Rumination: Why doesn’t the struggle for a Kurdish State get the same attention in the world media as the struggle for a Palestinian State?
The Kurds, like the Palestinians and the Hebrews, are an ancient indigenous peoples of the Greater Arabian peninsula. Their world population of about 30 million exceeds the Palestinian world population (8.2 million) and the Hebrew world population (14 million). Their ancestral homeland encompasses portions of Eastern Turkey (15.4 million), Northern Syria (1.8 million), Northern Iraq (6.8 million), and Western Iran (4.4 million). The Kurds and the Palestinians, are predominantly Sunni muslims while the Hebrews are Jews of course, but there are also about 200,000 Kurdish Jews and 1.2 million Palestinians living in Israel.
The Kurds have suffered many of the same experiences as the Palestinians and the Hebrews: they lived for centuries under Ottoman annexation, have been subjected to forced deportations, ethnic cleansing, resettlement of foreigners into their lands, and other forms of cultural extirpation. There have been several attempts to create Kurdish states such as the Republic of Ararat or the Republic of Mahabad. Their liberation movement, the PKK, is considered a terrorist organization by major world bodies. As of this moment the Kurds don’t have an independent and sovereign country to call their own.
So, why is not Kurdistan ‘still the issue’ in this part of the world? Why is not the plight of the Kurds considered a ‘big problem’ in the Muslim world? Why don’t we have major civil rights advocates around the world organizing and amplifying the cause of the Kurds? Why is it that Israel, with its population of 7.6 million, and relatively small geographical footprint, is the constant focus of self-righteous rancor over the treatment of Palestinians, while the larger, more populated states of Turkey, Iran and Syria are overlooked with respect to their own occupations of Kurdish lands (in Iraq, the Kurds have gained certain autonomy since the deposition of Hussein)? Isn’t the Kurdish situation a larger injustice from the point of view of the amount of territory and number of people involved? Could it be that changing the subject to Israel and the Palestinians is just so easy while looking under one’s own carpet is just so hard?
I posit that there are two main issues preventing peace in the Greater Arabian Peninsula, the plights to the Kurds and the Palestinians. Both of these need to be resolved either by means of the creation of separate and independent states or other forms of self-rule. For the Kurds, one possible future would be to carve out an independent Kurdistan from the areas of Northern Syria and Northern Iraq. For the Palestinians, we already have the incipient State of Palestine (West Bank/Gaza). These territories may not encompass the full range of ancestral territory but at least they would be sovereign and independent homelands for the global Kurdish and Palestinian diaspora (much the same way as Israel is the diminutive homeland for a global Hebrew diaspora). True these would be fairly small states, but Singapore today has a population of 5.3 million people and Hong Kong, 7.15 million; from what I hear they are both doing quite well. The alternative would be for the existing occupying states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Syria to create a form of federalist system within their respective countries providing the Kurds and Palestinians sufficient autonomy. After that, the goal should be to make the entire Greater Arabian Peninsula a nuclear free zone (both arms and power plants). Then perhaps the well-being of the people of this part of the world could be improved.