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Iraqi President Talabani: Kurdish Independence Is a Dream in a Poem - By Rauf Naqishbendi

The Iraqi President and the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Mr. Talabani, recently told Turkey's Hurriyet daily:  “I tell my Turkish brothers not to fear that Kurds will declare independence. It is an advantage for Kurds to stay within the borders of Iraq in terms of their economic, cultural, social and political interests".  In addition, regarding Kurdish statehood, he told the same source, “[it is] just a dream in poems.”

Iraqi Kurds engaged in an armed revolution with an aim to attaining their statehood. Given geopolitical circumstances and a lack of competent leadership, they compromised for an autonomous Kurdistan region within democratically federated Iraq. But Iraq will never be democratic and therefore, for as long as Kurds remain within Iraq, they have to fear the recurrence of their past national tragedy at the hands of Arabs.  Kurds have every reason to reject a merger with Arabs under the Iraqi flag. Contrary to Mr. Talabani’s statement to the Turkish newspaper, such an action would put the Kurds at a disadvantage. Mr. Talabani must realize that he himself has not genuinely been a part of the Kurdish struggle. Instead he has been a politician pursuing his political career.  Mr. Talabani, a leader of the Kurdish national liberation who does not believe in the dreams and aspirations of his people, has been an obstacle in the way of Kurdish freedom from
occupation. While securing all his own personal interests, and none for his people, he now refuses to acknowledge his failure to lead.  Instead he is embarking upon an insolent campaign against the dreams and aspirations of his people by openly proclaiming his disbelief in an independent Kurdistan. What a shame! What a betrayal!

For centuries Arabs have been committing atrocities against Kurds, from torture and brutality to genocide. Yet Mr. Talabani tells the world it's an advantage for Kurds to stay within Iraq. Surely Mr. Talabani doesn’t represent the Kurdish ideal for statehood. During decades of Talabani and Barzani rule, Kurds have gained nothing.  Their situation has gone from bad to worse. What little economic progress has been made in recent years is all credited to the American occupation of Iraq, and none to the Kurdish leaders. Under these two Kurdish leaders, half of Kurdistan still remains annexed, the Kurdish population has been dislodged and the most economically viable regions in Kurdistan - Kirkuk and Mosel – have been  demographically altered and their future will be decided by Arab Iraqis and not by Kurds. The Kurdish leaders have abandoned their moral and national responsibilities.
Kurds have never willingly accepted nor even desired to merge as a nation with Arabs.  The experiences of Anfal and Halabja live in our collective memories and in our history.  They prompt us to reject any merger with Arabs and for that matter with any of the occupying nations of Kurdistan. We never asked to merge as a nation with Arabs.  It has been imposed upon us. An independent Kurdistan is not just a dream in a poem, as Talabani mischaracterized it.  Rather it is a dream deeply rooted in our minds, our cultures, and even the names of our children.

For Kurds to remain within Iraq, as wished for by Talabani, implies that Kurds are willing to remain subordinated to Iraqi Arabs.  The Arab attempt to force Kurdistan to remain  a part of Iraq, is not due to any Arab admiration for Kurds.  The whole point is to rob Kurds of their natural resources, including oil and a fertile landscape. To this end, Arabs don’t mind reaping the benefits of their union with Kurds even while they refuse to accept Kurds as their equals.

The issue of an autonomous Kurdistan region within Iraq is a fallacy. Even now Kurds are willing to accept federalism, but Arabs want the federalism on their own terms. This means excluding most of the viable areas, including Kirkuk and Mosel, from any autonomous Kurdistan region.  One cannot draw any other conclusion than that the solution to the Kurdish question is an independent Kurdistan. The problem is that Arabs are not willing, under normal circumstances, to grant Kurds autonomy. The only reason they are willing to accept the idea of autonomy as mentioned above in their own terms, is that they have been pressured by current circumstances. When that pressure abates, Arabs will quickly revoke all their promises and abrogate what was their signatory contract.

An autonomous Kurdistan is predicated on an Arab willingness to coexist peacefully with Kurds, with the terms of this union to be documented and signed by both sides. But in the past Kurds have signed many contracts and heard many promises. Those contracts have been ignored and promises were never delivered.  Kurds remained without any national recognition and with their destiny in limbo. To be sure, that was the past.  But there is no reason to believe the current Iraqi Arab leaders are any different from past Arab leaders, who cheated, lied and betrayed Kurds.

We the Kurds realize our security, and the integrity of our land cannot be warranted without our sovereignty. Therefore, as ideal as a merge with Arabs  might seem to others, we believe an independent Kurdistan is our God given right.  For now, it is a dream; but the reality is just a matter of time. We hold as our ideal that the sacrifices we are willing to render in achieving independent statehood is self evident and that we as a nation will arrive at our destined promised land, a free Kurdistan. When that happens, Mr. Talabani may stay in Iraq serving his Arab brothers as he does now. Or he may wish to retire and get busy writing his memoirs, telling us how he did so much for himself, his family, and his cronies and nothing for Kurds.

Rauf Naqishbendi's memoirs entitled "The
Garden Of The Poets", recently published. You
may order The Garden Of The Poets (unedited)


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