PLIGHT a military operation known as “Al Anfal

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Last updated: March 26, 2019

PLIGHT OF THE KURDSIN IRAQ AND TURKEY      IRAQThe period during which Iran-Iraq war wastaking place, the Kurds were vigorously supporting the Iranians which earned them disdain of the then dictator Saddam Hussein who in revenge sent his troops to attack his own civilians withchemical weapons and massacred them in the most horrendous way the world had ever witnessed. The International community showed their solidarity with theoppressed but did not take any drastic step to take hold of the situation. In a militaryoperation known as “Al Anfal Campaign” systematic genocide of the Kurdishpeople was carried out; under this program the Kurdish town of Qala Dizeh wascompletely destroyed and completely wiped off of the inhabitants.

 Underthis program was another sinister motive of Arab-Izing the city of Kirkuk. Theoil rich city of Iraq was inhabited by the Kurds and needless to say a numberof human rights violations were carried out in the area. Saddam’s reign in Iraqproved to be disastrous for the Kurdish population.  After the gulf crisescame to a halt in 1988, the United Nations Security Council resolution 688introduced the idea for a safe haven for the Kurdish people. Under thisresolution a no fly zone was established on the northern partof Iraq which however left many of the Kurds vulnerable to the atrocities ofSaddam Hussein.  Violent clashes continued between the Kurdish freedomfighters and the Iraqi forces, however in the year 1991 after the defeat andexhaustion from the Second Gulf War the Iraqi troops withdrew. The Iraqi Kurdistanafter the Iraqi troops left started to function de facto independently. Twoimportant parties The Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan came about.

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However theclashes between these two parties led to intra-Kurdish conflict. Turkey priorto the US led invasion into Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the March of theyear 2003, did not allow United States to launch a northern front into Iraq from herbases. This decision of Turkey unintentionally made, aided the Iraqi Kurds inbecoming a US ally. The Kurds gained USA’s friendship by allowing them to usetheir land to open a northern front in Iraq and secure the oil fields in andaround Kirkuk.

After the successful overthrow of Saddam, Massoud Barzani andJalal Talabani, along with three independent Kurdish leaders were included inThe Iraq Governing Council that was appointed in 2003. Both Arabic and Kurdishwere recognized as the official languages of Iraq. Further, the constitutionalso reflected on this change where Islamic principles are to be considered “asource,” but not the only or the primary source, of law.TURKEY  Turkeyhosts one of the largest numbers of Kurds in the region. The Kurds live all across Turkey but they are largely concentrated in the east and south east ofthe region. The republic’s unfair treatment of the Kurds is a frequent subjectof International Criticism.

Kemal Ataturk the founding father of the modernTurkey is often blamed as the discriminator who made life arduous for theTurkish Kurds. Turkey in the year 1930 made a policy that aimed at forcible Turkification ofthe Kurds; they became extreme in their efforts in the year 1937 when the Tunceli rebellion took place. Tensions between the two groups persisted till the year1980 when military coup took place. The success of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party inthe year had in mobilizing a large number of Kurds during 1980s and 1990’sproved that the effort of Turkification was futile. Turkey is still not part ofthe European Union because of the longstanding Kurdish issue. Recently Turkeyalso refused to attack the ISIS faction that launched an attack on Kurdsresiding in Kobane – northern town city near Turkey; neither is it allowing theTurkish Kurds to take part in the battle hence triggering Kurdish protests.ANALYSISThe Kurdish issue serves as afine example of how culture can drastically impact the choices of groups andindividuals and how it can result in the incorporation of a long lastingconflict between two ethnic groups.

The problem began with the betrayal ofpromise and words by the British who had given their word that once the alliedpowers would leave the land of Turkey the indigenous group of Kurds would gainindependence and would have a separate homeland to practice their cultural valuesand design a constitution based upon those ideals. After the British left,Kemal Ata Turk rose to power and crushed the hopes and expectations of theKurds.  The policy of Turkification served as a last nail to the coffin of negotiationbetween the Turks and the Kurds. The concept of nation building had been present amongstthe Kurds even prior to the policy of Turkification because they believed thatthey are entitled to a separate homeland because of their distinct culturalidentity they had and therefore could not live freely with the Turks howeverafter 1925 the protests became even more vigorous and the clash has since thendistanced the two factions even more.

It is because of the stubbornness ofTurkish to impose their culture on Kurds the issue ceases to disappear and itappears that it would never cease until the cultural aspect of human naturemeets its demise, which is impossible in the near future considering thatevolution takes millions of years and the need of human beings to categorize themselveswith alike looking individuals is intrinsic and cannot be that easily rootedout. Hence culture has and will always be a cause of conflict between thepeople of multifarious cultures. 

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