Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Middle East has been experiencing profound political changes. Prior to the uprising in Tunisia, no one believed that the Arab dictators, who ruled their nations with an iron fist for decades, would be overthrown so quickly.
The contagious revolutionary waves may also pull the red carpet from underneath the feet of the remaining dictators in Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. These developments have created an atmosphere of hope for the millions of Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Ironically, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Party of Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) have applied an obsolete and ineffective method for battling two regional super powers — Turkey and Iran — through armed struggle, a move that is rather imprudent at this time.
Undoubtedly, the Kurds are obliged to continue their struggle for the freedom of their homeland. However, the global and regional political conditions should be taken into consideration when evaluating the methods for achieving this objective.
Today, politics in the Middle East is defined by civil resistance and mass protests, and demonstrators have gained the sympathy and support of the international community. The Kurds must adopt similar tactics and learn from the methods that have proven effective.
For instance, they should study and implement Gandhi’s passive resistance techniques and wisdom, which was projected in his words as he preached to his followers, “I am asking you to fight! To fight against their anger, not to provoke it. We will not strike a blow, but we will receive them…But we cannot lose. We cannot.”
Moreover, the Kurdish leadership must understand the power of Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent direct action. He eloquently expressed the logic in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “…Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
Gandhi and King’s insights about the powers of non-violent and passive resistance empowered them to liberate their people; in today’s political climate, the Kurdish leadership ought to apply the same techniques, specifically in Turkey’s Kurdistan.
The momentum of anti-government demonstrators in Syria has risen daily. It is obvious that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his Baath regime in Damascus will face the same fate as former Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi. Every clue indicates that their days are numbered.
Therefore, it is a golden opportunity for the Kurds of Syria to unite and mobilize themselves to protect Kurdish interests in any future government in Damascus.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leadership should focus on formulating a strategy to help the Syrian Kurds to organize and prepare themselves to establish a federal Kurdish region, as it will further empower Kurdish aspirations in all parts of Kurdistan.
The current attacks on Turkey and Iran by the PKK and its offshoot, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) are counterproductive. They have helped to unite Turkey and Iran and gain the sympathy and support of the United States and other world powers.
As a result, these attacks have led to the continuous bombing of villages in Iraqi Kurdistan and rebels bases in the Qandil Mountains under the pretext of combating terrorism. Moreover, the current crisis is also endangering the hard-fought achievements of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Kurds will be more effective at this point in time if they embrace a nonviolent civil disobedience movement. They should focus on mobilizing the Kurdish masses to ignite a civil resistance movement on the streets of Diyarbakir, Batman, Dersim, Hakari, Bingol, Merdin, Istanbul, Qamishlo, Amude, Kermanshah, Urmya, Mohabad and Sinne.
The Kurdish leadership is obliged to take measures so that their enemies can’t justify retaliatory strikes in the name of fighting terrorism. They must learn from the winds of freedom that have brought the Arab Spring to the Arab World – as well as from Gandhi and Dr. Kings’s wisdom of nonviolent and passive resistance, which can spark the Kurdish Autumn.
* Delovan Barwari is from Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. He served as a Liaison for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Global Affairs at the University of Denver, Colorado. He has made numerous contributions to various Kurdish media outlets.