The Kurdish Lobby
KurdishMedia.com - By Zeki Amedi
I do not know Mr. Qubad Talabani in person, but he has certainly impressed many in the American Kurdish community with his modesty as the head of the KRG office in the United States. His commentary piece, The Kurdish Lobby, published on his personal blog, impressed me because the idea of establishing a Kurdish lobby in the US is absent from the thinking of KDP and PUK officials.
The influence of any community in Western nations and Third-World nations is measured in different ways. In democratic nations like the United States, it is measured by extent to which the community is adapted to the new society. In the Third-World nations, it is measured by wealth and the ability to bribe government officials.
It is not surprising to see the Arab community in the United States failing to build an effective lobby, despite the lucrative gains from oil exports, because it failed to adapt to the Western culture. It is continuing to remain confined to a culture of hatred to the West, which they picked up from their homelands. The present generations are inheriting the same culture to the future generations, as their majority sympathizes with anyone opposing the US, even if they are criminals like Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.
The common denominator among the Armenian, Jewish and Kurdish communities in America is their subject to genocides. The Armenian and Jewish communities are fundamentally different from the Kurdish community, for they belong to different cultures.
The Jews migrated to Europe centuries ago, and they positively reacted with Europeans. They eventually adopted a civilized European identity, where scientist and inventors appeared in the same community. Some of them migrated to the US along the European immigrants and supported the US in many aspects. Because of the virtue of the European Jews who migrated to Israel, the later became the first democratic state to emerge in the Middle East. If the process of building the Israeli state had depended on the Eastern Jews, Israel would have been no different from the Arab states.
The Jewish Lobby in the United States has an easy burden, which is lobbying for the right of Israel to exist. Then, of course, lobbying for support to Israel so the later is able to resist the Arab states that basically aim to remove Israel from the map. The Jewish lobby doesn’t interfere in the Israeli politics by supporting a certain leader in Israel. It simply lobbies for the right of a civilized state to exist, a state governed by a truly elected government, not a state governed by political parties armed with militias and drowning with uncontrollable administrative corruption.
The Armenian community has also adapted to the Western culture, with regard to the length of time they have lived in the West. The Armenian community is realistic in their approach. They don’t consider themselves as a lobby for the Armenian Republic, which gained independence as after the collapse of the USSR. They also don’t embarrass themselves to defend the shortcomings of the Armenian government.
In order for a lobby to be effective, it must put the interests of its new country (i.e., the United States) above other considerations. They must understand and closely follow the American values when dealing with developments in the world’s affairs to be able pressure the US government through the American values.
The American Kurdish community is newly-migrated to the West and has so far failed to adapt to the Western culture. It hasn’t changed, not even in its tribal traditions. The American Kurds are loyal to Kurdistan, but their understanding to loyalty is within the context of absolute submission to the orders of the two principal parties, KDP and PUK: Their activities unite when the two parties unite, and they exchange the cheapest accusations when the two parties oppose to each other.
What made me pause for a second was Mr. Qubad’s call on American Kurds to put the interests of Kurdistan above anything else. Such a commitment requires kicking aside the narrow partisan interests for the sake of Kurdistan. The reality shows a different portrait. Because the American Kurdish community is intellectually non-independent like the Jewish and the Armenian communities, as the American Kurdish community is still captive to the policies of the Kurdish parties, it has failed to form an independent policy, which reflects its views in seeking general interests. Ironically, the American Kurds have interacted with two different cultures, a fact that always broadens humankind’s vision on developments to press for change when noticing a diversion from the American standards of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
If the leaders of the two parties do not put Kurdistan first, why should we expect the followers of the two parties to put Kurdistan first? In this case, such a commitment will require the followers to violate the policies of their parties for national interests.
If the two parties adhered to the general interests of Kurdistan, it was unnecessary to divide power in half back in 1992, which is absolutely inimical to the central tenets of democratic elections. It was unnecessary to cancel the second round of elections to choose the president of the region, as it was apparent which candidate was going to win. The losing party must have accepted the results, even if the other party had won with the margin of one vote. If the two parties put Kurdistan first, there is no need for two separate governments, which still continue to remain disunited despite unity due to the narrow party interests. If Kurdistan was put first, there was no need to divide power and privileges. The right person would serve in the right place, despite his/her political beliefs. If the leaders of the two parties had put Kurdistan first, it is unnecessary to enter into an abnormal strategic alliance to divide power. One of the parties must have been in government, and the other one must have acted as opposition.
So is Mr. Qubad’s call to put Kurdistan first an attempt to rebel on the policies of the two parties and establish himself as an independent personality, or are they simply non-intended and repetitive clichés?
Zeki Amedi is an independent American Kurdish intellectual