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The Kurds [Hot Topic?]

Iraq History-world Kurds

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#1 Anna

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 06:11 PM

Okay, this is one part of the Middle East picture that I don't understand at all. The Kurds. I know that they've been gassed by Saddam's regime and Turkey regularly goes after their Kurdish population.

Why? What is the historical, political, whatever significance of this population? Why does everyone in the region seems to hate them?

All you historians and stuff help me out here...

Anna

PS- I'm giving this a cautionary "Hot Topic" label, because I don't know where it's going.
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#2 MuseZack

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 06:50 PM

The Kurds are probably the world's biggest "nation without a state."  They had the really bad luck to have their homeland split among four different states when the Ottoman Empire was dismembered-- Turkey got a bunch, Iraq did too, Iran got some, and Syria got a few.  Unfortunately for the Kurds, while most of them share the Muslim religion with their neighbors, they're ethnically and linguistically distinct from their Turkish, Arab, and Persian neighbors.  

And so, as each of these new post-Ottoman nations went through the messy, painful process of state formation in the 1920s, they were faced with what to do with their large Kurdish minorities.  They mostly opted for forced assimilation, accompanied by purges, pogroms, and repression of Kurdish language and culture.

The Kurds also got used a lot as pawns when these new states went to war with each other.  One of the reason Hussein repressed the Kurds so ferociously in the 1980s is because the Iranians were funnelling them money and weaponry to help in their independence movement.  And each time these states make peace with each other, they cut off support for the Kurds, making them once again screwed.  

So, long story short-- the Kurds have been thoroughly hosed by history, border drawing, and living in a really rough neighborhood dominated by three peoples (Turks, Arabs, Persians) who don't play well with others, at least within their own territorial borders.

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#3 Enmar

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 07:17 PM

I believe it is one of those situations that everybody knows how they’ll end (autonomy/independence) but the only question is how much blood will be shed until we get to this point. The Kurds are in worse condition than other people because they are split between 4 countries that have complicated relations among themselves and the west. The west usually supports some of them against others, and so constantly has a varying alley that doesn’t want the Kurds to gain any type of independence. Right now, actually, they are in the best position ever: The Iraqi new government will probably obey US, at least on the short run, Syria is doing a remarkable job of making themselves the next target, Iran… already had some US missiles fired at it :p

The US promised the Turks the war will not lead to Kurd independence, but IIRC the Turks didn’t keep their side of the bargain.

IMO, if Bush and Blair will have the courage to go for it, they will prove that they really mean to change the world. And that move will also twist Ariel Sharon’s arm and might end in a new order in the Middle East.

Wishful thinking :(
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#4 Anna

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 07:34 PM

Thanks, Zack and Enmar. I knew a little, but Zack, as usual, you've summed up nicely.

Enmar touched on this, but what will it take to "settle" the Kurdish situation? Is it carving out a homeland in a tough neighborhood? And even if that happens, will it be another Jewish state where every neighbor hates them and will be a constant war?

And the question no one will be able to answer, why do human beings hate so much and do such cruel things to each other? Rhetorical, but I wish there was a solution to that... :(

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#5 Cardie

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:46 PM

Sometimes I despair and think that relatively small clan-tribal social organizations are about the most that human beings can instinctively tolerate. Empires and dictatorships suppress tribal rivalries, and nation-states that don't draw their boundaries along ethnic lines frequently collapse into internecine chaos. Only the comfort of ample resources for all offers even a hope of truly peaceful multi-cultural societies. (That's why I find the US to be a pretty big miracle, despite all our problems.)

On my good days, though, I believe in the Federation.  ;)

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#6 Kevin Street

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:55 PM

The way I see it, all the religious, political and ethnic differences just get in the way of our natural human desire to band together. Some kind of true world government is inevitable, although I have no idea when it will happen. (Dunno if they'll call it the Federation, tho. ;) )

The Kurds will get their nation eventually, too. In the end, all the peoples that want to get together always do, given time. Maybe this war will give them a chance.

But is that a good thing? Surely it would create more fighting in the region.
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#7 Rhea

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 12:59 AM

I'm more than a little distressed by the fact that we were perfectly willing to let the Kurds fight and die in this war, we are also perfectly willing to turn our backs on them at the whim of the Turks.

The Kurds always seem to end up getting the shaft.  :pout:
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#8 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 01:57 AM

Quote

Cardie: On my good days, though, I believe in the Federation.  ;)

Star Trek Federation?  Please say the robust free wheeling capitalist Federation of TOS.  Rather than the socialist corrupt militarily dominated result of what that Federation later became.  Yes I don't like the Federation later on. ;)

Quote

Rhea: I'm more than a little distressed by the fact that we were perfectly willing to let the Kurds fight and die in this war, we are also perfectly willing to turn our backs on them at the whim of the Turks.

I doubt we sill see that happening this time.  The Turks are probably on some very high up bad lists considering the fiasco they put us through over deploying 4 ID.  I fully expect as soon as things settle down their noses are going to get rubbed in it just enough to communicate don’t do that again.
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#9 Rhea

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:27 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Apr 10 2003, 03:46 PM, said:

Quote

Cardie: On my good days, though, I believe in the Federation.  ;)

Star Trek Federation?  Please say the robust free wheeling capitalist Federation of TOS.  Rather than the socialist corrupt militarily dominated result of what that Federation later became.  Yes I don't like the Federation later on. ;)

Quote

Rhea: I'm more than a little distressed by the fact that we were perfectly willing to let the Kurds fight and die in this war, we are also perfectly willing to turn our backs on them at the whim of the Turks.

I doubt we sill see that happening this time.  The Turks are probably on some very high up bad lists considering the fiasco they put us through over deploying 4 ID.  I fully expect as soon as things settle down their noses are going to get rubbed in it just enough to communicate don’t do that again.
Except that we've already publicly promised the Turks that we will kick the Kurds out of Kirkuk, which a)they helped us take and b)has a large Kurd population.

Assuming I'm understanding correctly, this is part of pacifying the Turks so as to keep them out of Northern Iraq.  But who the hell gave the Turks the right to dictate what goes on in Iraq?

Edited by Rhea, 11 April 2003 - 02:31 AM.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#10 G-man

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:34 AM

^^ The fact that the Turks are Iraq's neighbors and have an army massed on the border, that the US doesn't want coming in.

/s/

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#11 Ro-Astarte

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:40 AM

Just to mention, the "official" Kurd line is that they consider themselves Iraqis and just want to be part of a government inclusive of all the different groups in Iraq.

They may be laying it on a bit thick, but today they were letting captured Iraqi soldiers go, saying they were fighting Saddam, not their fellow Iraqis.  Once he was gone, they didn't see any reason for these guys not to just go home. :)

Turkey's nervous because they don't want to encourage the Kurds in their own country to think independence is attainable.  If they really want that, they need to start considering Kurdish concerns in their own government.

Revolutionary as that concept is.

Ro

#12 Cardie

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:46 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Apr 10 2003, 06:46 PM, said:

Star Trek Federation?  Please say the robust free wheeling capitalist Federation of TOS.
But of course! Diametrically opposed as our real world politics appear to be, I found the Feds of TNG and Voyager the most sanctimonious set of self-righteous prigs I ever encountered. And I like buying stuff too much ever to desire the end of capitalism. :)

That's why DS9 was so fun, because it was always teasing the Federation's high-minded opinion of itself. I wonder if Picard knows about Section 31.

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#13 MuseZack

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:51 AM

Ro-Astarte, on Apr 10 2003, 11:29 PM, said:

Just to mention, the "official" Kurd line is that they consider themselves Iraqis and just want to be part of a government inclusive of all the different groups in Iraq.

They may be laying it on a bit thick, but today they were letting captured Iraqi soldiers go, saying they were fighting Saddam, not their fellow Iraqis.  Once he was gone, they didn't see any reason for these guys not to just go home. :)

Turkey's nervous because they don't want to encourage the Kurds in their own country to think independence is attainable.  If they really want that, they need to start considering Kurdish concerns in their own government.

Revolutionary as that concept is.

Ro
Bingo.  Turkey's a wonderful country in some ways, but in others it's like the European states in the 17th and 18th centuries during state formation-- they're so into the notion of a Turkish national identity that they don't tolerate cultural minorities within their own borders very well.  The Kurds, the Armenians, the Anatolian Greeks-- all have suffered in one way or another.  It's kind of analogous to how the French treated the Bretons, the Spaniards treated the Basques, the English treated the Welsh and Scots, and so forth.  Repressing the minorities within your own borders seems to be the dark underside of establishing a national identity.

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#14 Anna

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 02:55 AM

It's the whole Turkey issue that has me bothered. And what prompted me to ask the questions I did about the Kurds. I just couldn't figure out how a population could be so hated by everyone.

I was deployed to Turkey some years back with my Reserve unit. After the Gulf War, under the Provide Comfort II deployments (more recently called Northern Watch). I'm not sure what's classified any more and what's not (I'll be retired from the Reserves for 4 years this summer), so I'll not go into any details. But Turkey disturbs me when it comes to the Kurds. And I agree with the idea of not having Turkey in northern Iraq. I'd rather they stayed on their side of the border and deal with their own Kurds.

I hadn't heard that the Kurds in Iraq feel that they are Iraqis. If that's the case, I do agree that they should be given a seat at the table when the new Iraqi government is formed.

Anna
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#15 Norville

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 04:45 AM

Quote

Just to mention, the "official" Kurd line is that they consider themselves Iraqis and just want to be part of a government inclusive of all the different groups in Iraq.

On the other hand, when I heard interviews going on with some of them prior to this war, when they were asked if they considered themselves Iraqis or Kurds, they said definitely Kurds.

Quote

Diametrically opposed as our real world politics appear to be, I found the Feds of TNG and Voyager the most sanctimonious set of self-righteous prigs I ever encountered.

While I've always found TOS to be a bit silly, I prefer that version of the Federation. While I enjoyed TNG while it was on, I shake my head at how (oh, I hate this useless term) "politically correct" and self-righteous the Federation had become. "Oh, we're ever so superior and evolved" was the attitude. Good grief.
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#16 StarDust

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 05:19 AM

Ro-Astarte, on Apr 10 2003, 06:29 PM, said:

Just to mention, the "official" Kurd line is that they consider themselves Iraqis and just want to be part of a government inclusive of all the different groups in Iraq.
Most of the Iraqi Kurds, and their leaders, have made it clear they consider themselves Iraqis. Why not? Why are they any less Iraqi than a Sunni or a Shiite.

One of the problems though, is assuming everyone thinks the same way. I always find it funny when people get on tv say "Arabs" this and "Arabs" that. Do we really believe that all Arabs think the same way, that Egyptians don't have different priorities than Jordanians, than Saudi's? Do we really believe that all Jordanians think alike? And here in the US, we've gotten to a point where ethnic origin has nothing to do with nationality. Why not else where?

I'm sure many of the Kurds considered themselves Iraqis before Saddam made it clear they weren't. Just like German Jews before the late 1930s considered themselves Germans, until non-jewish Germans informed them they weren't :( Given the removal of Saddam, and assurances that they will be properly represented in the government, and a democracy where they are free to live the life they want, the majority will probably be perfectly happy to stay Iraqi. They have a much better chance of living life their way in such an environment than trying to create a new country.

After all, a Kurdish country won't solve much. It'll just create a place based on culture where those that aren't that culture will be second class citizens. Reversing who's on top doesn't solve the problem, it just shifts it. And eventually, if it's to be a thriving country, it will end up having plenty of people who are different.  Just look at England, what exactly does English mean these days? Is it the 'bloodline' or is it citizens of England, who come from a diverse bloodline?

Just being Kurdish doesn't mean that Turkey Kurds and Iraqi Kurds want the same thing.

And some Kurds will want something different. Just like some people want to split California into two states :lol:

Edited by StarDust, 11 April 2003 - 05:20 AM.




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