Historically, the Kurds have been dealt a cruel hand. In a region littered with tribal-based entities, Kurds are the only people deprived of a “separate” country of their own. The question, however, is: must they have a separate country? Can their aspirations not be fulfilled within the countries — Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria — where they currently reside? If ethnicity were the basis of statehood, there would be endless chaos in the region, indeed throughout the world.
On September 25, the Kurds in northern Iraq held a referendum for independence over the strong objections of many countries. The only country that supported their bid was Zionist Israel. The US, while tacitly supporting their bid, did not do so publicly. Using the referendum result as the basis, Masoud Barzani, the self-styled leader of the Kurds, offered to negotiate with the Iraqi government. This offer was rebuffed. Baghdad refused to negotiate with a gun held to its head.
Instead, with the help of its allies, especially Iran, Iraqi forces gave an ultimatum to the Kurdish forces to vacate the oil-rich province of Kirkuk or face the consequences. When Barzani refused, Iraqi and allied forces moved in and drove the Kurds out of the city and province within a few hours. Was Barzani’s brinkmanship necessary? He blamed the rival Kurdish faction, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) for the debacle (Barzani heads the Kurdish Democratic Party – KDP) by not putting up a fight. The referendum decision, however, was Barzani’s since he is the de facto ruler as president of the Provisional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Barzani may have overplayed his hand and sealed his fate. He read too much into US and Zionist support. Unfortunately, for decades the Barzani clan has maintained close links with both, whom the overwhelming majority of Muslims view as their enemies.
The countries in which the Kurds reside must, however, address the legitimate grievances of the Kurds. One relates to their language; the other is respect for their culture and distinctive dress. Creating a separate entity, even if the Kurds constitute 30 million people, is not a solution to this problem. Besides, the Kurds are divided along tribal and clan lines. There are further divisions based on the country they reside in. Even in Iraqi Kurdistan, these divisions are apparent in the divergent outlooks of the KDP and the PUK.
On their part, the Kurds must ask themselves whether they are living up to the legacy of such of their great historical forebears as Nur al-Din Zengi and Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. Muslims worldwide hold them in great esteem for what they achieved. The Kurds must remember that Salah al-Din fought against the Crusaders, who had occupied Palestine, and liberated it from their clutches. How can the Kurds today align themselves with the modern-day Crusaders represented by the Zionists and their imperialist backers?
Of all the people in the world, the Kurds are one of two ethnic groups — the other being Afghans — that are synonymous with being Muslim. No Kurd or Afghan adhere to any other religion. For the Kurds now to work for the breakup of Muslim countries is a great betrayal of their Islamic heritage. They must carefully consider their future moves and not fall into a trap laid by the enemies of Islam.