Kurdistan – Abdulrahman Al-Rais, Kurdistan/Iraq

Kurdistan is a compound name which means The Land of Kurds. Kurdistan has quite an extensive history in which Kurds have fought to gain rights and independence.

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Iraq Kurdish girls hold a Kurdistan flag (source: AFP/Getty)

This old Kurdish dream for an independent country came true on January 22, 1946 when Qazi Muhammad declared the first independent Kurdish country, the Republic of Mahabad. Mahabad is currently a city located in East Kurdistan of Iran. The Republic of Mahabad was a source of inspiration and hope to every Kurdish person, however, the dream collapsed almost a year later on December 15, 1946 when Iranian forces entered Mahabad and put an end to the first independent Kurdish country.

The Republic of Mahabad was able to reach independence due to support from the Soviet Union, however, Qazi Muhammed and his new country were left to fight the Iranian forces alone when the Soviets and other Kurdish tribes were not willing to get involved. Because Qazi Muhammed knew that it was helpless to fight, he surrendered and gave himself up to the Iranian authorities in the hope that his people would not be harmed. Qazi Muhammed was hanged on March 31, 1947 in the middle of Mahabad, due to the charges of treason laid against him. Before being hung, he said “I thank Allah: even in death he put my shoes above your heads”.

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Qazi Muhammad (source unknown)

Today, Kurdistan is divided among four countries: South Kurdistan in Iraq, North Kurdistan in Turkey, East Kurdistan in Iran and West Kurdistan in Syria. Kurds are still dreaming of a united and independent country, however, this is not possible due to many political and economic reasons such as the global economy, the recent significant decrease in petroleum prices (Kurdistan is mostly dependent on its petroleum resources) and finally, the interior political situation. Some parties believe Kurdistan is not ready to be independent yet while some other parties think the opposite. The neighboring countries is another reason why Kurdistan is not independent.

Neither Iran, Iraq,Turkey nor Syria are ready to give up their large Kurdish regions from their countries even though the Kurds living in Turkey, Iran and Syria are receiving horrible treatment. Kurds are not receiving access to some of their basic human rights in those countries and there is no real worldwide support for Kurds to make their own country. The recent and ongoing war against the Islamic State has lead to the death of hundreds of young Kurds but it also had a positive impact because Kurdistan is getting more worldwide support and this war has lead to the unity of Kurds everywhere.

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A map of Kurdistan (Source: Joe Burgess,The New York Times)

Islam is the main religion in Kurdistan and the majority of Kurds are not extremists so generally, religion had a good impact on the Kurdish society. For example, a lot of religiously inspired people do a lot of campaigns to prevent poverty or child hunger. Nearly 97% of the Kurdish population is Muslim and the other 3% are divided into other religious minorities. However, they collectively share a sense of national pride. None of the many wars that have happened throughout history have been able to break the Kurdish spirit, as Kurds are still proud of their nation and history.

While Kurdistan is a proud nation, there are many significant problems and ongoing issues. For example, there is an extreme homophobia, a lack of sexual education, and sexism in villages. This sexism is not as visible in cities however there are some social laws that limit women activities. With time, these social laws are growing outdated, therefore reducing in significance. In addition, Kurdistan has a dysfunctional education system. In the cities, majority of children get a chance to attend school, but not in villages. The education system in Kurdistan does not have a unified curriculum because every education minister have his own curriculum and none of the other education ministers could follow each other’s curriculum so the students, in my opinion, become more like experimental rats to the government. Furthermore, the regional government is not completely democratic because even though Kurds are able to elect their president, there are still many freedoms and rights in which the majority of the society don’t know about or are restricted from. The poverty rate is low compared to other middle eastern countries but after the IS war, there was a significant increase in the poverty rate.

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Peshmerga forces (source: Al Jazeera)

Fortunately, the Kurdish youth are becoming more and more aware of these problems, and hopefully they can be solved in the future. Kurdistan is still developing and there are many Kurdish people willing to support and defend this development.The Kurdish society loves and appreciates the Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, and see them as heroes in their fight against the Islamic State.  Peshmerga means ‘before death’ in Kurdish ; the military forces of Kurdistan have adopted this name to show their willingness to fight for their nation. Thepeshmerga fights any threat facing Kurdistan.

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