In the Defense of the Late Mullah Mustafa Barzani
Kurdishaspect.com - By Habib Atarodi
Dear Kak Rauf Naqishbendi
I read your article entitled “Mustafa Barzani – The legacy of his leadership and his last meeting with the Shah of Iran“, published on 15 May 2009. I graduated form Tehran University in 1974, and in 1975 I was still living in Tehran , Iran . Like you and most other Kurds, I also followed the events concerning the fait of Kurdish revolution in Southern Kurdistan and its brave leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani, who had then taken refuge in Iran . I was extremely disappointed of the course of events and saddened by the failure of that revolution. But, unlike you, I did not put the blame on Mullah Mustafa. I always admired and respected the Man, and I always will. In my opinion, Mullah Mustafa Barzani, who may rest in peace, was a leader as great as any other leader of any other national liberation movement in world history. The only reason for his failure was the fact that he was a Kurd; and as we all know, God created the Kurds as orphans, much worse than the Jews. We have no friends in the world to give us a hand, and have as many enemies as God could give to any nation on this planet.
It is regrettable to hear someone like you who, I have no doubt, deeply care about the Kurds and their sad story, criticize such a great man. Mustafa Barzani devoted his entire life to the Kurdish cause. He was 3 years old when, along with his mother, he was thrown in prison. He was only 16 years old when in 1919 he participated in Sheikh Mahmoud Barzanji’s uprising against Britain . And later, he continued his struggle for freedom and fought against successive Iraqi governments up until 1975. He lived almost two decades of his life in exile in foreign lands away from his family and friends, while he could have lived in peace and comfort in his own homeland alongside his family and friends. He inspired the Kurds all over the region, including Eastern Kurdistan where you and I come from. I remember I was a teacher serving in a small Kurdish town in the late 1960’s. The fear of SAVAK (the damned Shah’s secret police) was everywhere. Yet, anytime my friends and I got together, we sang patriotic Kurdish songs and songs praising Mullah Mustafa Barzani; something similar to this (I am now too old to remember the entire song lyrics):
“Barzani Pishavaya (Barzani is our leader)
Khoshavisti Khodaya (He is God’s beloved)
La bar maafi Nishteman (For the sake of the homeland)
Naaya lava sar o gian” (He has set aside his own life)
It was very unfortunate that Mullah Mustafa could not continue his fight and did not achieve his goal of liberating his people. But, let’s not forget that after the Shah reached an agreement with Saddam Hussein in the OPEC conference in Algiers in 1975 and got what he wanted (namely access to the Shatt al-Arab waterway) on the back of the Kurdish Pesh Merga, Mullah Mustafa found himself facing not just one enemy, but two. As a part of that unholy agreement and the betrayal of the Kurds by both Iran and America , the Shah was obligated not only to cut off all the aids to Barzani, but also, in case of continued fighting, to join forces with Saddam Hussein to crush the Kurdish revolt. What could Barzani have done under such a circumstances, short of sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of his people? One of the characteristics of any good leader, as I am sure you will agree with me, is to know when to cut his loses and to save his remaining forces to fight in another day. Barzani was such a leader, and that was exactly what he did in 1975. You argue that at the time of his defeat, he had $150 million in his treasury that nobody knows what happened to it. I don’t know what happen to that money either, if in fact he had that amount of money. And maybe I am too naive. But, I refuse to believe that Mullah Mustafa was a corrupt leader and that, like the former Shah of Iran and many other corrupt dictators, he took the money and ran away with it. I simply cannot believe that.
I understand that, like me and many other Kurds, you are frustrated with the level of corruption and lack of real democracy in Southern Kurdistan . We are all disappointed of the fact that today after 200 years of struggle for freedom we are still not any closer to recognizing our dream of having a united free country of our own. I wish that was not the case. I wish we did have a country of our own. I wish the leaders of Southern Kurdistan could see the light and would realize the fact that the only way to achieve freedom and to reach the Promise Land is through honesty, integrity, democracy and empowerment of the people.
One of the arguments that the Jewish people have always been making here in the United States , and because of it they have been able to solicit both moral and material support for Israel , has been the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East . One cannot but admire that country, when one sees that in Israel nobody is above the Law; the fact that their police and Law Enforcement agencies can question their highest political office holder (President, Prime Minister, anybody) for an allegation of possible corruption. There is a lesson in this for us the Kurdish people, if we are smart enough to learn it; and I wish that our leaders understood that. Nobody agrees with corruption and lack of democracy in Kurdistan . But, having said that, in my judgment, it is not fair to attack the memory of a great leader such as Mullah Mustafa Barzani and put the blame on him for what is going on today in Southern Kurdistan .