AFP file photo of Kurdish forces at a base northwest of Mosul.
By Polla Garmiany
As the war with the so-called Islamic State continues, there are Kurdish voices demanding that the Peshmerga forces stay out of an upcoming fight for the city of Mosul due to its allegedly Arab character.
There is no question that today the majority population of the city is Arab, following the Arabization of Kurdish lands during the reign of Saddam Hussein and those of his predecessors.
While each step forward by the Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, Kobane and Shingal is highly lauded by the Kurds, it appears that their involvement in the fight for Mosul is undesired and unwanted by some.
On social media sites Kurdish youngsters post comments like, “Don’t spill Kurdish blood for an Arab city!” or “Let Arabs fight for Arab cities and Kurds for Kurdish cities.”
But have such commentators never heard about the Kurdish city of Mosul? Do they not know about a Kurdish population ever living there?
Barely a century ago, in 1923, the Turkish Lausanne Commission provided demographic figures for the city, reporting that up to 50 percent of the population was Kurdish. In contrast, there were just about 13 percent Arabs and the remaining 37 percent Jews, Turkmens, Assyrians and Chaldeans.
It is correct that the demography of Mosul has changed during the last decades, but does that make it a non-Kurdish city? Do Kurds accept the forced Arabization of cities like Kirkuk or Qamishli? And do they accept the suppression of their culture elsewhere in Kurdistan?
One has to remember the Kurdish request for an independent state in 1938 at the League of Nations meeting in Geneva, where Kurdish representatives handed in a map that included the city of Mosul. The same request was also made in 1945 at the San Francisco Conference, held by the UNO. And one has to remember that to this day there is an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, serving the people of Kurdistan in this very city.
But apart from all this, there are innocent people living in this city, held by a brutal terrorist organization which is anything but religious. All these people — Kurds and non-Kurds, Muslims, Christians and Yezidis — hope for a non-sectarian force to rescue them.
The involvement of Peshmerga forces in the fight for Mosul would not be just a fight for a so-called Arab city or a fight for the Kurdish population of an ancient city with a very Kurdish character and deep Kurdish roots. It would be a fight for all the righteous and innocent people of Mosul, regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Moreover, it should be acknowledged that a participation in the fight for Mosul would not just help the city’s population: it would also enhance and strengthen the Kurdish position in later negotiations between Erbil and Bagdad concerning the disputed areas in Iraq, or even on a potential Kurdish independence.
Therefore, it is important for the Peshmerga — including the Assyrian and Chaldean battalions — to join the fight for Mosul and help the struggling Iraqi forces free this ancient and great city from the terrorist “Islamic State.”
An intervention would not just help the Kurds physically and politically, it would also confirm the Peshmergas’ image as a freedom force fighting for the innocent and oppressed people of the region.
The writer is a Kurdish student at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Gemany.
The views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.