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Self-determination

Oct 02,2017 - Last updated at Oct 02,2017

Israeli officials speak loudly in support of the Kurds’ right to have their independent state, using the same words Palestinians do in arguing for the same rights.

Israelis say that the Kurds have been denied their right to have their own political entity. According to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Kurds should be allowed to exercise self-determination and enjoy sovereignty.

Yet, most Israeli leaders deny such rights to the Palestinians without batting an eyelid.

Such irreconcilable positions on Palestinians and Kurds put the Israelis’ moral position on shaky grounds.

It is not the principle that motivates its proclamations, but self-interest.

The Kurds are an integral part of the Islamic world and history. They are simultaneously Arabs in their use of Arabic. If DNA tests were done on all Arabs of the Mashreq, they would reveal that at least 50 per cent of them have Kurdish roots.

The Kurds’ contribution to the Arab world throughout the history cannot be overestimated.

Sultan Salahuddin Al Ayyubi (Saladin), is the saviour of Jerusalem, the hero of the battle of Hittin against the invading Europeans under the leadership of king Richard the Lionheart.

It was Saladin who took to his court Maimonides (Ibn Maimoun), the Jewish philosopher who was a citizen of Cordoba under the Umayyad reign in the 12th century. After his books were burnt, he sought refuge with Saladin, not to a European country.

Saladin settled thousands of his troops in major cities that were threatened by the invading Europeans (misnamed crusaders).

In Palestinian and Jordanian cities, there are many Kurdish quarters, such as in Hebron, Jerusalem and Salt.

There are some contemporary Kurds who blame Saladin for moving to defend the Arab world, which moved Kurds into diaspora and weakened their resolve to build their own state.

This argument’s validity is dubious. Armenians have been all over the Arab world and in Central Asia. Eventually they were able to establish their independent state.

Kazakhs, Azeris and Uzbeks invaded the Arab world, but were able eventually to have their own very large independent states.

What the Kurds suffer from is the fact that the colonial powers reshaped the geography of Africa and the Middle East in order to divide, conquer and rule.

African wise men took upon themselves to accept their borders as they had been delineated by the respective colonial powers.

In Turkey, Iran and the Arab world, the demarcation lines are still a major source of conflict and wars.

Unfortunately for the Kurds, the territories they claim are divided among four countries: Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. None of these countries is willing to allow the creation of a united independent Kurdistan. They see it as a dangerous threat to their stability and even existence.

After the Kurdish referendum, the results indicate, even in the autonomous Kurdish province of Iraq, that there is a significant number of Kurds who are worried by the dangerous implications of separation.

Creating autonomous entities in Turkey, Iran and Syria would be in itself, as things stand now, a victory for the aspiring Kurds. 

The Kurds are seeking self-determination; the Palestinians aspire to get the same.

 

 

The writer is a former Royal Court chief, deputy prime minister and member of Senate. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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