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The Indispensability of Internationalizing the Kurdish Issue

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The upcoming Iraqi and Kurdistani elections are one more window of opportunity that the Kurds cannot afford to lose. What they need is a full and aggressive partaking in the overall election process to send their elected officials to Baghdad and to make sure that the new Iraqi constitution would follow the same trail of the TAL and finally Kurdistan is recognized as a single federal territory within a democratic federated Iraq.



Date: 6 November 2004

By Eamad Mazouri

The foremost colossal barrier in the Kurds' struggle for freedom- aside from many other hurdles of course - is the fact that it has always been portrayed by their various opponents as an internal issue within the borders of the states that divide Kurdish land. Their adversaries have constantly succeeded in keeping the Kurdish question inside their borders notwithstanding the repeated desolate Kurdish attempts to break through that wall and internationalize their just cause. Naturally, this has been going on despite the fact that the Kurdish fight is representing a major divided nation of the Middle East whose history has been a long odyssey of oppression, suffering and sacrifices.

History tells us that occasionally their plight was on the verge of reaching international podiums except it was soon marginalized and subsequently pushed back within various states' borders to be forgotten once again at least for awhile.

In fact, the 1920 Severs Treaty nearly succeeded in accomplishing the Kurdish dream of statehood. This particular accord which ought to be cherished by the Kurds, in section III, articles 62, 63, 64 for the first time in Kurds' modern history provided for a homeland for the Kurdish nation on his ancestral land. Therefore it should be considered as a historic juncture in the Kurds' struggle for world-wide recognition. While it was negated after 3 years, it remains the first single international document issued by the highest international body-The League of Nation- to recognize the Kurdish nation and provide for an independent Kurdistan following the dismantlement of the defeated Ottoman Empire in the WWI. This could have materialized if it wasn't for the rise of the new Turkish Republic under Kemal Attaturk who rejected Sevres Treaty. This refusal led to the signing of a new treaty called Lausanne in 1923. The latter Treaty revoked the first one and replaced it after the allies secured their territorial ambitions of course. Although it focuses in many areas on the rights of the non-Moslem minorities and occasionally it does refer to the all inhabitants of Turkey, unfortunately the new agreement ignored the Kurdish demands. However, even those limited and basic Kurdish rights were denied by the new Turkish Republic and the Kurdish population was robbed from their very national identity, their language and culture.

In another memorable instance where Kurds were nearing to accomplish this national mission is their efforts to secure potential gains during the Mosul Wilayet dispute between Great Britain and Turkey. In accordance to the report that was presented to the League of Nation on 17 July 1925, it was decided that Mosul would be annexed to the newly established Iraq under the British mandate subject to safeguards and preserve the character of the Kurdish areas in such matters as administrative personnel, education and language.

Once again, the Kurdish rights were emphasized in the 1926 and 1930 agreement between Britain and Iraq. These rights all over again were introverted and the Kurds were subjected to assimilation especially in the 1960s. These documents once more remain important credentials to the just cause of the Kurdish people and their constant attempts to gain legitimacy in the international arena. Even today and based on some of these elements the Kurds are legally able to call on the international community and smaller international entities to help out in ensuring that the above mentioned governments are not violating the articles of these agreements that carry the signatures of the United States government and major powers in Europe.

Following Kuwait war, and in response to the famous call from then the President of the United States of America Mr. George H. Bush, to the Iraqi people to rise against tyranny, the Kurds led an unprecedented popular uprising and took over most of the major Kurdish cities including the oil rich Kirkuk. Nevertheless, Saddam was kept in power, and succeeded in mobilizing most of his troops in Kurdistan while allowed to employ his choppers to crash the Kurdish uprising as well as the Shiia one in the South of Iraq. Consequently, this led to one of the most horrible human tragedies of the century, when TV screens around the world started broadcasting ghastly images of millions of Kurds evacuating their entire cities on the run from being possibly attacked by WMD by Saddam's regime, under harsh weather condition towards Turkish and Iranian borders seeking refuge. Finally, this tragic debacle led the UN Security Council to adopt SCR 688 on April 6, 1991, condemning the Iraqi regime’s brutal suppression of its people in general and of the Kurds in particular, and compelling Iraq to hold negotiations with the Kurds in order to ensure their political and human rights. Consequently, the “Safe Haven” was established for the Kurds, an area which covers approximately 54% of the region and contains 3.6 of the total 6 million of the population of Iraqi Kurdistan. Even then the international forces were very quick to withdraw from Kurdistan to Turkey in order not to internationalize the Kurdish issue, perhaps under pressure from Turkey and other regional powers.

Regardless, this specific UN Security Council Resolution while controversial in its nature, in essence, it was a historic precedent that laid down new foundations in the international law where the international community for the first time was allowed to intervene on behest of the destitute people against their repressive regimes- where it used to be considered an internal affair before - and provided protection for people like Kurds who until then were kept savagely oppressed inside. Once more, the Kurds triumphed on their adversaries.

It was anticipating for the Kurds to become a major player in the post-Saddam era following the collapse of the regime and the dismemberment of the army and various security apparatus at a time when Kurds had the most organized military force inside Iraq embodied in the battle experienced Peshmarga forces.

As a result, they were able to secure certain rights and eventually succeeded in passing the Iraqi Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) on March 1, 2004, which gave the Kurds the right to veto .This was another giant victory for the Kurds who have fought for so long and sacrificed so much on the road of freedom and liberty. Regrettably, their joy did not last when in 8 June 2004 the Security Council passed the resolution 1546 that ignored to mention TAL, omitting any chances for the Kurds to internationalize their hard earned achievements within Iraqi Kurdistan. It is worth mentioning that Iraqi Shiia was the main obstacle and stood adamant not have any reference to TAL in the UN SCR.

The Kurds were left very disappointed at their best allies on the ground inside Iraq and the whole international community for not standing by the their legitimate rights in spite of the positive role the Kurds have played in the war effort to remove Saddam from power. Thus, the Kurds like many times before lost a unique opportunity to have their rights endorsed by UN as the highest international body since Sevres Treaty.

No doubt that the Kurds have a long journey ahead of them and unsurmontable challenges to overcome in order to win the world sympathy for their just cause and to secure their legitimate rights peacefully to the ultimate end of internationalizing their cause and presenting it on the international podiums for a homeland of their own to be able to live freely on their own land and prosper. This fact should only prompt them to work smarter politically and diplomatically, to use all the resources at their disposal to achieve that holy end.

The upcoming Iraqi and Kurdistani elections are one more window of opportunity that the Kurds cannot afford to lose. What they need is a full and aggressive partaking in the overall election process to send their elected officials to Baghdad and to make sure that the new Iraqi constitution would follow the same trail of the TAL and finally Kurdistan is recognized as a single federal territory within a democratic federated Iraq.

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Created by keza
Last modified 2005-01-04 05:52 AM

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