Kurds: The Engine of Democracy

By Joseph Puder, FrontPageMagazine.com

Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly Syria (KNA-S) was the guest speaker at an Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel (ITAI) luncheon on Wednesday, August 29, 2007, at Philadelphia’s Union League.

[Sherkoh, Joseph and I are all Directors of the American Kurdish Friendship League]

ITAI’s chairman Charles Kahn Jr. introduced Mr. Abbas and greeted the roomful of participants, which included a number of Protestant clergymen. Rev. William Sutter delivered the invocation.

A native of Western Kurdistan (Syria), Sherkoh Abbas is a longtime Kurdish-American activist who has successfully united the Syrian Kurdish movement, and created a coalition of Syrian opposition groups (Kurdish and Arab), whose aim is to bring freedom and democracy in Syria. Abbas is also the founder and director of the Center for Democracy in the Middle East and co-founder of the America-Kurdistan Friendship League (AKFL). In March 2006, Abbas organized a conference at the U.S. Senate in Washington that brought together all the oppositions groups in Syria, including Sunni-Arabs, Kurds, Christians, and Druze. Abbas is also the President of the Kurdish-American Committee for Democracy in Syria, and co-founder of the Kurdish National Congress. He has testified at the U.S. Congress on behalf of stateless Kurds in Syria, and organized a conference at the European Parliament to address the issue of Kurdish human and national rights within Syria. Abbas is a prominent leader of the Kurdish Dorkian tribe.

Abbas began his presentation with a short history of the Kurdish people. “Kurds” he said, “live in the Middle East divided among 4-5 nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and the former Soviet bloc. We call the Iran portion as East Kurdistan, Iraq as south Kurdistan, Syria as West Kurdistan, and Turkey as North Kurdistan. The area of Kurdistan is larger than France. Kurds number about 40-50 millions: 10-12 million in Iran, 5-6 million in Iraq, 3-4 million in Syria, and 25-35 million in Turkey.”

Explaining that Kurds have been oppressed for more than a century by Arab, Persian, and Turkish rulers, Abbas reminded the audience that “Saddam Hussein gassed 5000 Kurds in Halabja in 1988,” and that other regimes like the Assads in Syria have “practiced ethnic cleansing against the Kurds and stripped them of Syrian citizenship.” Kurds want democracy in the Middle East for obvious reasons-it would benefit them. At the very least, they are seeking federalism in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, if not outright independence.

Turning his attention to U.S. policy in the region Abbas asked: “Can you imagine 50-100 million ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East becoming part of your (American) team, promoting democracy, human rights, and fighting Islamic radicalism? 50%-75% of these minorities are moderate Muslims who want secular governments. They are anti-radicals and pro-American, and moreover are willing to stand and fight against the radicals in the Muslim world. It could change the outcome in Iraq, and may very well produce amazing results for America in Syria, Iran and Lebanon.”

September 20, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Recently the UN passed a resolution giving aboriginals “the right to maintain and strenghen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions”. Now the definition of aboriginals is that they are primitive. Everyone knows that, except for not having firearms and a complex material life, they are no more primitive than anyone else. So, this resolution should also apply to the Kurds as well as to “aboriginals”. If they are aboriginals, or the equivalent, Turkey and Iran etc. have agreed that the Kurds should have political freedom.

    In this instance we should take the UN members at their word and hold them to it.

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