17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman
COLUMNISTS 5 August 2012, Sunday 28 0
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Why do Arabs remain silent on the Kurdish issue?

As the Arab Spring prepares for the end of another dictator in the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, scenarios for an independent Kurdish state have started to dominate the international agenda.

While Turkey, which is home to roughly half of the Kurdish population in its region, attaches huge significance to the issue, the Arab public prefers to watch the developments in silence.

Just as Turkey has watched many Arab-related issues through the windows of the Western world, the Arab public has followed the Kurdish question from the eyes of the West.

At the same time as Arab newspapers printed stories which suggested that the Turkish army slaughtered Kurds, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, was referred to as a mujahid, or warrior of Islam, in sermons in Arab mosques.

Many Arab academics still think Kurds are under profound pressure in Turkey.

However, Kurds, who make up around one-fifth of Turkey’s population, enjoy equal rights with Turks, Bosnians, Albanians, Arabs or Circassians. Kurds do not face any obstacles in becoming military generals, presidents, prime ministers or bureaucrats.

At least 2 million people born as a result of marriage between Turks and Kurds live in Turkey. And at least one-third of Kurds live in Turkey’s western cities. The largest Kurdish-populated city at present is not Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Qamishli or Diyarbakır. It is İstanbul, which is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Turkey’s Kurds have received their share of atrocities carried out by successive governments against devout Muslims, non-Muslim minorities and Alevis in the past. The state denied that the Kurds had a separate identity for years.

However, at present we cannot say that Kurds are divested of their rights, with the exception of receiving education at schools in their mother tongue. The government is trying to take some steps for schooling in the Kurdish language. And the Turkish public expects these steps to continue.

As a result, Turkey has not fallen behind Western countries in offering rights to citizens who come from different ethnicities. Furthermore, it is probably ahead of some European countries in this sense.

It is an incontestable fact that dictators who ruled the region for more than half a century share the responsibility for the fact that Arabs remain mute about the Kurds’ situation or have wrong perceptions about them. Dictators have preferred to keep silent about Kurds and the Kurdish question, believing that any comment may lead to questioning of their legitimacy by their people.

The second factor that has led Arabs not to speak out about Kurds is the belief in the Arab public that the Kurdish issue is not a serious threat for Arabs. Several Arab regimes, which consider the Shiite identity as the greatest threat to their existence, have watched the steps of Kurds in Iraq, once controlled by Shiites, on the path to independence with joy.

And the third factor is the fact that the Arab public has not yet realized that a Kurdish state being established in the region would ruin all balances of power in the region.

The setting up of an independent Kurdish state would mean the emergence of a conflict or war in which Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria would participate.

And such a conflict or war would have an impact on the entire Middle East, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

For this reason, Arab countries and people should stand by countries which host Kurdish populations against an independent Kurdish state.

The establishment of a new state in the Middle East would spell a serious threat for all other countries in the region. There are potential threats, similar to the establishment of a Kurdish state, in almost all of those countries.

It should also not be forgotten that Arab countries, which band together against Israel, had better know that an independent Kurdish state in the region would mostly serve the purposes of Israel. A Kurdish state would result in the dragging of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, all among the biggest countries of the Middle East, into a war and eventually to the destabilization of the region.

Israel would never desire the existence of a strong country in the region, be it Turkey or Egypt.

The emergence of a Kurdish state as a result of the Arab Spring would be knocking on the door of a new disaster by the countries in the region, similar to the situation with dictatorships in the past.

It is unlikely that a Kurdish state would bring prosperity to Kurds in the region. A Kurdish state established in a region which has no coastline would never become more than the puppet of other powers.

Turks are itching for a war with Greece, war with Cyprus, war with the Kurds. The only thing Turks understand is war. Their soured relations with Israel was all due to the Turks. They wanted to show the Arab nations that the Turks have neo ottoman ambitions in the Middle East. If there is one countr...
Sir, As an Arab, I do agree with your conclusion about the Kurdish state at no cost to the Kurds rights as equal citizens and brothers. However, I do believe, that the conclusion lacks the conceptual framework, which would get the Arab masses onboard. There are factual and scientific factors why we ...
I would like to thank to the Arab brothers who commented below, for their symphathy despite C. Onal's attempts of provocation.
Kurd Kurdson
Bekar, more like the kurds shouldn't test the patience of the Turks.
kurd kurdson, thank you to the Iraqi/Iranian/Syrian kurds who write comments on a TURKISH news site so we can see what sick nationalists you are (for a people who have never been a nation in history, lol) even though you are living off of welfare in European ghettos. By the way, these "Islamists" a...
Nadim Kaakati, well you just did by referring to PKK terrorists as your "Muslim brothers".
This is the kind of dumbed down racism you can expect from most people you meet who have been raised and educated in Turkey. An education so dim it seems that even supposedly intelligent and articulate people turn out as bigots of the most nasty kind. Then again the poor things also have to serve in...
Tehliki yabanci
I hope all Turks do not think like the author, if they do so, then they have very poor confidence. You should realize that kurds must get their freedom soon or later. Come on you can do better than that.
I really like to see the "Turk-Islam sentezci"s and the Neo-Ottomanists writing in English because that way the international community can witness their sick mindsets. Thank you Cumali, thank you todayszaman.com
Kurd Kurdson
very little in the way of analysis, just a short intro into the politics of Turkey, which are not really subtle either... We get it, turkey is bargaining with those dictatorial democracy lovers of the Gulf to oppose giving rights to Kurds if Turkey is going to help them with Iran and Syria... But yo...
I don't know which "Arab" mosque refer to Abdullah Ocallan as "Mujahed". Abdullah Ocallan is a Communist/Allawite, and no mosque will refer to him as Mujahid. I think you are mixing him with sallah-E-deen the Moslem Kurd who liberated Palestine. As for a Kurdish state posing a threat to the whole...
Nadim Kaakati
The Arabs are quite about a lot in Middle East, take the Palestenians as a good example. The Palestenians are at times treated by their own Arab kin as source of cheap labour, sad but true. As long as oil revenues keep the Arab elite in power, their loyalities lie in their own pockets.
Last year 7000 Kurdish politicians were put in prison for wearing Kurdish cloths, writing in Kurdish, speaking Kurdish or simply being Kurdish. Turkey have put over a 1000 kurdish children in prison. And still there is no Kurdish media or education in Kurdish. Turkey is worst than Iran and Syria in ...
Why arabs support Greek Cypriots and Israel when it comes to Iran's nuclear power program,even though Turkey
We rather becoming a puppet state, then being divided over four and wrecked...
The author has got it right. Only Kurds who have a dream of having a separate state cannot see that they will be used. The notion of a Kurdish state for a Kurd is important but they seem to not understand that in order to do so, means they have to grab this territory for a existing state which will...
Scottish people are voting on the independence issue in 2014. Last time they voted to stay within the UK. Catalans gained regional autonomy which appears to be working within Spain. How about every government in the world allowing their ethnic minorities to have a free vote? This would resolve most ...
How long can you suppress the wish of Kurds for independence?
i agree with Azadi i think u are racist and funny. instead of calling Erdogan to make more move towards the kurds u clearly try to turn arabs against the turks. sorry u not ganna succced. it the time 4 kurds to rise and get their freedom.
Shorasha Ne
its a fact that Kurds have a historical land in the Middle East and unique identity.i want to say u should manage ur political plans on the existence of an independent Kurdish state and it will be helpful for the future of Turkish government.racial ideologies one day will be destroyed.be sure about ...
'....had better know that an independent Kurdish state in the region would mostly serve the purposes of Israel. ' What UTTER NONSENSE. How do you Mr Onal 'know' that the Kurds will serve Israel. This is particularly hilarious comment coming from a man who's country has a signed alliance with Israel...
not far behind european countries? how many kurdish kids are in jail for throwing rocks? -thousands. what is the avarage prison term? a decade. how does that compare to european countries? how does that compare to israel? ill tell you how: israel holds maybe 20-30 kids on these charges for periods o...
A." A Kurdish state established in a region which has no coastline would never become more than the puppet of other powers " - what about Palestine which will have no coastline ?. B. You are wrong, Israel think that the existence of Turkey
Ben Yacob
your mind is stuck in darkness of history and dont pride your self as thinker and planer of middle Eastern future visionary politician, you nothing but a rat who feeds on carcass of dead history.
Tahir Fatah
We (Sunni Arabs) are not silent on the Kurdish issue. There should be a Kurdish state.Turkish Nationalism, like Arab Nationalism, like Kurdish Nationalism is a "cancer" injected into the heart of the Muslim world. Simple and plain! Turkey,Syria, Jordan, north Iraq and West Iraq, should unite into on...
Ahmed; Aleppo, Syria
Dear Cumali Onal,do you see any similarities to the Cyprus problem? Why the Turkish state and public opinion there pursue a different approach when it comes to Cyprus and the problems associated with the Turkish Cypriot minority?They make up the 18% of the population and yet want their own separate ...
A well written article stating the future of new Middle East. However you miss one important part,the failure of the leadership to control events and inability to read writing on the wall. Tofflers predicted in nineties that information empowerment of the masses would make governance difficult,lack ...
waqar khan
Mr. Onal, your racism isnt even hidden. It is yypical Turkish racism. Arabs got out of it, but you couldn't. The only treat a Kurdish state is to imperialist Turks which for a century dined the existence of Kurds. These people are afraid of loosing the power to continue suppressing Kurds. What kind ...
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