Today in Gdansk, Poland, we had a very interesting meeting with incredible persons. The meeting took place at one of our universities – Higher School of Banking (Wyzsza Szkola Bankowa WSB). The aim of meeting was to discuss very popular topic nowadays
“Kurdish chances for independent country”.
There was a lot of useful information and I hope You can manage to read it all even though that’s a lot !
There were four main speakers. First of all, there was Mr Ziyad Raoof, for whose speech I have been waiting the most, Representative of Kurdistan Region Government. He could easily be officially called an Ambassador if only Kurdistan were independent state, but let me call him Ambassador. There was also a great Professor (prof. dr hab.) Mr Hassan Ali Jamsheer as an expert of Iraqi history. The last two guests: dr hab. Pawel Czubik, who is a specialist of international law and anthropologist dr Mariusz Kairski.
Well, as u know from my previous articles about Kurdish history, after 2nd World War the Kurdish country was established as the Republic of Mahabad in Iran with help of Soviet Union, which occupied these areas. Unfortunately it lasted only 11 months because Soviet Union signed an agreement with Iran and had to withdraw its army and support for the Kurds. Kurdish President Muhammad Qazi was hanged.
The main reason why other countries don’t like the idea of united Kurdistan is of course money. Kurdistan is a very rich area, full of oil which is the biggest problem. According to some organisations, in 2018/19 oil production in Iraqi Kurdistan will reach 2 000 000 000 barrels per day ! Kurdish oil stocks are more or less same as in Libya.
Kurdish neighborhood is the next problem. How have Iraq, Iran, Syria etc. been created ? These are not natural countries.These are post-colonial products. Really bad products. Their borders were created with a finger on a map. Nobody cared about ethnic differences. The only goal was to evenly divide Ottoman Empire between France and Great Britain to let both countries have same influence in the region and to get same benefits.
Present Kurdistan Region, which is federated region in Iraq, went through ratification of new federal Iraqi Constitution in 2005 where it is written that Kurdistan’s institutions exercise legislative and executive authority in many areas, including allocating the Regional budget, police and security, education and health policies, natural resource management and infrastructural development. The problem began with new Iraqi Prime Minister. He totally did not respect new Constitution. He militarized the country and took most of the Parliament power. On 24 August 2006 he banned television channels from broadcasting images of bloodshed. Even though Kurds paid a lot of money to Iraqi central budget, Prime Minister drastically reduced the expenditure for the Kurdistan Region. Officials and army did not get their salaries and even more, soldiers did not get any armament. Nouri al-Maliki went even further. He really wanted to win the 3rd election so he came up with a plan. He wanted to show people that there is the terrorist threat in Iraq, so he thought they will choose him again. He let the ISIS to occupy almost 35% of the country! Yes, he let. I don’t really think he even tried to fight them, and when he lost control, he called Kurds to fight ISIS.
ISIS, that is the next interesting topic. During our meeting we tried to discuss which direction Kurdistan will aim. First option was a mixture of religion and politics, which we can see in Saudi Arabia. Second option is a democratic country. In this point, I think that all of You will agree that the Kurds have already chosen a long time ago. Democratic country. And this is very interesting how is it possible that a democratic country can function pretty well in this area? Most of the people claim that countries in Middle East are not able to be ruled by same rules as European countries. Well Kurdistan is a great example that this is possible over there, in Kurdistan, with Kurdish people, whose we often don’t appreciate enough. And then we have ISIS, same area, but how different ideology. I think that we can easily compare ISIS with medieval Crusaders, who killed people just because they were not Christians.
There were some doubts about religiosity of Kurdistan so I would like to remind once again.
This region is full of Muslims, both Sunni and Shia Islam, different brands of Christianity, Yazidis etc. They all live together in the same cities and villages. Have you ever heard about religious war there? No. Why?
Because this is the most peaceful place. Those people have been living with each other for ages. Mr Ziyad said that when he was a little kid he used to have Christian teachers and his parents did not see any problem in it. They used to take parts in Christian holidays in their teachers houses and also those teachers used to come to Mr Ziyad house to celebrate Muslim holidays.
During the meeting, Madame dr Maria Giedz, brought up a great example.
There is a village where live 5 000 residents. In this village are located around 4 or 5 different churches – Yazidi, Muslim, Jewish, Assyrian and Chaldean.
More over, even though the village contains 5 000 of residents, there are also located around 40 000 of Yazidis. All live peacefully.
Even Saddam’s closest bodyguards were Christians (Yazidis or Assyrians). He even said ” they are the only people that will not shot me in my back”.
Also Islam in Kurdistan is not the same Islam you hear in media about. No fanaticism. Why is that ? As Mr Ambassador said, each Kurd has in the back of his head one thought, that all their problems started in VII century when Arabs came to their lands to convert each person to Islam.
Mr Ziyad told us one more story about his family. His grandfather, father of his mother, was a Kurdish “priest”. His daughter never worn a hijab or burqa. She even wore dresses with length just to knees and her father never ever said anything about it. That is how tolerate Kurdish people are.
Kurdistan can be described as an island in the Middle East when everything is different than in closest countries. Everything is just better and in my opinion, similar to the western world. Even in the whole Iraq, before the Iranian Revolution in 1979, nobody was asked if he is Shia or Sunni. People lived in harmony. Just after this revolution, when Iran was transformed to an Islamic Republic, Iranians started to spread their ideology of new country to the other areas.
It can be even said that Kurdistan is a home for many refugees, mostly Christians – Assyrians and Yazidis. It really is. Right now, there are over 2 000 000 refugees in Kurdistan ! Would they run away to unstable country? For sure not. Kurdistan is the only one stable area in the region. The other one is Lebanon but it has a problem of Hezbollah in the South.
I would like now to look at Kurdish case from the International Law point of view.
First of all, the Kurds are a nation. This is indisputable. Each nation has the right to self-determination and to respect its territory by others. As dr hab. Pawel Czubik said, the right to self-determination is one of the variables right and can be applied only to colonial states, so Kurds should not base on this right. More important is the principle of territorial integrity, which says that nation-states should not apply any changes in other nation-states borders. This is the permanent rule.
Secession of Kurdistan is possible only if it will be made through conditions of federal country. As we all know Iraq is a federation. Kurdistan is one of the federal region, so everything is on a good road. Kurdistan can be independent at any time it decides, but of course the Kurds wait for the best moment, when the situation around will be more stable, and before that the referendum must be prepared.
It is not a question IF Kurdistan will be independent but WHEN it will be independent.
First of all, Kurdistan fight for to be recognized by other countries. Mr Czubik claims that Kurdistan can not afford to be not recognized. It needs to have good economic and political relations with other states. A great example for country which does not care about recognition, was brought up by Mr Czubik. Taiwan. Everyone wants to trade with Taiwan and make business with it, so it is really not important if it is not fully recognized. One more example is Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There is no country like that on the map, but Turkey recognizes it, and I think only Turkey does. It sends a lot of money to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and that is the main reason of recognition. Kurdistan unfortunately does not have any rich, huge friend-state.
The only chance fro Kurdistan is similar scenario to Soviet Union. This was federal country and secession was made according to federal country conditions. Let’s look at Chechnya. It was not a federal country and secession was not successful.
What about Syrian Kurdistan Rojava?
Well, all would be more easy if only Rojava would be legal. It definitely can not join Kurdistan Region, because Rojava is not legal. Mr Czubik said, that the most reasonable solution would be to replace Syrian Law with Kurdistan Region Law and turn Rojava into something similar to federal region. Then there is bigger chance it will be legally accepted and could join Kurdistan Region. Of course some states can call it in question but even thought there will be negative thoughts, Kurdistan will exist. Same situation we had with Crimea. Russia just took Crimea. Some states called it in question but Russia still exists, country did not disappear. And now, after some months, does anybody call in question this annexation ?
The last case is Turkish Kurdistan and even more Turkish relations with Kurdistan region.
Everyone knows how bad actions have been taken against Kurds in Turkey, but even our guests admitted that this has changed a bit. Why during last 20 years Turkey has changed so much ?
According to our speakers it is mostly because of finances. Actually, in 2012, trade between Turkey and Kurdistan Region reached about 10 000 000 000 $. It is a lot. And it means a lot for Turkey. Even more, oil pipeline was build from Kurdistan through Turkey to Europe.
Some years ago it was forbidden to speak Kurdish in Turkey. Not long ago, Turkish Prime Minister came to Kurdistan and he made a piece of his speech in Kurdish ! That was unbelievable.
The Kurds will never say “I am Yazidi, I am Muslim, I am …”. They just simply say: