Monday, January 09, 2017

Trying to Follow Kurdish Political History

The political history of Kurdistan starts to get complicated in 1975 after the PUK splits from the KDP. It starts to get really complicated after the 1991 Gulf War. From 1992 on trying to follow all the factions in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria and their various international alliances gets progressively more difficult. The entire decade of the 1990s was one of shifting relations between the KDP, PUK, IMK, PKK, KDPI, Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, Damascus, Paris, and Washington DC.

Blogging in 2017

Based on the number of comments this blog gets and some other information this blog has exactly three human readers of which two are my parents. I suspect this is because the topics I blog about are of no interest to anybody else other than us four. I know all writing aims at niche markets, but three people is the type of audience private letters rather than public blogs garner. There is no helping it, however. It has been this way for years and nothing can be done to change it.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Partial English Language Bibliography on Kurds

Aziz, Mahir A., The Kurds of Iraq: Nationalism and Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015).

Bengio, Ofra, The Kurds of Iraq: Building  a State Within a State (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012).

Bulloch, John and Morris, Harvey, No Friends But the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Edmonds, C.J., Kurds, Turks and Arabs: Politics, Travel and Research in North-Eastern Iraq: 1919-1925 (London: Oxford University Press, 1957).

Jabar, Felah A. and Dawod, Hosham, eds., The Kurds: Nationalism and Politics (London: SAQI, 2006).

Jwaideh, Wadie, The Kurdish Ntional Movement: Its Origins and Development (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006).

McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, Third Revised Edition, (London, I.B. Tauris, 2007).

Natali, Denise, The Kurds and the State: Evolving Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005).

Phillips, David L., The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East (London: Transaction Publishers, 2015).

Randal, Jonathan C., After such Knowledge. What Forgiveness?: My Enounters with Kurdistan (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Brief Note on Kurds in Comparative Context in the Last Century

The Kurds are unusual among people struggling for self determination during the late 20th Century in a couple of aspects. First, they ended up divided among five different states instead of concentrated in only one. Second, after 1946 they ceased to be under the rule of any of the European colonial powers. Instead they came under the rule of independent states engaging in nationalizing rather than imperial projects of state building. Projects that had the tacit support of an international community that strongly opposed changing the political boundaries of existing post-colonial states, especially by armed force. Thus the Kurds had two distinct disadvantages that national liberation movements in places like Algeria, Kenya, and Angola did not.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Easing Back Into Work

Today I returned to the office for the first time since before Christmas. I did not get a huge amount of work done. But, I did get some done. First, I downloaded a bunch of files I had on my laptop at home on to a pen drive and then uploaded them onto my work laptop. Then I wrote up a peer review for a journal article that I had been putting off. I then actually wrote 500 words on the article dealing with Kurds in the USSR I have been making slow progress on since August. It is currently up to 3000 words. Now that I don't have classes for a while I hope to be able to finish it. Finally, I tried out my new "I Love Slemani" tea mug I bought especially for work. At home I use one that has a Kurdish flag on it and says "I Love Kurdistan."

Kurds in the Red Army and Partisans during WWII

I am not sure if it is pure coincidence or some expression of a deeply rooted cultural trait. But, Kurds in the USSR during World War II seemed to have the same two military specializations that they later demonstrated in Iraq so well. The first is marksmanship. A lot of Kurds in the Red Army served as snipers. The second is the ability to organize guerrilla organizations. Kurds organized and led a number of partisan detachments that fought against the Nazis during World War II not only in the USSR but, even one outside Paris.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Summary of 2016

Overall 2016 was a great year. I finally got a decent paying job for the first time in my life. My compensation literally increased an order of magnitude. I got published in a top tier journal for the first time ever. The abstract is available here. I got to spend more time with my family this summer and have been able to video chat with them since then, something I couldn't do from Ghana. On the other hand my increased standard of living has led me to gain unwanted weight.

The Other Mall

Actually there are quite a few malls in Suli. But, I went to the giant new Majidi mall today. It is built like a giant airplane hanger and three floors. I ate a burger at Fatburger and purchased some spicy Iranian ketchup, spicy Filipino banana sauce, and Turkish olive oil at the supermarket in the basement of the mall.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

George Ciccariello-Maher

To clarify the offensive statement by George Ciccariello-Maher is not the one on "white genocide" but this one.
“To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.”
He is wrong about the timing of the massacres. The Revolution had already drove all the French military off the island by the time of the 1804 mass rapes and killings of the remaining white civilians. As justifiable as the Revolution was this is the first time I have ever seen anybody claim that the rape and murder of the French men, women, and children still in Haiti after its success was a "good thing." Usually the claim by historians like C.L.R. James is that it was a very bad thing, but not nearly as bad as what the French did to the Haitians. So the Revolution was a good thing despite the atrocities afterwards in 1804. Circcariello-Maher has flipped this on its head and said the Revolution was good because afterwards the Haitian government orchestrated the rape and murder of whites.

Publications During 2016

In 2016 I had two peer reviewed journal articles and a book chapter published.  The first article is "The Persecution of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II," The Russian Review, vol. 75. no. 2, April 2016. An abstract of the article can be found here. The other article is "The Deportation of the Crimean Tatars in the Context of Settler Colonialism," International Crimes and History, issue no. 16, 2016. A full copy of the article can be found here. The book chapter is "Nkrumah, the Cold War, the "Third World", and the US Role in the 24 February 1966 Coup" in Bea Lundt and Christoph Marx, (eds.), Nkrumah Today (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016). A full copy of the manuscript of the chapter can be found here. So that is two publications on the USSR and one on Africa. Feel free to leave any comments on the articles below.

It Has Now Been 73 Years Since the Deportation of the Kalmyks

On 27 December 1943 the NKVD began the round up and deportation of the Kalmyks from their homeland on the Caspian Sea to Siberia. The Stalin regime falsely accused the entire population of treason despite the fact that far more Kalmyks fought in the Soviet Red Army against the Nazis than served in German organized units. The patch to the right is a Red Army patch for Kalmyks from the 1920s. The swastika is a traditional symbol of many Buddhist peoples such as the Kalmyks. Rather than write a new post on the deportations I am instead linking to an encyclopedia article I wrote on the Kalmyks in 2010. It was published in Jeffrey Cole, ed., Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011), pp. 215-218. Please feel free to leave any comments on the article here.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Since I have finished grading and entering final grades for fall 2016 I have read two books on Kurdish history and gotten half way through a third. I then walked to the bazaar to buy three more books.  My goal is to read at least eight books on Kurdish history before February.