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A People without a Country

Éditeur : Zed Books Date & Lieu : 1993, London
Préface : David McDowall Pages : 260
Traduction : Michael Pallis ISBN : 1856491943
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 150x225 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Ang. 3581Thème : Histoire

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
A People without a Country



The 16 million Kurds are the largest nation in the world with no state of their own. Their history is one of constant revolts and bloody repression, massacres, deportations and renewed insurrection.

This classic collection of writings from Kurdish intellectuals and other internationally respected experts discusses the origins of Kurdish nationalism and analyzes their contemporary demand for autonomy in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis and the setting up of safe havens.

It combines historical analysis of the Kurds under the Ottoman Empire with a thorough study of Kurdish life in all areas of Kurdistan—Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the former Soviet Union. Later sections cover recent Kurdish history with emphasis on the Iraqi Kurds, and the Kurdish movement in Turkey. Also included is an assessment of "Operation Provide Comfort" and the failure of the U.S. and international law to develop an adequate response to the Kurdish crisis following the Gulf War


Towards the end of March 1991 over one and a half million Kurds fled across the snow-clad mountains of Kurdistan in search of safety from the forces of Saddam Hussein. Had it not been for television, these fugitives would probably now be either dead or refugees bereft ofhope outside Iraq. For it was television news bulletins which brought the horrific ordeal of the Kurds into homes across Europe and America. And it was the outrage of ordinary people at Saddam Hussein's onslaught and at the Allies' passivity, which finally compelled Western governments to provide protection to the Kurds inside Iraq.

Television created a powerful image of Kurdistan in the popular imagination of the West, in a way that a succession of uprisings in Iraq, Turkey and Iran had previously failed to do. When Iraq repeatedly used gas against the Kurds in 1987-88, there was insufficient television coverage to mobilize public opinion. Even after Halabja in March 1988, where at least 5,000 perished, and after the final Iraqi offensive the following August, Security Council members and other states avoided offending Iraq and its Arab allies for fear of damaging their economic and political interests in the region. When Kurds reported in 1989 that over 3,000 villages and towns had been razed by Saddam Hussein, they were treated with skepticism, as if Western governments could not easily have verified such assertions by satellite photography. When it was possible for journalists to travel through Kurdistan in spring 1991, the truth of Kurdish claims was belatedly confirmed. Since then, credence has also been given to Kurdish claims that 200,000 or more men, women and children were liquidated in the infamous anfal operations, 1987-88.

Although they currently enjoy Allied protection, the Kurds of Iraq lack any guarantees for the future. If Turkey refuses to renew the six monthly agreement whereby the Allied aircraft use Incirlik airbase, the Kurds will lose their protection and Saddam Hussein will be tempted to attack them again.

As time passes and the public begins to forget about them, the Kurds feel more vulnerable. For without public interest, Western governments may feel able quietly to withdraw from what may seem like a political quagmire. It should be remembered that Western governments have only involved themselves in the tragedy of Kurdistan with reluctance. They do not wish to see the integrity of either Turkey or Iraq (not to mention other countries where Kurdish minorities exist) compromised by Kurdish separatism.

There are a number of reasons why it is crucial that public opinion should remain well-informed and vigilant about the Kurdish situation. At the humanitarian level a clear moral responsibility rests upon the electorates of parliamentary democracies to ensure that their governments are responsive to the humanitarian dimension of international affairs. It is public silence which permits reluctant governments to disregard international responsibilities, and informed and articulate public opinion which goads them into action.

Then there is the question of international law and norms of behavior. The West allowed Iraq to violate with impunity the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and (arguably) the 1948 Geneva Convention on Genocide with regard to its Kurds. When agreed international standards and conventions are not upheld they are inevitably weakened. Governments should not be allowed to collude with violators in the erosion of these standards. Once again, when governments fail to act, it is the public which must persuade them to take law observance seriously. The story of Kurdistan, like that of Palestine, demonstrates all too clearly the tragic consequences of inertia.

Finally, there is the political dimension. The Kurds claim the right to self- determination. Whether one supports the idea of an independent Kurdish state or of guaranteed autonomy arrangements for areas where the Kurds form a clear majority, it is vital that the international community helps the parties concerned find a peaceful and productive formula whereby approximately 23 million Kurds can play a full part in the development of the Middle East.

At the time of the 1991 Peace Conference, one senior British official forecast with great prescience that "failure to deal adequately with the Kurdish question will leave a permanent sore threatening forever the peace of the Middle East." His warning was not heeded at the time, and has subsequently been tragically fulfilled Can this running sore now be healed? In Turkey the growing disaffection of over 10 million Kurds threatens a destructive inter-communal conflict unless a process of reconciliation and political rearrangement can be embarked upon. External encouragement in that process remains crucial. In Iraq, the failure to bring the government and its Kurds into peaceful coexistence may lead to even greater humanitarian tragedies than those already experienced. It is too easy to assume that once Saddam Hussein is removed, the Kurds will be able to resolve their problems with a successor government. This is open to question.

The problems which exist between governments and the Kurds, be it in Turkey, Iraq, Iran or elsewhere, cannot be lightly dismissed in simplistic denunciations. The bases of mutual distrust are longstanding and complex. If these problems are to be resolved, as they must be for any process of peaceful conciliation, it is likely that this will be partly because the Kurdish question is better and more widely understood. It is for this reason that this new edition of A People without a Country is vitally important.

David McDowall

Table des Matières


Foreword by David McDowall / xi

Introduction by Gerard Chaliand / 1
Minorities Without Rights / 1
Public Opinion and the Minorities / 3
The History of the Kurdish Movement / 4
The Weaknesses of the Kurdish National Movement / 8

1. The Kurds under the Ottoman Empire by Kendal / 11
From Ottoman Cosmopolitanism to Ethnic Nationalisms / 11
The Origins of the Kurdish National Movement / 14
The Status of Kurdistan
"Feudal" Kurdistan
The 19th Century Uprisings / 17
The Baban Revolt
Mir Mohammed's Attempted Conquest of Kurdistan
Bedir Khan Bey's Revolt
Yezdan Sher (Yesdan the Lion)
The Revolt of 1880 (Sheikh Obeidullah)
The Pan-Islamic and Assimilationist Policies of Abdulhamid II, the Red Sultan / 24
The First Kurdish National Organizations / 26
The First World War / 29
The Post-War Years / 30
The Treaty of Sevres / 33

2. Kurdistan in Turkey by Kendal / 38
General Overview / 38
Territory and Population
Education and Culture
Economic and Social Structures
Kurdistan under the Turkish Bourgeois Republic / 45
The Turkish War of Independence (1919-23) and the Kurds The Colonial Carve-up of Kurdistan
The Great Revolts of the Twenties and Thirties
Some Reflections on Kemalism
The Quiet Years
The Democratic and Socialist Movement in Turkey, 1961-70
The Various Forms of National Oppression / 72
Cultural Oppression
Political Oppression
Physical Repression
The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey through 1980 / 79
Changes in Kurdish Society
Changes in Kurdish Nationalism A Movement in Full Swing Efforts Towards Organization
The Turkish Political Parties and the Kurdish Question
Some Concluding Remarks

3. Kurdistan in Iran by A. R. Ghassemlou / 95
The Kurds of Iran / 95
A Geographical Overview The Population
Language and Literature Education
Economic Conditions
The Kurdish Tribe and its Development
The Social Structure
An Historical Overview / 104
From the Battle of Chaldiran to the Second World War
The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad
The Vicissitudes of Twenty Years of History
The Armed Struggle of 1967-68
Kurdistan in Iran and the Kurdish National Movement in Iraq, 1961-75
Kurdistan in Iran Before the Fall of the Shah / 113
The Shah's Policy in Iranian Kurdistan
The Positions Taken on the Kurdish Question by the Various Forces of the Political Opposition in Iran
The Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran
The Preconditions for Success

4. The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad by Archie Roosevelt, Jr. / 122
Formation of the Komala / 123
Soviet Infiltration / 125
The Democratic Party of Kurdistan / 127
The Kurdish People's Government / 128
Relations with Tabriz and Tehran / 129
Character of Qazi Mohammed and the Kurdish Republic 132
Anti-Soviet Sentiment / 133
Opposition of the Tribes / 134
Re-establishment of Iranian Control / 135
In Summary / 136

5. Kurdistan in Iraq by Ismet Sheriff Vanly / 139
Introduction / 139
Geographic and Demographic Features
Historical Background
The War of Liberation, 1961-74 / 149
From 1961 to the 1970 Agreement
The March 11, 1970 Agreement and the "Period of Transition" Discrimination and Economic Exploitation in Kurdistan
The Project for an Autonomous Kurdistan Collapses
The Fifth Kurdistan War

The Algiers Agreement and the Reasons for the Disaster / 167
Baghdad's Policy in Kurdistan / 177
Roads to Servitude
The Guerrilla War Resumes
The Morals of the Iraqi Baath
Poor People's Colonialism 189

6. The Kurds in Syria by Mustafa Nazdar / 194
The Kurds in Medieval Syria / 196
The "Legal" and "Ideological" Basis for Oppression / 198
The Burden of Oppression / 200

7. The Kurds in the Soviet Union by Kendal / 202
Population / 202
Historical Outline / 204
Economic and Social Situation / 205
Cultural Life / 206

8. Iranian Kurds under Ayatollah Khomeini by Gerard Chaliand / 211

9. The Two Gulf Wars: The Kurds on the World Stage, 1979-1992 by Kamran Karadaghi / 214
Foundation of Parties / 218
The Iran-Iraq War / 220
The Road to the Kurdish Front / 223
Chemical Weapons and "Anfal" / 224
Exile / 226
The Second Gulf War / 228

10. Operation Provide Comfort: False Promises to the Kurds by Bill Frelick / 241
Eurocentric World Order / 232
Double Standards / 233
No New Day / 235
Disparate Treatment / 236

11. Turkey's Kurds After the Gulf War: A Report from the Southeast by Aliza Marcus / 238
Development of the PKK / 241
The Gulf War and After / 243
Chronology / 248
Bibliography / 254
Index / 257

Regions Populated by the Kurds / ix
The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad, 1946 / 124
Iraqi Kurdistan / 141

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