News / Middle East

Kurds Have New Hopes Amid Mideast Changes

Kurds Have New Hopes Amid Mideast Changesi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
November 13, 2012 2:54 PM
The upheaval from the "Arab Spring" across the Middle East has given the 30 million Kurds who live mostly in parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran new hopes of their long-held dream of independence. In a series of stories, VOA correspondents in the Middle East and Washington found that Kurdish aspirations are met by a complicated reality on the ground. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky explains.
Kurds Have New Hopes Amid Mideast Changes
The upheaval from the "Arab Spring" across the Middle East has given the 30 million Kurds, who live mostly in parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, new hopes of their long-held dream of independence. In a series of stories, VOA correspondents in the Middle East and Washington found that Kurdish aspirations are met by a complicated reality on the ground.
 
It's lunchtime, and kebabs are on the grill at a newly-opened Kurdish restaurant in the Washington area. 
 
Hekmat Bamarni came here from northern Iraq in the 1970s, and he sits at a table in the restaurant with a man bearing a scar on his forehead from a shrapnel wound. 
 
Both men were Kurdish independence fighters known as Peshmerga, or "those who face death."
 
"As a Kurdish person, yes, we have a dream like everybody else -  like a Turk, Arab, Iranian," Hekmat Bamarni said. "We want independence too." 
 
But Kurds in Iraq and elsewhere have endured harsh crackdowns in pursuit of that dream.
 
As the largest ethnic minority in the Middle East without a state, Kurds at one time depended on an armed insurgency to press their cause. 
 
But the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Arab Spring revolts and other recent events in the Middle East have solidified their political ambitions.  
 
"This is certainly a changing moment and an exciting moment for Kurds and those who study the Kurds because it appears as if those boundaries that were set at the state formation period seem to be breaking away," said Denise Natali, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington. 
 
That seems to be the case in Syria, where Kurds have taken control of much of that country's northeastern tip amid a national anti-government uprising. 
 
Meanwhile in Turkey, Kurds are using unprecedented new freedoms to reverse years of discrimination and alienation.
 
In Iran, the Western crackdown on Tehran over its nuclear ambitions has given Iranian Kurds hope for change.
 
And in Iraq, Kurds have run their own affairs in the northern part of the country since the ouster of Saddam Hussein’s regime. 
 
But Natali said this self-rule has forced Iraqi Kurdish leaders to face geopolitical reality in a landlocked region. 
 
"The survivability of the region depends on open borders, and positive or at least working relations with neighboring states," she said.
 
Natali said the neighboring states often play Kurdish factions off against one other, leaving Kurds alienated and caught in national politics or regional disputes.
 
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said Kurdish leaders themselves often pay lip service to nationalist aspirations as they acknowledge the realities. 
 
"I just came back from Kurdistan," he said. "And certainly among the students, among the professors, among the intellectuals - but not the politicians - there’s this real fear that again we have independence within our grasp and the neighboring powers and our own politicians are going to prevent it from happening because they’re always unable to reach consensus." 
 
But Rubin says the younger generation of Kurds, inspired by their Arab counterparts, are growing increasingly impatient with their political leaders as they see gains that were made in the Arab Spring.
 
And across the Middle East, Kurdish factions are taking steps to control their destinies. 
 

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali from: Turkey
November 21, 2012 7:47 AM
What does KURDISTAN mean? Dont confuse ppl with this type of unreal news! Almost 20 million KURDS lives in TURKEY and at least 19million of them happy to being member of REPUBLIC OF TURKEY! Only terrorists whose their "nickname" are KURDS wants a newland and real aim for that is cut off TURKEY!.. We turks,arabs,christians and kurds are pretty happy to live together in TURKEY. write ur news based on true knowledges!

In Response

by: Dr. Malek Towghi/Tauqee from: USA
November 22, 2012 4:33 AM
A free referendum can easily determine how many Kurds love Turkey. The very name, Turkey, 'the Land of Turks' is irritating and is insulting for the Kurds, Armenians and other Christians and Arabs. Long live the heroic Kurds, For a united, sovereign and free Kurdistan, Malek Towghi, Ph.D., Liaison, Baluch Human Rights International

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid