Iraq is a joint Arab-Kurdish country
The true Identity of Iraq
May 28, 2006
By Azad Othman
Iraq is a joint Arab-Kurdish country, a Kurd likewise an Arab, could be elected as president or as foreign minister. Those who reject this clear right of Kurdish people and deny the real identity of the country are neo-Baathists who are against justice, equality, democracy, and federalism.
The Kingdom of Iraq was established in 1921 with its present borders (due to desire of British empire) on wrong foundations such the compulsory annexing of South Kurdistan to Iraq, and upon divisive principles like privileging some groups of Arab Sunni minority and marginalizing the role of the Shiite’s majority population in southern Iraq.
Furthermore, the provocative ideas of “provisional constitutions” of the various Iraqi regimes came to the power in the “Republican era” through military coup d’états aggravated the state.
Finally, racial politics of repressive measures took by the totalitarian Baath regime particularly against the Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, and its aggressive politics against the neighbouring countries resulted destructive regional wars and took the Iraq to a tragic situation.
The main cause of distorting the reality of the identity of Iraq’s state was the racist attitude of the “Arab nationalist groups” who were in power during the royal and republican reign. They claimed and are still claiming that the whole Iraqi population including the Kurds are a part of the “Arab nation”, and they consider the whole land of Iraq including South Kurdistan as a part of the “Arab homeland” or as a part of the Arab national territory. It should be kept in mind that these Arab nationalists are quite aware of the reality that “Iraqi Kurdistan” is a part of Kurdistan which is divided among Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria and that the Kurds in Iraq are part of the Kurdish nation separated by borders, mines, and conventions among these states and within their framework.
Regarding the roots of the real Iraqi identity, there are three axiomatic facts:
First: Iraq consists of Arab Iraq and South Kurdistan. This self-evident fact was deduced by the Fact-Finding Committee sent by the League of Nations in 1925 to the “Wilayet” of Mosul, where South Kurdistan constitute the major part of it. The committee mentioned in its report that the present Iraq comprises the Arab Iraq (Arabic part of Iraq), Jazirah, and Kurdistan and that the northern borders of the Arabic part of Iraq does not go beyond the line which extend from Hit on the Euphrates, Tikrit on the Tigris, until chain of Hamrain mountains (Fadhil Hussain, The Mosul Problem / Arabic, 1977:78). The great historian Abu Bakr al-Khwarizmi also confirmed this issue 1000 years ago (903 – 1002) in the book “Al-Rasa’il” (p.45-46). This fact confirms that Iraq is not merely an Arab or Kurdish country (state); rather, it is a joint Arab-Kurdish country, inhabited also by many other national minorities Chaldeans, Turkmen, Assyrians, Syrians, and Armenians in addition to the Arabs and the Kurds. These minorities have rights and duties similar to those of the Arabs and Kurds. There are also many religions and sects in Iraq. Islam, Christianity, Ezdiis (Yazidis), Sabeans, Yarsan, Alawites, and Judaism. All of these religions and sects have their own rights, which must be respected and acknowledged constitutionally and practically.
The core of the second fact: is that the Arabs of Iraq are part of the divided Arab nation, and the Kurds of Iraq are part of the divided Kurdish nation. Considering the Kurds and other national minorities in Iraq as a part of the Arab nation is simply not true. Nationalistic pride and ignoring others is a detestable racial practice. Not only because it does not harmonize with most basic human rights, but also because it contradicts Islamic shari'a. God created us as peoples and nations to get to know each other, to acknowledge each other, and to cooperate with each other, and not to prefer one nation to dominate others and impose its national identity upon the others, as it is the case in Turkey and Syria. A Kurd or an Arab in Turkey is considered as a Turkish citizen; Kurds or Assyrians in Syria are considered as Syrian Arab citizens and so is fixed in their identity cards. This nationalistic racism contradicts the principles of democracy and civilization, about which the secular regime in Turkey brags. Moreover, it contradicts the concepts of socialism and progressiveness, which the Baath regime in Syria claims to adopt.
The term nation in its modern definition is derived from the French word “nation”, is linked dialectically with the process of state-building in its modern meaning. It has only two meanings in the political science or in the political dictionary since the 19th century:
The first meaning is directly linked to the official entity of people living together within the framework of one country, that is the people of a specific country which has sovereignty and approved international borders regardless of number of ethnic groups, religions, and sects. For example, we say the American nation, the Canadian nation, the Swiss nation, the Indian nation, the Chinese nation, the Egyptian nation, etc. For this reason citizenship called in English “nationality” and in German “Nationalitaet”. The second meaning is linked to the joint historical origin of every people or rather to their joint language and culture. In this regard, we say the Persian nation, the Turkish nation, the Arab nation, the Kurdish nation, etc. Therefore, if the Arabs in Iraq are part of the Arab nation due to the linguistics or cultural denotation, then the Kurds according to the same reason, certainly are part of the Kurdish nation.
The third fact: affirms that a common country or a common religion, or a common sect, or the size of any one national group in every country does not cancel the identity, history, and the culture of the other national groups. It also does not justify putting all of them in the melting pot of the larger national group or changing their national identity. Otherwise, the number of peoples would be equal to the number of religions or of great peoples only. Otherwise for example, all the Swiss people would become German, and thus Switzerland would be considered as a German country, because the population density of German national there would be more than 65% . However, because the Swiss system is federal and democratic the identity of the other national groups: the French (18%) and the Italian (10%) are equally acknowledged exactly as the German national identity. Switzerland is so considered a German-French-Italian country. In this way, the true identity of Switzerland is recognized. None of the German intellectuals or scientific researchers will argue about the roots of this realistic identity. None of them will claim that all of Switzerland or all the Swiss people are German although the majority of its population is German.
In any case ,as far as Kurdistan remains as a part of an federal Iraqi state, Iraq is a joint Arab-Kurdish country, and a Kurd has the right to be elected, just like an Arab, as President or as foreign minister. Those who deny this clear right for the Kurdish people in Iraq are definitely “neo-Baathists” and they are practically against the unity of Iraq, then they are against peace, democracy, and federalism.
Its already three years since the downfall of the totalitarian racist Baath regime on 9 April 2003, the persons who were suppressed or persecuted in Iraq in the previous era are trying - under very difficult internal circumstances and obvious external contention - to build the Iraq of the future, a new Iraq. They are doing this on the basis of voluntary union, parliamentary democracy, and civilized dialogue among all the ethnic groups and segments of the society, based on a permanent constitution, approved by 80% of the people of Iraq. In order to achieve justice and equality so that peace and progress will be guaranteed to all.
* Azad Othman is a political scientist in Berlin-Germany.