
The concept of sovereignty they boast so much about and claim to cherish today became meaningless when they were pursuing and chasing the Kurdish rebellions across their frontiers.
Their coordination and cooperation was limitless until this very day, in crashing the Kurdish uprisings and killing Kurdish civilians, waging campaign after another under various denominations, of ethnic cleansing that amounted occasionally to actual genocidal war, its objective of course; the total annihilation of the Kurdish population, simply because long ago they have given up on their useless policies of assimilation.
The destitute Kurds surrounded, were completely defenseless in the face of such atrocities. As their famous proverb goes: they had only mountains as their friends to seek shelter.
However, even mountains rendered futile in the face of the modern sophisticated weapons of mass destructions that were employed against them in the Kurdish town of Halabja where more than 5000 lives perished, mostly women, children and elderly and else where, and in al-Anfal campaign were 180,000 Kurds were murdered.
Today, after 12 years of self-rule, these governments once again are resorting to their old games. Turkey could not stand watching the Kurds gaining their legitimate rights on the other side of its borders, following their long odyssey of struggle and sacrifices in Iraqi Kurdistan. Therefore it started stirring up troubles using its 5th column embodied in the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) in the historic Kurdish city of Kerkuk. Regrettably, they succeeded to certain degree in baiting in also the Sunni Arabs who were originally brought to the city by Saddam to replace the forcibly evicted Kurds.
I would like to pose this question to the Turkmen and Turkish Authorities. Where was Turkey all the years when Iraqi people including Turkmen were getting massacred by the Iraqi regime? Suddenly, out of blue, comes Songul Cabuk, the Turkmen member of the Iraqi Governing Council who was working with the regime until the day it was removed started calling for the establishment of the so-called Turkmenistan on the Kurdish land. Turkmen are scattered communities that do not constitute even 5% of the Iraqi population; half of them live outside Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is obvious Turkey has no interest in Turkmen; it is rather taking advantage of them to thwart any Kurdish gains and the clear gains of all the ethnic and religious groups in Kurdistan.
The future of Turkmen is with the Kurdistanis, where they belong and are enjoying their rights and have lived together with the rest of the population for centuries in peace and harmony. Today, Kurdistan is in need of the contribution of all its citizens regardless of their ethnicity or religion to preserve and advance their achievements. The democratic accomplishments of the Kurdish administrations are the best proof of the freedoms and liberties in compare to their lives under successive Iraqi governments.
Now, the Kurds are reasonably seeking a voluntary union with the rest of Iraq. They are demanding democracy for Iraq and a federal system based on ethnicity and geography where Iraqi Kurdistan could be kept together as a federated territory within a united federated democratic Iraq, all the hell breaks out, many are voicing objections to the Kurdish demands. Let’s not forget that these countries and organizations are the same who turned their back on the Kurds, if not sided with Saddam when he gassed the Kurds. Utterly, the Kurds are unable to allow another division of Kurdistan, if they give in for the so-called administrative federalism.
Collin Powell argued Tuesday, that he supports the Kurds’ efforts to preserve their “ historical identity”, and the official U.S. stance is that Iraq must be kept integrated and the matter is an Iraqi affair. They are the ones who will ultimately decide their future and the type of union they desire. The American administrator Paul Bremer after meeting with both Kurdish leaders Mr. Massoud Barzani of the KDP and Jalal Talabani of PUK, have sought to delay the determination of Kurdistan fate to later stages of bargaining. The Kurds realize that time is not on their side; therefore their demand ought to be recognized when the power transition occurs. United States owes it to the Kurds that they will not be sold out; it would be a grave mistake for United States and the coalition to abandon the Kurds again.
The U.S. position wholly correspond the Kurdish stance except for the timetable. At the same time, the same position could be interpreted as a warning to regional governments not to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs. United States needs to put more pressure on Turkey to stay out of Iraqi affairs.
The Kurds have fought for 80 years against Arabization and to be recognized and their rights granted. Most of the Iraqi governing Council members have already endorsed the principle of federalism in conferences that were held in Europe and Kurdistan. This was when Iraqi Kurdistan was the only liberated land from dictator Saddam armies, and they needed to use it as a sanctuary. Today, they see themselves all-powerful sitting in Baghdad oblivious to their previous promises and commitments.
In spite of the repeated U.S. forewarning to Turkey before, during and after the war on Saddam, not to make any alliances in the region that do not accord with the U.S. interests, Turkey paid no attention to that, and finally decided to get closer to Syria hoping to irritate and exert pressure on U.S. and perhaps to revive the glory of the old days when they all conspired to crack down on the Kurdish aspirations. Once again the dark clouds of evil are gathering to hold back the realization of the Kurdish dream to live free from oppression and ethnic cleansing. The civilized world has moral responsibility not to let that happen again. This is a historical window of opportunity for the world community to take advantage of by contributing actively in resolving the Kurdish dilemma justly.
The new scheme became apparent Monday during the visit of Syria’s President Bashar al- Asad to Turkey. Both countries have issued joint statements condemning the Kurdish justifiable demands; committing themselves to stand against “any moves that could damage the territorial integrity of Iraq” realizing fully that Kurds are not seeking to partition Iraq or establishing an independent Kurdistan.
In the face of these insurmountable challenges, the Kurdish leadership needs all the support it can master at home from every Kurdish patriot, and abroad from our fiends and allies.
This is the moment of history in making. This is the critical juncture, where the Kurds have to seize and don’t let pass by making the right decision. It is imperative that the Kurdish leadership faces this challenge united by persisting on their demands. Once again the time is not on the Kurdish side. It is very crucial for the Kurds to use all their resources in support of their demands. If anything, the Kurds’ bitter previous experiences have taught them how to be prudent and dependable; to rely on themselves while benefiting from the support and sympathy of their friends to achieve their objectives.

The Kurdish Perspective of "Axes of Evil"

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2004 12:54 am
by Eamad Mazouri
The Kurdish Perspective of "Axes of Evil"

Eamad Mazouri

Since U.S. led coalition has declared a timetable for transfering power to the Iraqis, the Kurds afraid to be neglected and abandoned as before, are seeking assurances that their rights would be guaranteed in a federal democratic Iraq. As a result, many Iraqis and the regional governments, especially Turkey are voicing objection to Kurdish demand of a federal Iraq where Kurdistani identity is protected and preserved.
For years the governments of Turkey, Iran Syria and Iraq oblivious to their own differences,have cooperated and coordinated to crash any Kurdish attempt to gain any rights. The war on Saddam and the presence of the coalition forces in the region was an opportunity for the kurds that these governments would stay out of Iraqi affairs,consequently leave the Kurds be. When Turkey tried earlier to court Syria it was quickly rebuffed by U.S.
Obviously, the scenario is changing now. Once again these countries( the axes of evil, from Kurdish perspective) are getting together for the same purpose under the nose of the coalition and the international community who are turning their back on the destitute Kurds. As if the perpetuation of the state of the victimization of the kurds is essental to keep Middle East in balance.
Ironically, Iran and Syria are on the list of the states that support terrorism, while Turkey is a NATO member and supposedly a close U.S. ally.
The Kurds, after all their sufferings and sacrifices don't deserve to be left left alone. They are in dire need of protection and support.

Nechirvan Barzani Calls for A Voluntary Union

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2004 10:03 am
by Eamad Mazouri
Nechirvan Barzani Calls for A Voluntary Union

Eamad Mazouri

In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government while insisting on Kurdish rights, called for the necessity of replacing the current nature of the involuntary union that binds the Kurds to Iraqi state by one that is based on a voluntary union.
At the same time, he was resolute about the Kirkuk issue as historically a Kurdistani town, whereas the oil revenues could be shared and handled like the rest of the oil resources in the country as long as the Kurds would get their fair share. He further said that eventually the people of the city would choose their administration within Kurdistan territory, after allowing the forcibly deported people under previous regime, to return to their homes that they were evicted from.
Once again he pointed out the wrong approach some of the regional governments are taking regarding the Kurdish gains in Iraqi Kurdistan and called for resorting to better options that are available, more peaceful and beneficial to all parties concerned. These options are based on good neighborly relationships and economic partnership for the benefit of all the people of the region.
In the context of the voluntary union concept that Mr. Nechirvan Barzani is calling for, I would like to shed some light on the background of the involuntary union that has been forced upon the Kurds since 1926.
Before the annexation of the predominantly Kurdish Mosul wilayet to the newly established state of Iraq, the League of Nations decided to send a fact finding mission to the region led by a Swede. Represented in this delegation were, British, Turks, Iraqis and internationals. But no Kurdish representation was present.
As they were touring the region, there were heated debates between the Turks and the British. Finally, the decision reached based on those findings was in favor of the British who had already gained the mandate on Iraq. So, there were 5 years between the establishment of Iraqi state in 1921 and the annexation of Mosul in 1926.
The Kurds were not consulted in this crucial decision about their fate. The solution was imposed on them against their will without them having any saying in it.
When the new Turkish republic rose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of WWI, it rejected Sevres Treaty signed in 1920 that provided for a homeland for the Kurds, the allies agreed to replace it with Lusanne Treaty that ignored the Kurds’ rights.
When King Faysal The First was brought to rule over Iraq following the rejection he received from the Syrians, Kurds resisted the takeover of their land. This rejection manifested itself in a wide uprising in major Kurdish urban regions. The British had to use the Royal Air Force to crash the Kurdish rebellion in Sulemani city, thus securing the Kurdish submission.
Ever since, various Iraqi governments have treated the Kurds very badly. They have been deprived of their basic human rights and considered second and third class citizens.
The Kurds, on their part have resisted this oppression by various means, mostly in armed struggle for almost 80 years against successive Iraqi governments in Baghdad. The Kurdish rebellions of the 30s and 40s, the 1961 revolution, the accomplishment of 1970 agreement, the 1976 revolution that supplemented the previous one following the collapse of 1975 as a direct result for the 1975 agreement between the late Shah of Iran and former dictator Saddam who made major concessions to the Shah regarding Iraqi sovereignty on land and water, and the 1990 popular uprising that led to the mass immigration of the Kurds, and ultimately led to the intervention of the international community and the set-up of the safe haven.
These events combined allowed the Kurds, who were enjoying aerial protection enforced by U.S. and Britain, to hold free elections under the auspices of the international monitors who praised them as democratic and fair. The Kurdistani parliament was elected and a regional government was established with all the democratic institutions that paved the way for the Kurdistani minorities to enjoy their rights for the first time in their history. In contrast to the unsubstantiated claims of their adversaries, the Kurds proved to the whole world their capability to run their own affairs when given a chance. The Kurds took advantage of the opportunity that was presented and built something new to be a role model for the whole Iraq.
However, the issue at hand is the Kurds were coerced against their free will into an involuntary union with the state of Iraq that was never blessed by the Kurds. They resisted this by all the means available to them in order to be recognized and their legitimate rights granted.
Iraqi people were unaware of this history. The Iraqi governments made sure they don’t know all the facts behind the establishment of Iraq. Therefore, they were fed various fabricated stories, such as the Kurds were no more than a few tribes who immigrated southward into their Iraq, this by the admission of Mr. Talib al-Shebibi the first Baath foreign minister after the coup of 1963 in his memoirs.
In 1992, the Kurdistani National Assembly passed a resolution that set forth the framework for the resolution of the Kurdish problem in Iraq. That is a federal structure where Iraqi Kurdistan is recognized and its territorial borders are outlined. Most of the Iraqi organizations have already agreed to it in various conferences that were held prior to the removal of Saddam.
The Kurds have gone out of their way to assure all the parties concerned that they are not seeking the partition of the country and an independent Kurdish state, but to replace the current unjust union with a voluntary one. They shouldn’t be denied that.
Turkey on the other hand, should come to terms with the fact that Kurds have every justification to gain certain rights to guarantee and preserve their unique national identity without which they cannot trust Baghdad. The Kurdish repression was not an isolated case but rather a systematic approach held and promoted by successive Iraqi governments. Therefore, the Kurds cannot go back on what they have gained over years of struggle and all the sacrifices they have made. The Kurds have suffered too much to be able to take any chances of facing another national disaster. There is too much pressure on the Kurdish leadership to ask for much more what is asking for. United States is in the best position to play the role of the mediator and to dispel the Turkish fears. There are many options out there to be explored and cultivated to find common grounds for all those who are involved in this equation.

Today was A Day of Mourning for The Kurds in Iraq

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2004 10:03 am
by Eamad Mazouri
Today, two unidentified terrorist suicid bombers blew up themselves at the same time, at the headquarters of both main Kurdish political parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), in the regional capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil.
The cowardly terrorist attack killed at least 56 people and injured over 200, among the dead some top KDP officials.
It is obvious, the objective of the attack was to destabilize Iraqi Kurdistan, which unlike center and south of Iraq has been commended for its security and stability since 1991, as well as the the Kurdish gains and achievements.
This daibolic act of terror has only stregthened the Kurds' resolve and united them to face these challenges.
For more details, please read this article.
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/mid ... ory=486951

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 11:12 pm
by pinar
I agree with Kurdish self-rule, this is their prerogative as a nation as old as they are. Only the Kurds know what is best for their people and judging by past injustices against the Kurds by the Bath party, their call for self-rule within Iraq is justified. However do not forget that Northern Iraq is a multi-ethnic fruit cake, like Bosnia and like my own country Cyprus.

The oil-rich City of Kirkuk for instance is a city mostly populated by the Turkmens, and Turkmens are not Turks, they speak a language closer to Azeri and many Turkmen are Alewites or Shia. Similarly Sunni Muslim Arabs and Assyrians (and other Nestorian Christians) also reside in this region, in fact outnumbering the Kurds in certain towns and cities.

Complete Kurdish rule over this area is based on an assumption that this territory is ALL Kurdish. This is simply not the case, and were we to adopt this attitude, it is bound to cause countless problems, as neither of the aforementioned ethnic groups consider themselves Kurds or are content to be ruled by them within an Iraqi State. The "majority rule theory" would no doubt benefit the Kurds as it would for the Greek-Cypriots in Cyprus or for the Muslims of Lebanon, but the truth is it is simply not acceptable for members of other ethnic groups who may be culturally, religiously and linguistically different to the Kurds and who may constitute nations within their own right.

If Iraq is to have a federal system based on ethnicity, then all ethnic groups should have the opportunity to participate in governance and have their own degree of self-rule within the sovereign state of Iraq.