There is no military solution to the Kurdish question 

4/19/2006 - By Dr Hussein Tahiri 

The Kurdish question has gained momentum, both in regional and international arenas. Therefore, it begs the question for how long the states ruling over Kurdistan will continue to deny the Kurdish rights.

Over a century of suppression and attempts at elimination of the Kurds, both physically and culturally, it has been proven that there is no military solution to the Kurdish question. If a military solution was a viable option, by now, the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) who demanded Kurdish cultural and political rights would be eliminated and other Kurds would have been Turkified. A similar scenario would have happened to the Kurds in Eastern Kurdistan (Iran). The Kurds in South Kurdistan (Iraq) would have been physically eliminated by successive Iraqi governments and the Kurds in Western Kurdistan (Syria) would have been Arabised.

However, as we have seen the opposite is true in all parts of Kurdistan. The Kurdish demands for cultural and political rights in North, East and West Kurdistan have grown stronger than ever and in the South the Kurds have been able to impose a Kurdish federal government on the new Iraqi government. The Kurdish self-consciousness has reached an unprecedented level in Kurdish history and there is no return to previous state of affairs. Thus, the only way forward is to try to find a political solution to the Kurdish question in all parts of Kurdistan.

Unfortunately, successive rulers of Kurdistan cannot understand this fact and they insist on a military solution to the Kurdish question. For the last several years the suppression of the Kurds in the West (Syria) has increased. More recently, the Turkish military used force to suppress Kurdish demonstrators which resulted in the killing of 16, several of whom were children under ten years old. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan who leads a doctrine of ‘Kemalist Islamism’ does not seem to see any other solution to the Kurdish question other than military force. During the Kurdish demonstrations in Diyarbekir and other Kurdish towns to legitimise their suppression, he called the demonstrators ‘the pawns of terrorism’ and said if necessary they would shoot at women and children. It seems that the rulers of Kurdistan are determined to solve the Kurdish issue through military means which has thus far proven unsuccessful. Is there any way out of this vicious circle?

Turkish, Persian and Arab intellectuals have a duty in trying to promote a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question as an alternative to military force; a duty that they have failed to fulfil so far. This duty falls on them not only as a responsibility that they have towards the Kurds as a nation who need to fulfil their national aspirations but as intellectuals who are responsible for the future of their own people.

Since Kurdistan was subdivided among Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the Kurds in different parts of Kurdistan have been subject to suppression and they have been deprived of their basic human rights. Kurdish demands for cultural and political rights have been met with oppression, persecution and genocide. Suppression of the Kurds has increased the human rights abuses in Kurdistan by the ruling states. Thousands of Kurds have been detained and imprisoned each year. Historically, all parts of Kurdistan have been treated as military camps. Kurds have been tortured, imprisoned, raped and executed by the military apparatus of the ruling states.

Alongside the Kurds even non-Kurdish population such as Turks, Persians and Arabs have suffered. In response to the Kurdish question the military organs of the states ruling over Kurdistan were empowered and given unlimited authority. These organs have become intolerant of any dissidents within these countries. They have suppressed their own people to maintain their grip on power and opposed democratisation of their societies. In this process, not only Kurds have suffered human rights abuses but the dominant nations in these countries as well.

Furthermore, the states ruling over Kurdistan have spent billions of dollars each year buying weapons to suppress the Kurds. Fighting between the ruling governments and Kurdish forces has cost thousands of lives on both sides. Alternatively, these governments could invest their financial and human resources to build and advance their own country rather than the suppression of the Kurds. These are issues that the Turkish, Persian and Arab intellectuals have failed to understand. A peaceful solution to the Kurdish question is not only to do with the Kurds but it is essential for progress, development and prosperity of the dominant nations.

In searching to find a solution to the Kurdish question one could talk about political boundaries, geography, geopolitics, geostrategic issues and many other ‘geos’ but in reality the Kurdish question is not as complex as some people try to portray. It is simply the question of a nation of over 40 million people with their own distinct history, language, and culture who have been suppressed for decades. As we enter the 21st century, ruling states continue to deny the Kurds their basic human rights. They still deny that a Kurdish nation with its own distinct identity exists, and do not consider granting the people any of their legitimate rights.

Therefore, decades of suppression, persecution, genocide and destruction of Kurdistan and denial of Kurdish identity have taught the Kurds that they can no longer live under suppression. They need to determine their own future so they can nurture their culture and plan their own future, free from persecution. Self-determination is the legitimate right of the Kurdish nation. Sooner or later there will be an independent Kurdish state.

The Kurdish nation has suffered for decades and deserves to live in peace and security. Kurds should be able to determine their social, political, economic and cultural rights. These rights have been recognized by the United Nations. Article 1:1 of the UN International Human Rights Covenants states, “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Why should there be more bloodshed? The states ruling over Kurdistan have to accept that a united independent Kurdistan is an inevitable fact. They should work with the Kurds to find a peaceful solution to the issue. Above all, having friendly neighbours are in their interests.

It also falls upon the Kurds (in fact it is long overdue) to form a coordinating body to promote understanding among various Kurdish political parties and organisations: a body that will promote social, political, economic and cultural development of Kurdish society; a body that would represent national aspirations of the Kurds and act as a voice for the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan. Only then can the Kurds have a strong political voice to promote their cause on regional and international levels and push for a political and democratic solution to the Kurdish question.