Yaroslav Trofimov wrote a superb article on the complexities facing the Kurds. Can you imagine if you lived on land, but were without a country?
In this case, we are speaking about the Kurds. What a devastating history they have experienced… But there is always hope. Trofimov writes:
Just last week in Turkey, a political party rooted in the struggle for Kurdish rights vaulted over the 10% threshold for parliamentary representation, giving the Kurds their biggest say ever in Turkish politics.
In Iraq, the Kurds repelled an assault by Islamic State and their budding autonomous government in northern Iraq has seize (ed) full control of the disputed northern city of Kirkuk – often dubbed the “Kurdish Jerusalem” because of its historic significance…”
This is not a small number of people — 30 million. Who all of a sudden — or rather after multiple struggles and much perseverance — are claiming their own place.
Imagine this happening to you. After World War I, the Ottoman empire was disintegrating. The Kurds had an agreement to become Kurdistan, their own country in the southeastern part of Turkey. But it was quashed by Turkey. And then there were multiple times that their autonomy was recognized but then violated again and again by numerous countries all throughout the region. And countrylessness and violence continued for the Kurdish people.
But things change. Hope thrives.
In the latest Iraqi constitution, Kurds have been given powers for their own government. This is a moment. A moment again for freedom and self governance, that we hope no country will infringe upon. And with natural resources in oil, their own military, and a resurgence of their culture, they have a chance for self determination. And even power in negotiations in the world. They may play a powerful role in the region.
Now other people are cheering them on. It gives democracies hope, the U.S. hope, and new emerging countries hope. People need their freedom and their heritage.
How would you feel if you were country-less?
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The quotes from this piece are from the article “The Stateless Nation,” by Yaroslav Trofimov which was published in The Wall Street Journal Review. Trofimov is an author and journalist with his own weekly column in WSJ. He was born in 1969 in Kiev, Ukraine, and studied political science and journalism at NYU. He wrote the book “The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising In Islam’s Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda,” published by Random House. You can read more about his book here, and you can follow him on Twitter at @yarotrof to stay updated on his work about the Greater Middle East.