Saturday, September 24, 2016


Pan-Arabism and Pan-Africanism are pretty much dead ideologies at this point. But, Pan-Kurdism seems to still have a fair amount of support at least in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tunisia and Lebanon are never going to be part of the same state. Neither are Ghana and Mozambique. But, it is conceivable that sometime in the future that the Kurdish parts of Iraq and Syria could be joined in some sort of political union.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Importance of History

One very evident problem of Kurdistan's division across multiple states and its historic failure to develop its own state is that there is not a single generally agreed upon historical narrative of the Kurdish people actually controlled by the Kurdish people. It is also one of the primary reasons for this continued division and lack of independent statehood. Solving this problem is far more important than training more oil engineers.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Another Epiphany

Yesterday, I had another epiphany. It was in response to a statement by a friend of mine that every American here has something odd about him and that is why he is here. My epiphany is that my teaching means a lot more in places like Kurdistan, Ghana, and Kyrgyzstan than it would at someplace in the US. God in his infinite wisdom has thus sent me to these places. He wasn't punishing me. He was rewarding me.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Food in Kurdistan

I like Kurdish food a lot. But, there are other options here. Last night I had Chinese food and this afternoon a hamburger. Although to be honest a hamburger isn't all that different from a Kurdish kabob put on a bun with some vegetables. Then of course there are neighboring cuisines like Turkish and Arabic. I haven't found any Persian places to eat at yet, but the grocery store has a lot of Iranian products. In particular I have found a lot of dairy products from Iran. I have taken to drinking a lot of doogh. I like it better than ayran due to the mint flavor.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

More on Kurdish History

At one time I thought the history of the Caucasus was complicated. Then I encountered the history of northern Ghana. Now, I am trying to sort out the recent history of Kurdistan. It is not as ethnically complex as the Caucasus let alone Ghana. But, it is politically much more complex. The fact that the territory is divided across four major states is a major contributing factor to this complexity. This has tied support for various Kurdish factions by outside powers to the political alliances of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. To just give one example the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) in Iraq has since the 1940s been variously supported by the USSR, US, Iran, and Israel. It has also had its assistance from all those states completely cut off at various times. In the mid-1940s the Soviets saw support of the Kurds as a way to further their interests in Iran. During the 1960s and early 1970s the US, Iran, and Israel saw support of the Kurds as a way to weaken Iraq. In the 1980s Syria saw support of the Kurds as a way to counter pressure from Turkey. The shifting support of various Kurdish factions during the Cold War is difficult enough to follow. After the collapse of the USSR and the removal of the Baath Party from power in Iraq the situation become much more fragmented. The current war in Syria has further greatly complicated matters. So at this point since I am a 20th century historian I am going to try and figure out the basic narrative from 1914 to 1991.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Eid Break

I finished my first week of teaching in Kurdistan today. I spent today covering the Ottoman Empire before the Tanzimat reforms. Now we have a week off for Eid.

First Classes

Yesterday I finished up the first week of Civ 101 classes. I had three 1.5 hour sections of it to teach on Monday and then again on Wednesday. So now we have actually got up to the start of civilization. Next week we have off for the Eid holiday.