The Kurds; the New Player in the Middle East
The Kurdish Question and the Kurdish Problem date back many centuries. The Kurds have had many independent princedoms. So far, there have been three Kurdish governments: the first was the Southern Kurdistan Government of 1922, led by Sheikh Mahmood; the second was the Kurdistan Republic in Mahabad, led by Qazi Mhammad in 1946; the third, the Kurdistan Regional Government established after the 1991 Spring and currently led by President Masoud Barzani. The first and the third are in southern, the second in Eastern Kurdistan. Revolution and caution are new terms in Northern and Western Kurdistan.
The Barzani clan has played a role in all the revolutions, uprisings and Kurdish governments of the nineteen twenties. Mustafa Barzani, a masterful leader, played a key role in the Mahabad Republic—a role in which he showed himself to be a revolutionary hero, but also a national figure with the strategic and political skills to work towards the unification of the Kurds and the solution of the Kurdish Question. Again, during his leadership of the September 11, 1961 Revolution after his return from the former Soviet Union, he strove to convince all the Kurds to take part in the revolution and consider themselves as one nation with one question. As a Kurdish leader, he always treated all Kurds from every part of Kurdistan, and every religious and ethnic component of Kurdistan, equally. under him, Christians, Yazidi, Kakays, Shabaks, Turkmans and even Arabs could take part in the revolution as brothers, and many members of these groups played responsible roles.
Today, extensive work is being done on his strategic message in a new and different era by the KRG President, Masoud Barzani. He seeks to unify Kurdish political discourse and to move forward toward a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey and other regions.
The visit Barzani paid to Amed, his meeting with the Turkish premier and his delivery of an official speech in Kurdish at an official ceremony constitute historic evidence of developments with regard to the Kurdish Question—a question whose component parts involve soil, nation and the other components who live in Kurdistan. In the meantime, when it comes to a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question, President Barzani’s viewpoint and plans should be respected and analyzed as part of a long-term strategy. What President Barzani is doing is moving towards the return of the Kurds’ individual dignity, a Kurdish renaissance, a new and modern form of Kurdistan, far from violence and bloodshed. And he is doing all this as the leader of a lawful and constitutional entity called the Iraqi Federal Kurdistan Region.
When criticism is levelled at Barzani to the effect that his visit was personal and for economic purposes, even if this were true, we should still admit that Barzani is using his position as the official and recognized president of the KRG to solve the Kurdish Question. Moreover, this is the first time a Kurdish leader and president can use the economy as a powerful weapon for solving the Kurdish Question with the countries between which Kurdistan remains divided.
So, whatever the case, President Barzani’s actions are appropriate ways of unifying Kurdish discourse and making steps towards peace and then freedom. That is why we can say that the Kurds— one of the first victims of mass extermination and policies designed to force nations into an international mould—are the new player in the Middle East. If we are cautious, President Barzani will play this new and unprecedented role again.