Apr 15, 2016

Iranian Kurdistan: Armed Struggle Not the Answer to Oppression

A changed political landscape and demographic in Iranian Kurdistan means the people there are no longer willing to support armed resistance. Enhanced technology and communication have made them less susceptible to unrealistic or romanticized images of political groups. They are more inclined to recognize that the true victims of such struggles are often by and large the ordinary people of the region. Political groups should take note of these shifts and seek to align their political agenda with this new paradigm. 


Below is an opinion piece published by Rudaw:

An Iranian Kurdish leader once said of their armed struggle in Iran that they used to sneak into villages in the middle of the night, gather everyone in the village mosque and lecture them on the evilness of the regime and the glories of their own fight.

That Peshmerga leader who was an intellectual at the same time, admitted that their mistake was that they did not try to go into those villages and listen to people about their daily lives, their challenges and needs “to at least make a connection between people’s lives and their own political agenda,”

This was the reality in the 1980s of the last century when Kurdish villagers bore the main brunt of the fight by providing fresh recruits for the Peshmerga forces and undertaking the supply of their sustenance in terms of food and shelter.

A quarter century has passed since those days and fundamental changes have taken place in people’s economic, social, cultural lives as well as political understanding. Many villagers now live in cities and urban areas and the cities have in turn changed, too.

The technological and communications revolution has completely overturned the relationship between people and political groups.

People no longer have the same romantic notion of the armed struggle and the freedom fighters. There are reasons for this: one is that Iranian Kurdish groups observed and basically inherited the same political style of groups in Iraqi Kurdistan with all its weak points.

The second reason is that thanks to social media, satellite TV and other means of mass media ordinary people can no longer be fooled by unrealistic messages and hidden incompetence of political groups. This does not mean the prestige of the Peshmerga has declined in people’s eyes. It means people think and analyze logically now.

Now that there is talk of the resumption of the armed struggle in Iranian Kurdistan people can and would certainly ask these groups: if you cannot overcome your own differences how can we trust you to run our society when you win? Renewing the armed struggle also means military action, which in turn leads to people to worry about their peace, security and stability, which would certainly disappear.

Restarting an armed struggle requires the Peshmerga to sacrifice their lives and this is a right that no one can take away from them. But in all such struggles the fighters have in fact only constituted a small portion of the victims. The main victim has been the ordinary people and therefore renewing armed actions in the old village sense, in my view, would only bring tragedies and suffering for the Kurds of Iran.

Renewing the armed struggle without any groundwork in other aspects would not be a rational choice. Some may say that we are dealing with an enemy that only understands force and fear. That may be true, but the enemy has lived with this fear for a long time and it is a fact. So Iranian Kurdish groups have outlived the armed struggle and it is now time for something greater.

I am not suggesting that armed action is a taboo and shouldn’t be touched. But Iranian Kurdish parties should have, a long time ago, redefined their agenda and politics along the paradigm of major changes of the last quarter century. This is the least they should have done and if they had, the Middle East of today would have had much better things to offer them