Kurds in Sulaimani stage a peaceful protest against measures imposed by Baghdad in response to the independence referendum last September. File photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
Kurdish nationalists have come to find themselves under fire from different forces, especially since the September 2017 independence referendum, for walking the line of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and described as stooges and blind followers of that party’s agenda.
They are vilified as having sold themselves and their principles and blamed for the political calamities and deterioration of ties with Baghdad after the referendum.
It can’t be denied that the KDP is currently the one party leading the nationalist rhetoric both at home and in dealing with Baghdad. But it has become the norm of the day to attack and malign anyone speaking of Kurdish independence and regard them agents of the KDP even if someone has been a historical critic of that party but now happens to agree on one thing.
It is not only local Kurdish parties or individuals waging this kind of war. Iraqi politicians and ordinary citizens too now classify the Kurds into the two categories of “Good Kurds” and “Bad Kurds”. Bad Kurds are those who speak of an independent state and good Kurds are those who want to remain part of “the beloved Iraq.”
This is wrong on so many levels. At the first glance it discredits Kurdish nationalism—existing long before the KDP was conceived—and touting them as mouthpieces of a certain party.
In reality many Kurdish nationalists have been anti-KDP, anti-PUK, and blamed them for why Kurdistan isn’t independent. To dismiss such people as KDP agents is unfair, and belittles their actual efforts to end the monopoly of two parties on the politics of the Kurdistan Region.
It is also unfair to others to associate all Kurdish nationalism with the KDP or just one party and disregard the work and struggle of others throughout history for a free and an independent Kurdistan which may not be less than that of the KDP if not on the same scale.
Parties such as the Change Movement (Gorran), the Islamic League (Komal) and others have wrongly thrown away any talk of Kurdish nationalism because they equate it with corruption, oil money and political monopoly.
Acting like this and with this mindset they simply give the helm of Kurdish nationalism to the KDP and PUK—those they oppose—on a silver plate.
It also serves the enemies of Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad who have spared no effort to discredit Kurdish national aspirations by every means possible.
It is this very nationalism that led to the creation of the autonomous Kurdistan Region and a breathing space for political parties to operate and voice their grievances.
The other Kurdish parties need to come back to their sense and drop their anti-Kurdish nationalism rhetoric and know that it isn’t the invention of the KDP alone or any one party.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.