The Kurds, a Courageous and Daring Nation

12/21/2016 4:36:00 PM
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Ramiar Bilbas
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The Kurds, who are widely considered to be the largest population without a state have today caught the attention of the world, in particular the West and political superpowers. Located in the Middle East and distributed by the former British and French colonial powers in the aftermath of World War One, the Kurds inhabit Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey – the four countries that Kurdistan was split up and given to. Fortunately, there exists an autonomous Kurdistan in Iraqi Kurdistan possessing its own government, parliament and president.

Stephan Mansfield, the New York Times bestselling author, mentioned in his TEDx speech – The Kurds, the most famous unknown people in the world – the fact that Winston Churchill and his two colleagues forgot this nation when they were demarcating the map in the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Thereby, the Kurds throughout the entire Twentieth century up until now have always fought and sacrificed in order to create a state for themselves, or at least the foundations of a state. Fortunately they are close to it now

Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689) who was a 17th-century French gem merchant and journeyman who traveled most of the world, including Kurdistan, said in his book that he understood the Kurds to be:  “naturally dreaming of freedom, and independence, a working and skilled nation, and they know how to coordinate their own business and choose what is right and wrong” (Shkur Mustafa, Kurd & Kurdistan).  However, the bravery of this nation does not end here. Taimur Lang (1336-1405) who was a Turco-Mongol conqueror and the founder of the Timurid Empire – a man who had no mercy and passion for anybody, and whom most people were scared of – also noticed the presence and prominence of the Kurds. In his book, Taimur Lang (Tamerlane), wrote that while he was in Iran, he got to meet a few persons whom he had never seen before and who he was unable to figure out where they were from. He further wrote that these people approached him and told him they were Kurds. He was surprised at the way they looked at him directly with no fear – which he considered unique as he was used to people fearing him, and in general people he encountered were often unable to look at him straight in the eye. Tamerlane, impressed by their daring and bravery, asked them to join his army – the Kurds refused to do so however, and accordingly delivered the message to this conqueror that they wanted to manage their own affairs rather than to be reigned over.

In 2014 with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in close proximity to the Kurdistan Region (Iraqi Kurdistan), the Kurds demonstrated their role in battling ISIS. ISIS, who had control over a large population in Iraq were continually fought by the Iraqi army but could not be defeated. Yet with the militant group’s approach towards the Kurdistan Region, ISIS was defeated in a matter of hours by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces with cooperation of U.S. airstrikes which successfully pushed back ISIS – an unprecedented achievement which caught the attention of major world press and global media outlets. Indeed, more recently, most of the U.S. presidential candidates referred to the Kurds with respect to their military strategies in fighting and eradicating ISIS. Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States has often referred to Kurdistan and commented that his military strategy in eradicating ISIS in Iraq and Syria would be with the cooperation and coordination of the Kurdish forces: “We should be arming the Kurds, they have proven to be the best fighters, they have to be the most loyal to us, and as far as I am concerned I did not know that nation had a large population” (Donald Trump, 2015).

Finally, the unity of the Kurds concerning the liberation of Kobane, a Kurdish populated city in Syrian Kurdistan, is another incident that has highlighted the Kurds prowess. This city two years ago was under the control of ISIS for over 130 days. John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State marked in one speech that liberating Kobane would be a hard task and that it required much time to roll ISIS back from the city. Noteworthy however is that Kurdish forces from throughout Kurdistan united in a successful effort to fight ISIS and kick them out of the city. Their success was unexpected by the international coalition against ISIS and the world.

I am not a nationalist, but as a Kurd, I feel it is important to write this. We are the only nation without a state after World War One despite all what we have achieved, not only in defending ourselves but now in defending the free world and fighting the most radical terrorist organization on behalf of the world.