Friday, August 29, 2008

Democracy Is Alive And Well In Northern Iraq

There is a saying among the Kurds: "No friends but the mountains." The reason for this seems to be due to their past misfortunes brought on by ruler after ruler through the years. Even as recently as Saddam's regime, this pattern continued. Yet, instead of being bitter, they are leaders in changing their country for the better. They believe in a Democratic form of government much like we Americans cherish. Today there is opportunity in the Kurdish section of Iraq. They have preserved their culture, language and way of life. Saddam did great harm to the Kurds but he didn't kill their spirit. He hurt them but thankfully they survived. I was fortunate to have lived amongst them for over a year recently. In this wonderful place, known as Kurdistan, the natives live a happy liberated life now. They are building up their area and providing a better life for their citizens.

Tracing their history, a visit to the land of the Kurds is a trip through Biblical history. The prophets: Nahum, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Daniel are all buried within the vast borders of this land. I was fortunate to have visited the burial grounds of Noah, the Lost Village and waterfalls while living there for over a year recently. After centuries, the people fell to the forces of Alexander, and later became traders along the Silk Road. The Mongols would make them prisoners, the Ottomans who would then make them princes. At the end of WW I, the Kurdish people were finally promised independence. Instead, Kurdistan was parceled out among Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. They are neither Arabs, nor Turks, and certainly not Persians. They are majority Sunni Muslims, but are a different nation indeed. Kurds are a different ethnic group because of that background and because of the suffering they have seen.

They have a completely different outlook. They are accustomed to living with people of many different religions and cultures. As in the days of old, you will find in the hearts of the people, ethnic and religious tolerance. They are a beacon of hope for oppressed people in the Mideast. They are not unkind to others like in other parts of Iraq and other neighboring countries. In Kurdistan, you see churches beside mosques. There are Christians, Armenians, Yezidies, Muslims, and Jews. They are all welcomed as neighbors and friends. They have been living together for ages and this shows how understanding the Kurdish people are.

They don't disrespect people with different religious views or different customs. They treat others the way they expect to be treated. If I had the say, I'd let them rule the rest of the country and I know they would ensure peace and justice for all. Knowing how to create a robust economy is just another aspect that would help improve the livelihood of the new nation. They would instill good will to all the people of Iraq, the way God intended.

John Sprague is an American currently working in the mideast. He enjoys writing and working on his websites in his free time. He has a new site at His website has photos of the mideast and marketing articles that you may be interested in viewing.

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