The unilateral declaration of Kurdish autonomy in Turkey was greeted with deadly silence. The world couldn’t care less.
Few of us may realize it, but 850 delegates from North Kurdistan recently declared democratic autonomy in Amed (Diarbakir), proclaimed as the capital of North Kurdistan. They invited all Kurds to regard themselves as Kurdistani citizens. The area the autonomy claims constitutes a substantial portion of southeastern Turkey.
Ankara waxed furious. The world couldn’t possibly be more oblivious.
The Kurds are indigenous folk arbitrarily overlooked by the powers that artificially carved up the Mideast after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire post-World War I. Not only were Kurds denied recognition and independence, but they were divided among Turkey (an estimated 20 percent of Turkey’s overall population), Iran (7% of Iran’s population), Iraq (20% of Iraq’s population) and Syria (9% of Syria’s population) – the latter two being synthetic political concoctions created by Britain and France, respectively.
The lack of elementary Iraqi and Syrian cohesion is reflected in internal strife to this day.
According to prevalent mythology, the international community deems self-determination the natural and inalienable right of each nationality. That, at least, is the pretext for the worldwide clamor for a Palestinian state.
Swept aside are reservations about the rather recent origin of claims to a separate Palestinian national identity, along with the fact that Palestinians are indistinguishable from their neighbors in language, religion, culture and every conceivable marker of ethic uniqueness.
National designation, we are told, is subjective. If any collective regards itself as worthy of self-determination, then self-determination is its due. Yet this principle is hardly applied with universal even-handedness. Evidence of bias abounds even without bringing in pervasive animus to the very notion that the long-suffering Jewish people merits sovereignty just like far younger and less distinctive ethnicities.
The Kurdish case clearly underscores such double standards.
Far more numerous than Palestinians, they’re estimated at between 30 million and 35 million. They form an obvious separate nationality, non-Arab, with its own culture and readily distinguishable language (a subcategory of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages.) They were around far before any Arabs had learned of the Palestinian moniker, and the Kurds struggled for independence long into the 19th century, before the advent of Arab nationalism. They established the short-lived Republic of Ararat in 1927 but it was soon vanquished. Both Turkey and Iran cruelly suppressed numerous Kurdish uprisings. Kurds are still fighting for their freedom.