Another New Light Must Shine Unto The Nations…

A Note To My Kurdish Friends: Another New Light Must Shine Unto The Nations…
by Gerald A. Honigman

My dear Kurdish friends…

Too much has been achieved over the past decades, amidst the blood of hundreds of thousands of your martyrs (especially in Southern Kurdistan), for the good news not to progress further. And while there are some similarities between the current turmoil happening elsewhere in the region and what is happening in your areas, there are some real differences as well. You do not have to go the way of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and so forth.

The dilemma you face will be to find the correct balance in dealing with the traditional grip of the few ruling families and the rejection of their ruling simply as Kurdish versions of the modern day Pharaohs, Shahs, medieval potentates, religious bigots, and so forth who have been in control seemingly forever of most all the rest of the region. While your true friends may work together with you, the burden, of course, will be mostly on yourselves to find this correct recipe.

The rule of the Talabani and Barazani (especially the latter) families, in particular, is steeped in Kurdish history. Under their leadership, much has been achieved to further the Kurdish cause.

The struggles of Mullah Mustafa Barzani and the Peshmerga against the Kurds’ oppressors–and the nasty games America’s own State Department was playing–were legendary to those of us watching anxiously from afar.

Like too many similar situations in non-democratic lands elsewhere, however, the entrenched rulers of the Kurds have also come to exercise and expect too many entitlements and privileges which came with the possession of power. They will not simply and abruptly agree to end this state of affairs. Recall the Hebrew Prophet, Samuel, warning your ancient Jewish neighbors against their desire for a human king in the Hebrew Bible (aka “Old Testament”)…

Regardless, there is no doubt that Kurdistan deserves the greater freedoms its people are demanding right now. And the leaders in Iraq have the ability to advance this cause for at least a part of your thirty-five million much used and abused people.

Having said this, however, it will be important to tred cautiously. Others will be only too happy to see Kurds killing Kurds over and over again.

Besides its flaws that need to be peacefully corrected, the Kurdish leadership has accomplished too much to help bring about the real progress which has been achieved so far only to allow itself to be recalled later in history as yet simply more regional despots who needed to be deposed so people could obtain justice.

It is time for the Barzanis and Talabanis to show, by their actions, that the greater good of Kurdistan indeed comes before their own personal ambitions. That’s what true leaders of people do…they don’t make the former synonymous with the latter.

Leaders must permit and help to set the next stage for the development of their people. Others must be allowed a meaningful voice, and power must be truly shared among all who love Kurdistan. Legitimate critics must not be gunned down by cronies…Without this, despite the progress, there will be little that distinguishes Kurdistan from the likes of Iran or Syria today. Furthermore, with America’s approaching withdrawal from Iraq, such bloody divisions among yourselves may very likely lead to losing what has already been achieved up to this point. Both surrounding external and internal enemies will gladly exploit any divisions to their own benefit–as you have seen happen so often in the past.

Having stated all of this, while I may be naive, I yet believe that the enemies you have faced (against whom the Barzanis and Talabanis courageously led you in defense and resistance) will also potentially allow for a greater bond between your leadership and your people as you enter into a new age. Again, up until now, your own internal rivalries, greed, and such have only played into the hands of your many enemies.

When will you–all of my Kurdish friends–finally learn?

With the assistance of those who truly care about you (as opposed to those simply concerned with enriching themselves) from the outside, the climate and institutions for greater freedoms and democracy, in at least your portion of Kurdistan, can find increasingly fertile ground in which to grow. Many folks from abroad want desperately for you to succeed in this–even though that mght seem hard to believe given the behavior of their governments too often in the past towards the plight of your people.

There are good reasons to be proud of the progress which has already been made…but there’s still lots more that needs to be achieved.

In the age of the cell phone, Facebook, and Twitter, Business as usual will not work any more. Your people–all peoples–deserve more. And this will depend largely on the willingness of the leading families to be better than the Kurds’ assorted oppressors have been. They must see this as a win-win situation for themselves too in the long run.

Non-Kurds and non-Muslims fleeing the intolerance of the other areas in Iraq increasingly find refuge in the Kurdish north. For many people, there has also been great progress in education, economics, and in other areas as well. In this, however, the story is similar to other places where leaders still have been hated and toppled.

The Biblical “chosenness” of the Jews was (is) based on the belief that their election by G_d–despite their human imperfections–was meant for them to become a light unto the nations to strive to show mankind the correct way to live a G_dly, moral life….a life filled with both love of G_d and love for one’s fellow man (direct quotes right out of the Torah and the Hebraic Prophets). This did not involve forcing others to convert, but required setting the example for others to follow.

While the Jews, like all peoples, often failed in these expectations themselves, their Prophets and later leaders periodically arose to remind them of what was expected to bring them back on the righteous path. Even the greatest of Jewish kings, David, was thus taken to task for simply behaving like all other kings behaved surrounding the Jews. The story of Nathan the Prophet taking David to task and bringing him low before his own people is moving indeed…Read it my Kurdish friends–and better yet, have your leaders read it so they see what should be expected in terms of their own behavior as well–unless the Assads, Saddam, Ahmadinejad, and mullahs are what they seek in terms of role models.

Kurdistan can be and do much better…

The bloodshed of recent days must stop. There has to be a true meeting of the minds to work together for the future. Too many lives have already been lost due to internal Kurdish divisions…and who knows what the not-too-distant future will bring once the Sunni and Shi’a no longer have the Americans on hand to prevent all hell from breaking loose yet again in your country.

Finally, one last thought for now…

Your friends abroad must let the ruling families know that they will not simply collaborate to enrich themselves at the expense of another new light–this time, one emanating from Kurdistan, waiting to shine on the nations, showing what may yet be possible for the rest of the region as well.

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