STATE DEPARTMENT MATH
by Gerald A. Honigman
Over thirty million Kurds remain stateless today, often at someone else's mercy. At a time when much of the world insists that there be a 22nd or 23rd Arab state, there is a nauseating silence over the plight of this people.
Spread out over a region which encompasses parts of southeastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other adjoining areas as well, these modern day descendants of ancient Medes and Hurrians continue to find themselves in very precarious circumstances.
Kurdish culture and language has periodically been "outlawed" in attempts to Arabize or Turkify them, and in an age when other dormant nations/national groups were able to seize the moment with the collapse of empires, the Kurds were repeatedly denied this chance by an assortment of so-called "friends" and foes alike.
Having been promised independence after World War I, the Kurds soon saw their hopes dashed after the British received a favorable decision from the League of Nations on the Mosul Question in 1925. Predominantly Kurdish Mosul and Kirkuk were where much of the oil was located, and the main arm of British imperial power -- the navy -- had recently switched from coal to oil.
The Brits decided that their long term interests involved not angering the region's Arabs, who -- by their own writings -- declared that the rise of an independent Kurdistan would be seen as the equivalent of the birth of another Israel. Regardless of scores of millions of non-Arabs living in the region (including one half of Israel's Jews who were from "Arab"/Muslim lands), Arabs declared a political monopoly over what they regarded as "purely Arab patrimony." We are living with the consequences of this mindset today.
Much has been written about America's abuse of the Kurds, although the mainstream press, media, academia, and other supposedly "enlightened" folks have -- with some notable exceptions -- too often ignored this.
Having stood by our side and aided America continuously over the decades, the State Department has too often pulled the rug out from under the Kurds after their immediate "use" was deemed over...with deadly consequences to this people. And yet, they have remained strangely loyal to Washington.
While I won't rehash the disgraceful behavior of much earlier periods, recent and current policies are sufficient to make the point. And while I am focusing on America, the rest of the world -- for the most part -- has been as bad or worse. Since America has the power to greatly influence the course of geopolitics all around the world, my focus is thus on my own country.
America should always strive to be a shining light. I say this not out of naivete. America has the power and ability to do this as no other nation has. All it lacks is the will. And this is largely due to the click that runs the Department of State. On the Kurdish issue, it has assumed Britain's posture in the post-World War I era vis-à-vis the Kurds.
Foggy Bottom insists--after hundreds of thousands of Kurds have been maimed, gassed, and slaughtered in other ways by Arabs just in Iraq alone over the last several decades (Syrian Arabs have recently renewed their previous slaughter of Kurds as well) -- that Kurds will never gain independence. The heartland of Kurdistan had been in the region around oil-rich Kirkuk.
State insists that the Kurds remain part of a united Iraq...regardless of the bloody consequences this will probably have for them in the future yet again.
America's federalist dream, while looking good on paper, is largely rejected by the Arabs themselves, be they Shi'a or Sunni. The majority Shi'a, long suppressed by Saddam, now have other plans.
The Shi'a refuse to grant Kurds any control over their own fate...regardless of any alleged partial federal agreement achieved so far with America's continuous prodding. And Arabs, of any stripe, are still not about to grant Kurds any real equality. A visit to the Kurdish Media's website would be very useful to any and all needing "enlightenment" in these regards. An article posted by Dr. Hussein Tahiri's "The Iraqi Shi'ites: When An Oppressed Becomes Oppressor," posted March 8, 2004 in KurdishMedia.com is revealing, but there are many other good ones as well.
The same State Department -- which fought President Truman over America's recognition of a reborn Israel in 1948--insists that there be no partition of Mesopotamia/Iraq. Britain had earlier received the Mandate for Mesopotamia at the same time it received the Mandate for Palestine in the post-World War I era. But, unlike Palestine, which would undergo a number of partitions in attempts to arrive at a compromise solution between Arab and Jew, a much larger Mesopotamia was somehow declared to be incapable of doing this for its Kurds.
In 1922, Colonial Secretary Churchill chopped off roughly 80% of the original territory Britain received for the Mandate of Palestine on April 25, 1920, and handed it over to its Hashemite Arab allies. Purely Arab Transjordan -- today's Jordan -- was thus born. Arabs rejected another partition in 1947 which would have given them roughly half of the 20% of the land that was left. President Bush and State today insist that Arabs will get their 23rd state, and second one in "Palestine."
The main reason put forth for why Mesopotamia/Iraq is incapable of this sort of partition is the potential for instability it will cause in the region. Not only will the Arabs be miffed at someone else gaining national rights in "their" region, but the Turks, in particular, will supposedly have a fit due to their own large (and suppressed) Kurdish minority.
I support a strong Turco-American alliance...always have. But the Turks are wrong on this matter.
While it is understandable that they're nervous about the potential problems, this does not give them the right to have a veto power over the plight of some thirty million long-oppressed and abused people. An independent Kurdistan set up in northern Iraq -- under the right conditions -- might actually be a blessing for the Turks. Those Kurds -- like those Jews, Greeks, Armenians, etc. -- wishing to live in an independent state could migrate to it. An arrangement could also be made whereby the oil wealth of the area could be shared with the Turks as well, since they feel they got robbed via the earlier decision by the League of Nations on the Mosul Question.
Putting things into the broader perspective, consider the following sickening facts...
A visit to the CIA's Fact Book on the Internet shows Israel to have a population of roughly 6 million people, of whom about 20% are Arab. Among the latter are some very hostile elements. Israel's territory is about 20,770 sq Km.
Turkey has a population of about 68 million people, of whom about 20% are Kurds. Turkey's territory is about 780,580 sq Km. About 38 Israels would fit into Turkey.
Keeping the above in mind, Foggy Bottom has no problem demanding that Israel allow the creation of another Arab terrorist state, dedicated to its destruction, right in its backyard. State continues to ignore proclamations by even so-called Arab "moderates" that Oslo and all other such "peace initiatives" are but "Trojan Horses," steps along the way in the Arabs' post-'67 destruction in phases strategy for Israel.
Now, how will the fifth of miniscule Israel's population that is Arab react to this adjacent potential development? And how will the majority of Hashemite Jordan, which is also mostly Palestinian Arab (however you define that...many, if not most, Arabs had entered the Mandate from elsewhere in the region during the Mandatory Period), also react to this? Arafat's boys had already tried a takeover of Jordan in 1970. They were crushed in King Hussein's "Black September." And Israel's mobilization in the north sent a message to the PLO's Syrian allies at the time as well. Yet the Foggy Folks seem not to be worried about any destablizing effects here.
The same hypocrites who declare that Israel must grossly endanger itself so that a 23rd Arab state might be born insist that Kurds must remain forever stateless because of some problems their freedom might cause to a Turkey nearly forty times Israel's size in territory and over eleven times its size in population...and with the same 80% to 20% mix of potential "headaches."
There's no defense for this. An ex-State Department career person contacted me after one of my earlier articles. In our subsequent correspondence, he told me to just accept the fact that the Kurds will never be allowed their state...while attacking me, of course, for my reservations over what State has in store for Israel. He even brought up the subject of "dual loyalty." I asked him if he would say that to some 60 million or so -- if not more -- Christians who are saying the same thing that I am...No answer...Pathetic.
Regardless of America's good intentions (and we were correct in ridding the land of Adolf, I mean Saddam), it's likely that Iraq will become even more of a mess -- kind of like Yugoslavia with the death of Tito, though I really don't like mentioning him and Saddam in the same breath -- and more costly over time. Entrenched Arab attitudes -- centuries old -- are not likely to change regarding their relationships with their conquered, non-Arab populations. Any of the latter that have not agreed to the forced Arabization process -- be they Kurd, Jew, Berber, Black African, Copt, Lebanese, etc. have had major problems to contend with...often deadly ones.
Asking Kurds to forsake the creation of their one, sole state for the pipedream of an egalitarian Iraq is a travesty of justice if ever there existed one. When America leaves Iraq, as it will sooner or later, the backlash will once again fall on the people who supported us the most...the Kurds. We left them holding the bag too many times already before.
Think about how the course of history may have been changed if an Israel existed prior to the Holocaust.
You read about the problems with the Shi'a above. Saddam's regime was largely Sunni supported. Abu Musab Zarqawi, of al-Qaida fame, wrote a letter that was recently intercepted by U.S. forces in Iraq. He's the guy who is believed responsible for the recent slaughter of Shi'a in Baghdad and Karbala. In the letter he listed four enemies. America, of course, was No. 1... No. 2 is the Kurds. Here's what he says about them: They are "...a lump in the throat and a thorn whose time to be clipped has yet to come."
Now, while Foggy Bottom demands a 23rd state for Arabs and the good cop/bad cop team of Arafat and Hamas/Islamic Jihad, think about what direction you want the greatest country on Earth -- America -- to follow regarding the fate of our strangely loyal friends, the Kurds.
We can be better than what some in leadership roles would have us be.