The Kurds and their Desires in Iraqi Karkuk!
The Russian journalist, Lina Sobonina, had raised two important issues in a recent interview conducted with the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, which was also published in an Arabic Newspaper (Azzaman Newspaper – November 14, 2001). Many of the past’s secretive issues, in addition to the solution or complication of the Kurdish problem, are connected to these two issues. Due to the importance of these two matters, we will stop at them, in hopes of clarifying them to serve the truth. While we do sympathize with the Kurds and their causes, as long as they are humanistic and legitimate.
1 - The Claim of Federalism and State:
Mr. Masoud Barzani, who is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, declares through his response to the question of the Russian journalist regarding the Kurds’ claim of Federalism and their hopes in creating their state on the land of Iraq as follows: “It is true that the wish of all Kurds is the creation of an independent state officially and democratically, but the international and regional circumstances, do not permit the raising of the slogan of ‘The Independent State’ and we must be realistic and raise slogans that are potentially achievable.”
It shows through this declaration that was made by Mr. Masoud Barzani, in which he expressed the opinion of a wide section of the Kurds, as if the non-Kurd Iraqi is the occupier of the Kurds’ land, and that the Kurds have resided in North Iraq since time immemorial! Thus, Barzani clarifies for us that the wish of all the Kurds is to create the Kurdish State. We add, but on the lands of others!
This picture, which reveals that the descendents of Babylon and Ashur (the true Iraqis) occupy the lands of others, is very far from the truth and very unrealistic. The existence of Kurds in Iraq does not necessarily mean that they have the right to take a part of it. Otherwise then, it would be also rightful for the Turks in Germany to create a Turkish State there because there are more than 5 million Turks in Germany due to migration. In other words, the number of Turks in Germany is more than that of Kurds in Iraq. There is also the Moroccan community in France and there are many other examples in different areas of the world. It is obvious these days that the Kurds obtaining political and self-governing autonomy in Iraq no longer satisfies their goals. Hence, they have first declared a clear goal, which was ‘The True Self-Governing for the Kurds’, but now this goal has advanced to ‘Federalism,’ while Mr. Barzani has shown “a clear flexibility” through his postponement of the plan of ‘The Kurdish State,’ because the regional and international circumstances do not permit the achievement of this plan. Also, a short while ago, Mr. Barzani had openly declared before his staff, the following: “Federalism is a natural right for the Kurdish people, which cannot be abandoned and they (the Kurds) have not demanded an independent state, not because this is not their right, but because they know the current international circumstances, and they are not proceeding in taking any steps that may not be in the interest of the Kurds.”
2 - Karkuk: Kurdish or Iraqi?
The Russian journalist asked: “It is known that the important points of disagreement between the Kurds and the central government of Baghdad, is focused around the area of Karkuk, isn’t it better for you to be flexible and to let go of this city in order to achieve your goals quickly?”
The response of Mr. Barzani was clear: “A flexibility such as the one that was mentioned in the question is impossible, because Karkuk’s land is Kurdish with its people and history, but it is possible that we can agree with the government of Baghdad about the technical measures.”
This response by Barzani contains a great deal of belittlement and arrogance towards the history and the people of Iraq. Rather, it has a distortion of the history of the entire region in a way that does not call for optimism at all. It also contains a tone of radicalism similar to that talked about by the Arabists. The world’s museums and all of the history books and resources, undoubtedly prove that Karkuk, Mosul, Arbil, ...etc. are all Iraqi Mesopotamian cities, to which the Kurds have come to them in the recent times from the Zagros Mountains, which are bordering Iraq. These newcomers had also carried out many vicious campaigns of Kurdification against the local indigenous inhabitants of these cities with an Ottoman support and at times Persian. Thus, the Assyrian, Arab and Yezidi Iraqis had been displaced towards the Center and South of Iraq or to the outside of Iraq. With the beginnings of the 19th century, the Kurds had gradually been successful in changing the ethnical and linguistic map of Northern Iraq to their benefit and to change its historical name ‘Jazira’ to ‘Kurdistan’. The historians remind us of the vicious campaigns of Kurdification, for example: A Kurdish Prince, Muhammad Pasha who is known as the Prince “Kor” had seized, in the year of 1832 AD, the villages of Assyria and plundered the village of Hattara (in the region of Shikhan) and he killed of Elqosh, a Chaldean village in North Iraq, a hundred and seventy-two men not counting the women and children. Then he caused havoc in the villages of the Shikhan through killings and raids, and then killed Ali Beg, the Prince of the Yezidis. They also killed 200 men, many priests and deacons in Beth Zabday, an Assyrian region currently in Turkey, which has been Kurdified. And in Esfes, they killed 80 men, a dignitary, a priest and they captured the women and children in early October of 1834. Additionally, they inflicted many catastrophes on the Yezidis in the East of Mosul and killed many of them.
After those incidents and painful persecutions, appeared the well-known Kurdish Prince Bedr Khan Beg in 1840 AD, who is considered as the Iraqi researcher Hirmis Aboona says ‘the first tyrant of modern times.’ Many of the historical resources talk about his horrific actions, which make it unnecessary for us to discuss his oppressions against the Iraqis and also against the Syrians.
As for the conflict over the city of Karkuk, then there is a great disregard to a very important point that it is an Iraqi Mesopotamian city according to history and archaeology, and the existence of Kurds or Turkomens or ..etc in the city despite their sheer size and numbers, does not change its history or Iraqiness. It is worth mentioning that the city of Karkuk today has Turkomen characteristics with concentrations of Arabs, Assyrians and Kurds. Here, we would like to ask Mr. Barzani, why has he not accepted the suggestions, which ask for the creation of a self-governing autonomy for the Turkomens or even creating a Turkomen state in Karkuk? The raising of such a question to our Kurdish brothers in North Iraq makes them displeased and nervous as soon as they hear it!
It appears that the Kurdish case has begun to give the aroma of the Iraqi oil (petrol). Noting that, the majority of the Kurds’ requests in Iraq after WWI, were revolving around the Kurds getting a self-governing autonomy and the right to self-determination in the region of Suleimaniya only. The Sheikh Mahmoud, whom we would like to consider as the president of ‘Kurdistan’ in 1922, had considered Suleimaniya as his capital. Hence, I believe that perhaps designating the title of ‘Province of Kurdistan’ on the area of Suleimaniya and its nearby areas only, as a solution. Maybe the taking of such a step will partake in the differentiation and the separation between the Iraqi Mesopotamian lands, in which the Kurds reside such as Arbil, Zakho, Karkuk, ..etc. and the Kurdish area which was known previously as “Shahrazor – Suleimaniya” and which was considered part of the Kurdish areas in Persia. With this suggestion, it is possible to distinguish between the current ‘Expanding Plan of Kurdistan,’ which suppresses the rights of other peoples and offends their feelings, and the dissolved legitimate rights of the Kurds, similarly to the other Iraqi groups. It is truly sad that the black gold [Oil-Petrol] in the city of Karkuk stands as a barrier opposing peace and love. It was the previous Kurdish leader, the Mullah Mustapha Barzani whom had contributed in the creation of a temporary Kurdish State in Iraq, “The Republic of Mahabad 1946.” He was the first who had expressed the Kurds’ desires in the Iraqi oil of Karkuk through his slogan, which he continued to repeat: “Kurdistan with the Oil!!” Through this point, we would like to mention that the failures of many negotiations that took place between the Iraqi Kurds and the government of Baghdad were due to the dispute over the map of Kurdistan and the aspirations of the Kurds in expanding the self-governing autonomy to include the Iraqi city of Karkuk, ‘the Jerusalem of the Kurds.’ Because the Kurdish leaders know very well that declaring a Kurdish State in the future in North Iraq before Kurdifying Karkuk (and also the Province of Nineweh) is considered a useless declaration. This is where the flexibility of Barzani comes from when he is saying: “The Regional and International circumstances do not permit the raising of the slogan of the Independent State.”