The Kurdish Globe
By Qassim Khidjir &
“The declaration of South Sudan is a great lesson that no force can oppress the rights of a nation.”
“Arabs should look at their serious blunders and moral failures by facing the fact that the South Sudanese are an oppressed people whose grievances were against Arab rule and not against Western domination”
On the day when the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan emerged, most of the editorials in the Kurdish media in Iraqi Kurdistan Region were about South Sudan. This was not because Kurds are particularly interested in Africa’s affairs, but because Kurds believe they have similar history as the South Sudanese. They both faced decades of struggle, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
“Today is a bright day, not only for the history of South Sudanese, but also for all nations that struggled for a long time for their independence,” said Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani in a congratulatory letter to South Sudan President Salva Kiir. Barzani pointed out, “this is living proof that any nation with an independence movement can one day reach their goal.”
Barzani expressed his admiration to the leaders of the Republic of Sudan for respecting the decision of South Sudanese people. In a referendum last January, 98 percent of South Sudanese people voted to break away from Sudan. In the meantime, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Barham Salih, in a letter to Kiir said, “The declaration of South Sudan is a great lesson that no power can oppress the rights of a nation.”
Member of the Kurdistan Parliament Omer Nuradini explained that the Kurds were excited about the independence of South Sudan more than the independence of other nations because South Sudan, like Kurdistan, is in the Arab region. He also noted Sudan like Iraq was a British colony; Sudan like Iraq is a multi-ethnic and religious country; and South Sudan like Kurdistan Region took arms to gain liberation.
Another Kurdish MP, Abdul Salam Barwari, said the difference between Kurdistan Region and South Sudan is when South Sudan got federalism, it was submitted in the constitution that South Sudan has the right to hold a referendum to decide whether they want to be part of Sudan or break away. But in the Iraqi Constitution, it is not mentioned that Kurdistan Region has right to hold a similar referendum.
Iraqi Kurds weren’t the only ones celebrating South Sudan’s independence. Kurdish politicians and thinkers in Turkey’s Kurdish areas also celebrated. Former chief of pro-Kurdish Rights and Freedom party in Turkey, Sertaç Bucak, said until 1989, the United Nations and Western countries considered the minority issue to be an internal affair. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, minority issues became an international issue. Furthermore, Bucak told the Globe the referendum in Sudan was the first time the U.N. observed this type of referendum. Remarkably, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir respected the results of the referendum and attended the celebration of the independence of South Sudan. “South Sudan has showed the world that every nation has the right for self-determination.”
A Kurdish politician and writer in Turkey, Îbrahîm Guçlu, believes now it is the era for oppressed nations to get their rights. “I hope the South Sudan model will be repeated for all the oppressed nations, particularly the Kurdish nation.”
Pan-Arabism and political Islam have failed in South Sudan
Iraqi Arab leaders barely made a statement about the independence of South Sudan. Observers believe the Arab world has to draw the right lessons from it wants to avoid other Arab states breaking apart into ethnic and sectarian enclaves. The birth of South Sudan is first and foremost a testimony to the failure of the official Arab order, pan-Arabism, and especially the Islamic political projects to provide civil and equal rights to ethnic and religious minorities in the Arab world. The jubilation that swept the people of South Sudan at their independence from the predominantly Arab and Muslim north attests to the long-standing feelings of repression and alienation by a people, the majority of whom were born into the post-independence Arab world.
Lamis Andoni, an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs, wrote to Al-Jazeera and said Intellectuals in the Arab world should not comfort themselves by pointing — even though rightly so — to Western hypocrisy and double standards in supporting, embracing and recognizing the new state of South Sudan while effectively blocking the emergence of an independent Palestinian state. Arabs should look at their serious blunders and moral failures by facing the fact that the South Sudanese are an oppressed people whose grievances were against Arab rule and not against Western domination. It is true the people of South Sudan may still find themselves prey to greedy Western governments interested in their rich natural resources, but that does not change the reality that people of the new state celebrated the end of what they viewed as oppression by an Arab and Muslim elite.
“Pan-Arabism was initially an anti-colonial movement, some of its branches — especially the Baath Arab parties that ruled Syria and Iraq — demonstrated and practiced destructive racist policies and actions against other ethnic groups and nationalities. The case of the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq testify to different degrees of exclusivist, supremacist and racist policies by both Baathist political parties,” said Andoni.
“The Arab uprisings have already exposed the utter political and financial corruption of Arab leaders and the absence of freedom and justice. The Arab order has not only failed minorities and its non-Arab components, but the Arab masses as well,” she concluded.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Pyramidion’s editorial policy