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Kurdish statelessness and Mideast instability

Posted 12/22/19

The Kurds are the descendants of the ancient Medes spoken of in the Bible and were, in fact, the original Persians — 612 BC is considered their year 1 — who finally under their first leader, …

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Kurdish statelessness and Mideast instability

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The Kurds are the descendants of the ancient Medes spoken of in the Bible and were, in fact, the original Persians — 612 BC is considered their year 1 — who finally under their first leader, Cyrus the Great, created the third-largest empire in world history in 539 BC.

Their original entry into the Iranian plateau started around 1,500 BC from the Trans-Caucus region. They have always inhabited the mountainous region of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, via various kingdoms through the centuries. Some reference to the Kurds in the Bible include Isaiah 13:17 and Jeremiah 51:11.

In 1519, Kurdistan became incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, where it maintained some sovereignty for three centuries but eventually unsuccessfully fought wars to throw off Turkish domination. At the end of World War I, a Kurdish delegation appealed to the councils at Versailles for the establishment of a Kurdistan, but Britain instead lobbied for the Kurds to be incorporated into Iraq in order to gain control of oil fields near Erbil.

Kurdistan was erased from world maps after World War I, when the victorious powers carved up the Middle East, leaving the Kurds without a homeland. Today the Kurds, who live on land that straddles the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, are by far the largest ethnic group — 36 million — in the world without a state.

On Sept. 29, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States did not recognize the decision of the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum. “The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.”

The Kurds lack a well-defined boundary — by international standards — and broach the lands of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. All these neighboring countries have had a contentious relationship with the Kurdish people. The Kurds have different languages, different religious traditions and different cultures. And much like the Jewish people and the Palestinians, they seek an independent homeland in which they have the right to self-determination.

Due to the difficult political and military situation in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East, the Kurds have yet to successfully create their own nation with recognized borders. And it would not be an easy task; while the Kurds of the different countries in this region all collectively refer to themselves as “Kurds,” there are many differences among these groups. Admitting that the Kurds deserve an independent state also means a loss in territory for Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq which these countries heavily rely on for economic and strategic military reasons.

Cyrus Shamloo

Wilson

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