I have just posted to my website the first Kurdish novel I have read. Its title, which translates as Sufferings of the People explains the title of this post. Sadly, it is not available in English but only French. I own three other Kurdish novels but, again, they are not available in English, only in German. Kurdistan is one of the several nationalities on my website which is not a sovereign state. In 1976, Wildwood House published Michael Zwerin’s A Case for the Balkanization of Practically Everyone. Zwerin was primarily known as a jazz critic and musician but he did write this one interesting book, long since out of print and, I suspect, little known. It basically makes the case for small nations and that is something I am very much in favour of, hence my support of them on my site. There is a good example of such a nation in Thomas Mann’s Königliche Hoheit (Royal Highness), maybe my favourite nation in literature. The Kurds are one such nation who seemed to have lost out in the post-Soviet Union, post-Saddam Hussein, post-Arab Spring world. There are actually thousands of such nations. While the Jews, Poles and Ukrainians may have been the main victims of the Holocaust, peoples such as the Sorbians and Ruthenians (now Rusyns) pretty well got wiped out.
The Kurds in Iraq now have some sort of regional autonomy, though the Kurds are also in Iran, Syria and Turkey, and there is not much chance of those countries giving up territory to form a Kurdistan nation. All of which brings me onto Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens died earlier this week. This is not the place to praise or condemn him. Others have done both far better than I could. However, one thing I would mention is Hitchens’ support of George Bush and Tony Blair’s dirty little war in Iraq. Hitchens supported the war, one of the many reasons he has been condemned, including by me. One of his reasons, however, was his support of the Kurds. He famously had his photo taken with a group of Kurdish fighters (see below).
His support for the Kurds was universally praised , not least because, as sadly so often happens, the new bosses were not a whole lot better than the old bosses. We can argue to death whether it is better to be oppressed by your own kind or colonisers though, obviously, it is better not to be oppressed at all. Hitchens argued that the Kurds did obtain an improvement in their lot after the fall of Saddam Hussein. I am not competent to judge but I will accept that. Sadly, till they obtain full independence with a proper democratic elections, they will still have a lot to fight for. Ahmad’s book shows that the Kurds, like other smaller nations, have suffered a lot. Let’s hope that balkanisation and democratic independence comes their way soon.