How do we build a state? | Bedran A. Habeeb
The Kurds are a lazy, non-working people, and this is no slander, no story that I am making up about my own people. I am a Kurd and I love Kurds. But just go out there and ask around to find out for yourself, you will see that the Kurds are notorious among other nations for their helplessness and laziness. In Kurdistan, where we experience day and night this reluctance to work, and where we can see the Kurds waiting for their Indonesian, Filipino and Thai servants to cook their food and clean their homes. The same thing is true abroad; immigrants from all parts of the third world in Europe are working tirelessly like ants, while the Kurds are celebrating their rest, and yet are discontent with their conditions.
This habit of not working is not a new one for the Kurds brought about by the influx of oil wealth in recent years. We cannot pass the buck on to this to evade responsibility. No, these people have been non-workers since the day they came into being. Indifference and an unwillingness to work have deep roots among the Kurds. Long ago in this country’s rural existence, the agriculture, cattle-breeding and crop-growing on land devoid of irrigation, everything depended on rainfall. This changed man from a dynamic, lively creature into a heinously lazy and sky-dependent one.
Reluctance to work, as it has negative effects on the economy and makes poverty and hunger the share of the people, also humiliates the people in the face of its merciless, occupying neighbors.
In the history of this region, the Kurds and the Jews are very much alike. Both nations lost their sovereignty hundreds of years BC. That of the Jews was much worse, because despite losing their sovereignty, they were scattered all over the world. But look how ultimately, thanks to hard work, they jumped back into history, and how the Kurds, thanks to their laziness and lethargy, became such a miserable people.
Once I read a quote by an Armenian writer: “The Armenian people became diamonds under the pressure of history” the writer had written. A Diamond is metal formed under high pressure. I wished that history would have made the Kurds, like the Armenians, diamonds instead of Libad (a Kurdish word for a mat made of sheep’s wool by pressing it over and over again)
Formerly, what made the Kurds glorious was their persecution, but they soon lost their glory after gaining freedom. I never saw a foreigner in recent times impressed by Kurdish efficiency in any particular skill. A while ago, I met a Lebanese intellectual, who was invited to a modest and disappointing Kurdish cultural event; shameful like all other cultural events in the Kurdistan region. The Lebanese intellectual, out of his concern for the Kurdish issue, interrogated me, “is this how you plan to build a state?” he queried.
Another example of Kurdish laziness: a group of shepherds from a neighboring village of ours had assaulted a farmer in our village. The police failed to investigate the case of the shepherds because they were also Peshmargas (Kurdish security forces). As an intellectual close to the authorities, I was at loss for an answer to the villagers, “is this how you plan to build a state?” they asked.
Reluctance to work and lethargy are not only Kurdish habits, but also Iraqi ones. The Iraqis, as they are themselves unwilling to toil, hate anyone who works. In 1948, when the Jews migrated to the Promised Land, the Iraqis looted them. It was not hatred of the Jews or of their religion which drove them to do this, because the Jews had been living in this country for thousands of years without any problems. They were looted for working hard and caring for their businesses. The Iraqis hated their capitals not them.
Saddam Hussein did the same thing to the Feyli Kurds in 1980. He looted them, stripped them of all their wealth and deported them. These two events in Iraq’s modern history reversed the progress of Baghdad and all the Iraqi cities in terms of urban life.
The Feylis are the only Kurdish group who are good at business, just like the Jews. They are an urban group, while Saddam Hussein, was an arrogant countryman who had no respect for work. Dozens of thousands of Kurdish Feyli families were forced out of Iraq. Those families did not return to Iraq even after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 because they found no real incentive.
In all the countries I have visited, I have seen Feyli Kurds doing business, whether small or big. Though the Iraqi regime stripped them of their wealth, they started from scratch and became capitalists once more. These Feyli Kurds are also a patriotic group. Though the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) refused to compensate them for their losses, they continued to back the progress of the Kurdish government.
I have thought long and hard about how to turn Kurdish cities into real cities; how to establish and manage professional Kurdish businesses, factories, restaurants, and shops; how the Kurds should drive their country towards reconstruction and prosperity, shake off the dust of laziness and take over from those unqualified foreign companies that have exploited the laziness of the Kurds to loot the country’s wealth. In the end, I could find no other solution than bringing back the Feyli Kurds to the Kurdistan Region.
*Bedran A. Habeeb is the Director-General of AKnews