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Recognize Kurdistan as a Nation

By Yassin Aref, Commentary
Published 8:00 pm, Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Albany Times Union
Albany, New York

An American Christian, A.J. Muste, said: "There is no way to peace, peace is the way." To me, this is the principle: If they really want peace, let them use it. As activists chanted before Iraqi's second war, let them "Give peace a chance."

It's politics, it's hypocrisy, to cry for peace and then declare a war, to talk about freedom and then invade a country, to claim to stand for human dignity and rights and then end thousands of innocent lives. There are always excuses and plenty of fictional reasons for war. It's very easy to deceive people and create a case for war and frighten them into supporting it. But it will not be easy to stop this war or even predict where it will go or how it will end.

To honorable intellectual politicians — I mean the arrogant ones who send other people's children to die while they send their own children to Cambridge and Harvard for education and to Hawaii and the Bahamas for vacations — people like me and the poor mothers who have said no to a third Iraq war, no to attacking Syria, no to going to the Middle East, are nothing but worthless people, insane noisemakers. But it's the politicians who are insane, It seems they do not read history and do not benefit from their own mistakes, since they keep repeating the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

It's sad to see a bunch of mad youths pushing the entire world toward their direction and to what they always dream of: a big clash that they can claim is between two civilizations. How can the fragile Middle East, unstable Iraq and wounded Syria endure another decade of war? How many more people need to die?
How many more millions need to lose everything and end up in refugee camps?

Let's look back at a few wars. Before each of them, we heard a lot of promises, from nation-building to democracy to freedom to a peaceful life for all. But now we know the promises were just illusions.

Look at Somalia: After all these years of war and destruction, where's the promised democracy, rebuilding and peace? All they created was chaos, which brought Al-Shabab into existence, and then even before they got rid of them a new group, Boko Haram, popped up in their back yard.

Look at Afghanistan: Where's the promised democracy, freedom and peace? They brought back corrupt warlords to power and they ruined the country, and even before they destroyed the Taliban another Taliban popped up in their back yard.

Look at Iraq: After a sea of blood and almost a million innocent people dead, where's the promised democracy, peace and freedom? All we got were sectarians and extremists who opened the door for Al-Qaida to come in, and then even before they demolished them ISIS popped up in their backyard.

Now, millions of concerned citizens and peace activists like me are wondering: How will this war be any different? Why are we going back again for another possible decade of war? What can really be accomplished? And what may pop up this time? And where?

As for what the Kurds need, it is not weapons or money, and using them for fighting just complicates their problems and destroys the justice of their cause.

The Kurds' problems did not start with ISIS and will not end with it; the Kurdish cause is centuries old and needs a real answer.

Whoever loves the Kurds and wants to help them should support Kurdish liberty and an independent state of Kurdistan. Go to the U.N. and make a case for it. Petition the U.N. secretary general. Educate people about it, write to lawmakers and ask your politicians to support it.

Kurds are a nation, and we must be acknowledged as a nation. That is what we need, that is what will really protect us and save our land, that is what we have being struggling for, and that is what we are still longing for.

Yassin Aref, an Iraqi Kurd and a Muslim imam, has spoken against war and for Kurdish independence since the 1980s. In the 1990s he and his family fled to Syria, and then came to Albany in 1999 as refugees. Convicted in a FBI terrorism sting in 2006, he has spent the last decade in prison. This piece is excerpted from a letter he sent last month to a supporter.