Kurdistan – it’s time.

OK – it’s been a long march but after hundreds of years of struggle there’s a shining light at the end of the tunnel:

1) The good guys have taken over Syrian Kurdistan.. (Economist)

2) The Iraqi Kurds have finally got some firepower..(Wiki)

3) The Iranian Kurdish resistance is vibrant (Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan)

4) Turkey’s hypocrisy really can’t last. (Hurriyet Daily News)

These guys never give up…

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dewi, the report states “Syria’s Kurds are less geographically concentrated than their Iraqi brethren” in other wards even in the far NE do they even form a majority? Interestingly Wikipedia says the majority of Syrian Kurds actually came from Turkey, during it great ethnic cleansings on the 1920’s I presume, it is interesting that 90 years of settlement seems to be enough to split of a part of a country from the rest!

  • Mister_Joe

    “Modern” nation states were invented around the mid 1400’s and it’s been downhill all of the way since. The tribes who slaughtered their way to the top are very reluctant to give up their privileges.

  • Dewi

    I repeat – its time for this nation to be recognised.

  • Mister_Joe

    Before anyone jumps all over me, I meant the concept was invented then. In recent times, who drew the boundaries of “modern” states in Africa? Did that have anything to do with the many civil wars there after the “major” powers were forced to withdraw? Why did the USSR collapse? Why did Yugoslavia fail? Why is there such terrible murder going on in Syria? etc.

  • Dewi

    Not jumping Joe – just about time for Kurdistan to emerge.

  • Mister_Joe


    I had some interesting discussions with the doctor who saved my life a few months ago in Istanbul. He is a Muslim, having been raised as a Catholic, tried Judaism, then Buddhism, before settling on Islamism as best for him. He pointed out to me that all groups are a mixture of both religion and tradition. Therefore, there is Saudi Islam, Iraqi Islam, Indonesian Islam, Palestinian Islam etc. All a bit or more different. Are the Kurdish peoples a homogeneous group?

  • Pete Baker

    “Kurdistan – it’s time.”

    According to whom, Dewi?

    Apart from the reluctance of the existing ‘democratic’ structures…

    “These guys never give up…”

    And where have we heard that before?

    Dissidents, one and all.

  • Dewi

    “Are the Kurdish peoples a homogeneous group?”

    Quite fascinating religious diversity – including Yazidi

    “According to whom, Dewi?”
    “Dissidents, one and all.”
    With a fair bit to dissent about,

  • Greenflag

    ‘According to whom’

    The Kurds themselves . The 30 million Kurds are the largest ethnic group without their own state on the planet . More than half live in Turkey with the rest in Iraq,Iran and Syria .These latter three States are as we have seen in the past decade inherently unstable .Why would any Kurd not want their own State ? The reason the Kurds never made it to Statehood has to do more with western imperial intervention in the region than anything else and the failure to uphold international treaties following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire post WWI.

    Can an independent Kurdistan come into existence ? If ‘democracy ‘ was anything more than just a meaningless shibboleth utterance tossed out by western powers whenever it suits their particular agendas -the Kurds would long since have been independent .

    If Kosovo and Moldova why not Kurdistan ?


  • The 30 million Kurds are the largest ethnic group without their own state on the planet

    No, that would be the Han chinese who like the rest of us have to share their states with other ethnic groups. Yes, that’s states plural – there are at least three Han-majority states (PRC, Taiwan and Singapore), none of which is ethnically homogeneous, and that’s before we get to Han minorities, which I dare say exist in every single state in the world. There is no state that belongs entirely to one ethnic group, and there is no ethnic group that belongs entirely to one state. Such a boilerplate disclaimer should be restated at the top of any discussion on nationalism.

    On the other hand, the right of the people to self-determination means that if a group of people that lives in a given area wishes to declare independence from their current state, we have a moral obligation to facilitate the process wherever practicable. And this is where it gets complicated, because of a little flotilla of caveats.

    1. What is “a group of people”? How do we define who is in that group and who is out?
    2. What is a “given area”? Who gives the area?
    3. How does the group make decisions?

    The original sin of nationalism is to answer the above questions using circular logic. And then there is the elephant in the room:

    4. “Wherever practicable”.

    At one extreme we have an entire landmass (e.g. an island, or a continent!) which is taken as the “natural” unit of government that it is “impractical” to split. At the other extreme of balkanisation, states are based entirely on personal identity and individual subscription, a Sierpinski carpet of finite area and near-infinite edge.

    In order to meet the territorial requirements of a functioning state, we must compromise the absolute principle of self-determination and compel minority populations to conform. How much compulsion is necessary and which particular minorities should be compelled? And what do we do when they refuse? That’s when the shooting starts.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    OK Dewi – I’m sold on the the issue of national self determination for the Kurds. In theory.

    Now what are the practical implications of making this happen across several jurisdictions in a region which is currently a self combusting tinderbox?

    What can the Kurds do practically?

    Would moves towards self determination lead to the absolute cementing of an alawite-shia bloc through syria, Iraq and Iran? How would that impact on the internal poltics of these fractious and not so democratic nations? Would Turkey back peddle on opposition to Assad?

    Maybe better for the Kurds to hang fire a bit? Are there divisions anyway amongst their national movements?

    Sometimes national self interest equals looking after a peoples security and livelihood first and making bold moves towards self determination later.

  • Dewi

    Practically (sadly..) the big difference these days is a Kurdish army in Iraqi Kurdistan – with a fair bit of oil dosh.
    An autonoumous Syrian Kurdistan would be another piece.

  • Framer

    I thought enthusiasts for the EU were keen to minimise nation state nationalism and take the political emphasis away from disputed frontiers.
    It was the Germans dropping their claim to Alsace-Lorraine that enabled the Common Market in the first place.
    But it seems many want ever more states carved out of pre-existing sovereigns or their borders re-arranged e.g. John Hume who argued the EU would bring us together, while uniquely and unremarked among top European politicians insisting on the frontier between two member states being changed.
    Maybe that was the iron law of the Irish exception.
    However be warned, creating a Kurd Republic will involve the mightiest of wars.

  • Greenflag

    @ Andrew Gallagher ,

    ”that would be the Han chinese who like the rest of us have to share their states with other ethnic groups.’

    They don’t have to . The Tibetans for instance were quite willing to let the Han Chinese NOT govern Tibet but the Han refused .
    The Palestinians want their own State but the Israelis refuse them .

    The Sudanese refused the South Sudanese . The British refused the Irish . The French refused the Vietnamese. The Spanish refused the South Americans and again the British refused the USA .The Soviets refused the Poles . Czechs , Hungarians etc etc etc .

    In all of the above ‘practicability ‘ and ‘morality ‘ did’nt matter a damn in the end . It was like it or not the ‘gun’ that won independence for these wannabee ‘States’ . There might have been a smidgin or two of sympathy among the population of the ruling imperial power to give nation x or y or z it’s freedom , home rule , or autonomy but in the final analysis none of the above paragraph examples would have won their independence without the gun bar the latter Soviet example and in that case violent rebellions and uprisings against Soviet rule had always been quashed from above until the time arrived when the Soviet Union itself imploded from within .

    So the answers to your questions 1,2, 3,4 can be summed up by a quick look back at the history and as you put itself at that point in time ‘when the shooting starts’

    I don’t disagree with the overall tone or content of your above comment at 22 Aug 1.37 pm – it’s just that so often in these cases I would’nt depend on ‘morality ‘ coming to the rescue for those nations under the heel of tyrants -domestic or foreign !

  • GF,

    When I said “share their state” I meant the physical territory of course. You are correct that there is no requirement to share government.

    I’m not so naive to think that morality comes to the rescue. But the law should, and in the case of national self-determination we have no law, just a set of self-contradictory principles that all sides cherry-pick to their own advantage.

  • Dewi

    “However be warned, creating a Kurd Republic will involve the mightiest of wars.”

    Yep – but the Kurds are pretty good at fighting…..

  • When it comes to untangling the ethnic souffle that is the northern middle east, it makes the former Yugoslavia look like a paragon of simplicity:


  • Dewi

    Thanks Andrew – strangely on language it ain’t that complex – have a look at Spain…..

  • Mister_Joe


    What makes you think that the Iraqui Kurds, for example, would want to share a state with the others? They could easily have carved out a state for themselves from the rubble of Bush’s misadventure but didn’t do so. They seem perfectly happy with their degree of autonomy and are willing to share their oil wealth with other Iraquis. I think they have played it smart; a separate state would have had the other Kurds clamouring for unity and would probably involve them in ugly wars.

  • Dewi

    cos they love a fight. always have.

  • Mister_Joe

    I would imagine that fighting and always losing would get a bit wearying after a while.

  • Dewi

    This time they might win.

  • The main problem with Kurdistan (all four of them) is defining a border and having it accepted (or at least defended). I’m tempted to say it will be like partitioning Ireland, but it will almost certainly be much, much bloodier. It’s one thing to turn a blind eye to territory being carved out at gunpoint in Baathist Iraq, and quite another to contemplate the same happening in Turkey – which is despite its faults a functioning democracy.

    I did once ask a secular Turkish acquaintance something along the lines of “is holding on to Kurdistan really worth it?” and her reply was “what will happen to the minorities left on the wrong side?”. To her, the most important thing was the republican system and its protections. Would an independent Kurdistan defend women’s rights, for example? The precedents aren’t good on that front.

    Being a federalist myself, I wonder if a federal Turkey might be the answer. But proper federalism would mean imposing a new government structure upon parts of Turkey where there is no appetite for change – just like a proper federal UK would mean dividing England. It may not be acceptable to either side.

  • aquifer

    What is the position of the Kurds on daughter killings?

  • carl marks

    while I wholeheartedly agree and support the right of the Kurds to self determination, and their right to obtain it in whatever why they see fit (providing that whatever actions taken remain within the rules of behaviour set internationally for these matters), I do have some concerns
    As other posters have asked are the Kurds still one “nation” indeed where they ever one “Nation” do we not have several tribes separated for many years, each terribly treated by the states they were located in.
    Is one Kurdish state the answer, perhaps three might be better linked by a EU like arrangement for the Handling of trade and sharing of infrastructure and defence, maybe Switzerland and it canton system might be a better example.
    Also Dew I Hope that your repeated claim that “they love to fight” only applies to the fight for self determination, because to be honest although I have had sympathy with the Kurds for a long time I would be concerned that in the volatile atmosphere that exists in that region, the last thing we would want would a new country with a army that loves to Fight.

  • carl marks

    aquifer (profile)
    23 August 2012 at 7:59 am

    What is the position of the Kurds on daughter killings?

    I’m sorry maybe I’m missing something, but could you elaborate on what your question has to do with Kurdish Independence!

  • Greenflag

    @ mister joe ,

    ‘I would imagine that fighting and always losing would get a bit wearying after a while.’

    Not at all Joe after the first 500 years you get used to it and then you just keep at it until you eventually nearly win but lose just enough to keep going for another few centuries 😉

    think Ireland mister joe

    It’s not over till its over and then when its all over the whole bloody crap starts again somewhere else 🙁

    As to the concept of one Kurdish State ?

    Probably the best solution .I disagree with the Frenchman who said that he like Germany so much that he always wanted to see more than Germanies ;)?

  • Greenflag

    oops last line error above should read

    ‘more than two Germany’s

    Most of us would settle for just one being enough 😉

  • Mister_Joe


    I’m sure he meant one Germany being split into many smaller states.

  • lamhdearg2

    leaving the Syrian kurds to their own devices (for now) is a clever move on Assad’s part, I would not see it leading to a greater kurdistan.

  • Greenflag

    @ mister joe

    ‘I’m sure he meant one Germany being split into many smaller states.

    Indeed which was the status quo more or less before Napoleon dragged the minor German States into the 19th century with his reforms and his emancipation of European Jews lest we forget .And then Bismarck ‘finished the job 70 years later with the First German Empire and we know the rest .

  • Mister_Joe

    And Bismarck said that the solution of the Irish question lay in having the Irish to swap countries with the Dutch. He added that the Dutch would make Ireland the most beautiful island in the world while the Irish would neglect to mend the dykes left to them by the Dutch and therefore would be drowned.

  • Mister_Joe

    Syrian army has now abandoned a large part of the Kurdish area, probably the majority of the area. The Syrian Kurds say that if they try to return, they can expect a major fight.

  • Dewi
  • lamhdearg2

    BBC News – Turkey blast ‘kills seven’ in Tunceli