The Kurdish Globe
By Abdulhamid Zebari
Erbil hosted a conference last week for leading writers and academics of the Arab world. More than 120 Arab writers participated in the gathering entitled Arab Gathering in Support of the Kurdish Case.
The conference managers said the gathering was intended to rally support for the Kurdish case not only in Iraq but also in neighboring Iran, Syria and Turkey.
In the past, Iraqi Kurdistan has been a safe haven for many Iraqi Arab dissidents and guerilla fighters including current Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki who lived and studied in Erbil for years.
Between 1960s and 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis representing almost all ethnic groups and religions were subjected to mass killings and imprisonment.
Kurdish President, Masoud Barzani who attended the conference said most of the Arab world was not aware of "the magnitude of the systematic destruction" committed against the Kurds. Barzani said he hoped Arab writers would "tell the story of the crimes" perpetrated against Kurds.
The Iraqiya coalition with 91 seats in the Parliament, has been critical of the Iraqi government supporting the Kurdish demands for more power to other Iraqi entities.
Addressing the Arab intellectuals, Barzani said: "Iraq is united as long as federalism is respected." He said he would follow all the ways to solve problems "in democratic and fraternal ways and with a language of dialogue."
The conference was held under the theme: Democratic Freedoms, Civil and Constitutional life, and respecting the right of self-determination for peoples are the guarantees of national fraternity and co-existence in the Middle East.
During the opening session a group of young people wearing Kurdish clothes distributed roses to the audience encrypted <'Do not forget the victims of Kurdistan, We love life like you, we love all our friends", and the famous song of "Long Live Kurds and Arabs, Symbol of Struggle" of the Iraqi singer Jaafar Hassan was sung by both Arab and Kurdish attendees.
Kathim Habib, the Iraqi Academic and the secretary general of the Arab Gathering in support of the Kurdish case said that there are several important tasks ahead of them to work on, among which are: addressing the existing problems between the federal government and the regional government according to the Constitution through a setting a number of laws governing the relationship between the two governments in Erbil and Baghdad.
Habeeb also mentioned that the gathering seeks possible ways to "defend and show solidarity with Kurdish people in achieving their fair demands, especially the right to self-determination and work for the solidarity of struggle between the Kurdish people and those people who live with them in the four countries where people of Kurdistan are residing."
The Lebanese Arab intellectual, Hani Fahs, said the Arab intellectuals and writers can play a significant role in the presenting the fair Kurdish case to the Arab peoples and the Arab street, criticizing "the Arab silence" in the past about what grievances Kurds have faced.
While the Iraqi academic and former Minister of Planning at the Iraqi government, Mahdi Hafiz, emphasized that intellectuals represent the flame of future, stressing the importance of this conference delivering the Kurdish case to the Arab street.
Hafiz said "The policy of tyranny is continuous and they picture Kurds as mountains inhabitants who enjoy no rights. These are major problems Kurdish people faced in the past."
Layla Maghrabi, a Moroccan thinker and researcher from Amazigh origins, thinks that the gathering came on time and that the Kurdish question and Kurds know that there are significant changes, especially at the Arab world level.
Regarding the reason why the Kurdish case has not been presented to the Arab public, Layla said "There are several reasons, the most prominent one is media and because of the conditions the Kurdish people went through and the media that was controlled by the political forces in the Arab homeland so the Kurdish case has not been presented to us as it deserved.
The Moroccan researcher asserts that it is now the time for the Kurds to hold such conferences or the possibility of establishing a common media board from Kurdish and Arab journalists to explain and show the Kurdish case to the Arab street.