October 5, 2009
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Ask not why They Did it to us; Ask Why We Did it to Ourselves! - By Dr. Rashid Karadaghi

Ask any Kurd, this one included, why his people have not been able to establish a free and independent Kurdistan, despite the huge sacrifices they have made for over a century to attain that goal, and he would be quick to blame everybody and every imaginable circumstance of history and geography and geopolitics but themselves for this failure. (One hundred ninety-three nations have achieved independence and become members of the United Nations even though the vast majority of them are less numerous and can claim far less territory than the Kurds.)

In analyzing the reality of the Kurdish situation, past, present, and future, we must first stop being in denial and identify correctly the causes of our failure to achieve our goals if we hope to break out of living and reliving a never-ending vicious cycle of failure after failure, which has been our people’s lot for much of our recent history.

While it is abundantly clear that our enemies are not only extremely vicious but also cunning as they have managed to win international support in their brutal occupation of our homeland and oppression of our people for a very long time, it is also undeniable, whether we admit it or not, that we have been hurting our own cause and prolonging our oppression because of our own fixed mindset. Thus, even though we have paid a heavier price than most other oppressed people in a similar situation to ours to gain our freedom, we have, unlike them, not reaped the fruit of our sacrifices.

Our Kurdish political literature, poetry, folklore, and historical experience tell us that freedom is taken, not given; yet, we cling to the false notion that our oppressor will grant us our freedom! We know that no oppressor has ever granted freedom to the oppressed willingly and out of the goodness of his heart, yet we want to believe otherwise and act accordingly.

Even when we have a golden opportunity to wrestle our freedom from the occupier and deal a fatal blow to his rule, we fail to seize the opportunity and act not only against our own best interest but also in the interest of our oppressor. The way we have dealt with the Arab Iraqis since the liberation of Iraq in 2003 best illustrates this point, for instead of making sure that the oppressive state of Iraq would never be reconstituted, after its total collapse, we were instrumental in rebuilding it from its ashes, thinking that the oppressor was going to be humanized, but we were dead wrong. Instead of letting the Arab Iraqis deal with their problems themselves while we would put our own Kurdish house in order and work for a free and independent Kurdistan, we advocated a “unified” Iraq as if eighty years of genocide hadn’t taught us anything about the nature of the beast! 

We worked hard trying to stop the sectarian violence and build bridges of reconciliation between the warring factions in Iraq, thinking that they would pay us back for our good deeds, but we were wrong. Anyone with any knowledge of history and human nature knows that an oppressor may change his tactic when he is temporarily down, but his character will not change. True to its tradition, now that the “new Iraq” feels it can stand on its own feet, it is paying us back Saddam style. So the question is, “Are they doing it to us, or are we doing it to ourselves?”

Many Kurds, especially those in a position of leadership, would give you every reason why it is simply not possible to establish, let alone defend, an independent Kurdistan, as if they were advocates of the oppressor instead of their own people. They would tell you that an independent Kurdistan is only a pipedream.

Oddly enough, the same people who criticize those of us who believe we can throw off the yoke of oppression and become independent defend and even advocate other people’s causes and their right to become independent. It is as if, to them, every other people have the right and the ability to be free and independent except their own! The occupiers of our homeland don’t have to bother about telling us to forget about an independent Kurdistan; we do that on their behalf and repeatedly to make sure that the dreamers among us don’t get the wrong idea --- God forbid!

For any cause to achieve victory, its leaders must be its strongest advocates and champions, which is why they have become leaders, yet ours are the biggest detractors of the cause they are supposed to lead toward victory. I am reminded time and time again of what a friend of mine used to say of his predicament, “I think that my lawyer is against me.”

There is a sense in us Kurds of having been made a victim by geography, history, fate, circumstances --- and “the other.” While this may be true to a large extent, what is also true is that we have had a big hand in our own victimization due to our lack of faith in our ability to do whatever it takes to change our condition. It is time that we empowered ourselves to be what we can and should be --- a free nation!

No occupier is too powerful to stand against a people with a just cause like ours, a people who insist on their God-given right to be free, a people who say “NO” to the oppressor and mean it. 

No one can deny the difficult hand we Kurds have been dealt, but while it is true that we can’t control the circumstances we are born into, we can control the way we deal with them. We have been hurt by a mentality that is noble in its rejection of submission and injustice but misguided in how to end that injustice, which is why, unlike other nations, all our untold sacrifices have not won us freedom.

If we ever hope to become a free and independent nation, we must make a comprehensive review of our ancient and recent history and find else can deny us or grant us our freedom. We must cleanse ourselves from the defeatist mentality that has kept us from achieving our goal. Nothing is impossible unless we make it so.

The only way for us out of our predicament is to stop putting all the blame for our failures on others and start admitting our responsibility in creating and prolonging the condition we are in. Short of this admission, our tomorrows will be just like our yesterdays and we will remain enslaved forever. I am of the belief that it is up to us to empower ourselves and turn things around and that a bright future is awaiting our people if only we reach out for it and grab it.


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