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Re: [casi] [Fwd: Harvest time: occupier vs. occupied

Dear Hassan, Elga and list

If I understand Hassan correctly, he is saying that Kurds have no right to
the land they lost through President Hussein's Arabization policy because
the Kurds took the land from the Arabs in the first place, over two thousand
years ago. I find it difficult to believe that that is what he is saying but
I can't seem to make any other meaning out of it.

Nor do I really understand the strength of feeling behind Elga Sutter's
reaction. Elga seems to be saying that because the Kurds supprted the
Americans they are a contemptible people and it doesn't matter what happens
to them. It is certainly one of the tragedies of the world that oppressed
peoples tend to look to Imperialist powers to help them out of their
difficulties. I thought the Kurdish identification with the US was foolish
and shortsighted, but then I am looking at the thing from a  distance.
Unlike Alexander Sternberg, who knows the place, and the people, very well.

The main point Alexander was making is that there is a convention by which
you grab whatever land you can but when the rightful owner returns you know
you have to leave and you don't make a fuss about it. The main question to
ask about that is whether or not its true. And whether or not its true that
the Kurds are leaving long established Arabs undisturbed. If it is true its
a very interesting and worthwhile observation. Human nature being what it
is, it seems to me to be unlikely and I would like to get other views on the
subject. Preferably from people - and there aren't many of them - who know
the situation on the ground as well as Alexander Sternberg.


> From: Hassan Zeini <>
> Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 03:50:55 -0700 (PDT)
> To: CASI <>
> Subject: Re: [casi] [Fwd: Harvest time: occupier vs. occupied
> Elga has saved me the trouble of posting a long reply
> to Alexander Sternberg's message. I will only address
> his use of words...
> From the European Journal of International Law
> "Tracing their origin back to the Medes who conquered
> Nineveh in 612 BC, the Kurds assert that they are a
> distinct nation which has never really acquired
> political independence. It is more likely that the
> ancestors of the Kurds came from several sources; some
> from Turkic, Armenian, or Assyrian tribes, but most
> probably from Indo-European groups. While the Kurds
> have a north-western Iranian linguistic origin in
> common, they are separated by two major dialects with
> considerable local variation and a number of
> sub-dialects, which seems to make communication
> between the various tribes and regions difficult,
> though possible. Tribal structures have traditionally
> dominated Kurdish society and continue to do so to a
> remarkable extent. A clear national identity began to
> emerge in a class of urban Kurdish intellectuals in
> the second half of the 19th century, but tribalism as
> well as regional and feudal loyalities stood in the
> way of its development on a broad scale. Thus, in
> practice, the Kurds never achieved unity in their
> struggle for independence against foreign domination,
> but remained always at least as much involved in
> fighting each other as combatting Turkish, Iraqi or
> Iranian troops."
> Thus when one talks of "occupied" and "occupier", one
> has to understand history first. Failure to do so
> would expose the ignorance and fake intellectuality.
> The Kurds themselves believe they only came to area in
> 612 BC. By then, the whole area was already inhabited
> by different Semitic groups and tribes, and the
> Semites had already ruled large parts of the area and
> established different civilizations.
> Which takes us to the issue of who the Semites are.
> No two historians disagree that the Semites existed in
> Arabia for at least 10 000 years; some go as far as
> saying that the Semites existed there for almost 100
> 000 years!
> By the end of the last Ice period, when the Arabian
> Peninsula started drying up, those tribes moved
> eastwards and westwards seeking water and vegetation.
> They found that on the shores of the Euphrates in the
> East, and the Nile in the West. Thus started the
> world's earliest and greatest civilizations.
> In Mesopotamia, historians now believe that although
> the oldest civilization may be the non-Semitic
> Sumerian, the Semites existed there before the
> Sumerians came to the area, seemingly from the north?
> Those Semites were ARABS, having come from Arabia,
> with languages that belong to the same family as
> Arabic.
> And so we come to Mr. Alexander Sternberg's message
> and his selective use of words and lack of knowledge
> of history..
> The Kurds are, by their own admission, "occupiers" of
> land that is not theirs, regardless of the fact that
> that occupation occurred two millennia ago.. Mr.
> Sternberg did not specify a time limit to when the
> occupation should have occurred. Or has he??
> The oldest inhabitants of the land are Arabs; a fact
> that even Mr. Sternberg would not dare challenge.
> Alexander Sternberg says "Stifling the right-of-return
> in a manner perceived to maintain the status quo is
> just not on. The occupiers know who they are. The
> occupied know who they are. The fault line is clear.
> Pressure is building that could be released through
> earthquakes or through harmonic tremors, to use
> volcanology terms."
> I fully agree. I suggest Mr. Sternberg tells that to
> the Israelis; to the Europeans in North and South
> America; to the Turks in Anatolia (now Turkey); to the
> Turks in Cyprus; to the English in Ireland; to the
> Turks in Iskenderun (Alexandretta); to the Iranians in
> the Arab islands in the Gulf and in Arabstan; to the
> British in Gibraltar and the Falklands, etc..
> These are all cases of clear occupations by foreign
> forces of lands that are not theirs. So why did
> Alexander Sternberg chose the wrong example of Iraqi
> Kurdistan for his crusade??
> This is not the time to discuss the history and nature
> of the Kurdish movement in Iraq, and I doubt that
> Alexander Sternberg would be interested in hearing
> anything that does not agree with his opinions.
> Alexander Sternberg states: "Third party intervention
> into prevailing environments could generate
> undesirable and avoidable consequences."
> I fully agree. If only he would follow his own advice
> and let Iraqis decide their fate without intervention
> by people like him in their affairs..
> Best
> HZ
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