by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 2, Ramadan, 1444)
Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi is well-known as a Muslim hero and legend. He was born to a prominent Kurdish family in 1137 or 1138 CE in Takrit, present-day Iraq. On the night of his birth, his father Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb moved to Aleppo to offer his services to Imad al-Din Zangi ibn Aq Sonqur, the powerful Turkish governor of northern Syria.
There, Salahuddin Ayyubi (his name has been corrupted to Saladin by the Europeans), developed his skills both as a keen student of Islam as well as a brave warrior. Upon Imad al-Din’s death, his son Nur al-Din Mahmud Zangi became the ruler. The Prophet (pbuh) appeared to him in a dream on three separate occasions telling him to take care of the two red-haired persons who are trying to bother him.
The commander of Nur al-Din Zangi’s forces was Asad al-Din Shirkuh, an uncle of Salahuddin Ayyubi. After consulting his advisor Sheikh Jamaluddin, Zangi set out to Madinah at the head of a large force and apprehended the two culprits who were sent by the Christian ruler of Iberia to steal the body of the noble Messenger (pbuh). The Christians confessed to their crime and were executed.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin Ayyubi succeeded his uncle as commander of the Muslim forces when he was only 31. He united the ranks of the warring Muslim factions and after dealing with the corrupt rulers of Egypt and the surrounding areas who had made common cause with the occupying Crusader forces of Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), he laid siege to Jerusalem liberating it in October 1187 CE.
Salahuddin also liberated the surrounding areas from the Crusaders, earning the eternal gratitude of the entire Muslim Ummah. He united the people under the banner of Islam, not ethnicity or any tribal affiliation. His legacy as the liberator of al-Quds has entered the realm of history permanently.
Far from living up to this rich legacy, the Kurds of today have allowed themselves to become tools in the hands of the modern-day Crusaders. This is truly tragic. True, they have been deprived a state of their own but is ethnicity a valid consideration for establishing a state?
There is no country in the world that consist of a single ethnic group. Should every country be split up into ethnic enclaves? Where would one begin or end?
The Kurds, numbering 25-30 million, are spread across five countries. Their largest concentration is in Turkey in the Taurus Mountains of southeastern Anatolia, but they are also present in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia.
Of late, they have been much in the news, for all the wrong reasons. They have allowed themselves to be manipulated by anti-Muslim forces—American imperialists and zionist settler colonialists, in particular—to destabilize Muslim countries. The Kurds, or those that pass off as their leaders, have pursued a narrow tribal, ethnic and linguistic agenda without caring for the turmoil such policy has wreaked in the region.
Both in Turkey and Iraq, they have indulged in guerrilla warfare against the respective central authorities. Successive governments in Turkey have come down hard denying their very existence, asserting that they are “Mountain Turks”. Their language and dress were banned and Ankara encouraged the migration of Kurds to urban centres to dilute their presence in eastern Turkey.
Turkey’s military operations against the Kurds, especially against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), formed by Abdullah Öcalan in 1978, have continued. His aim was to create an independent Kurdish state. This was later modified to seek autonomy and the right to speak and teach their own language.
In pursuit of this objective, the PKK carried out terrorist acts against government installations and it is now designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations. Öcalan continued to move across Europe as well as took shelter in Syria from where he was expelled in 1998. He ended up in Athens, the Turks’ traditional enemy.
In February 1999, the Greeks took Öcalan to Nairobi, Kenya to hide him in their embassy until he could be moved to a safe location. Turkish intelligence got wind of it and Turkish commandos were able to capture him and took him to Turkey. He was put on trial and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life imprisonment. He is held at the Amarli Island prison.
Turkish military operations against the PKK have been extended to north-eastern Syria as well since 2016. The Kurds in Syria are operating under the label of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and are used as a tool by the US occupation forces. The US plan was to destabilize and ultimately overthrow the government of President Bashar al Asad in Damascus, a plot that has now failed, thanks to help provided by Islamic Iran, Hizbullah and Russia.
In Iraq, the Kurds have created a de facto independent state in the north of the country. This came about as a result of the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Husain and the backing of US and Israel to keep Iraq divided. While enjoying a large measure of autonomy in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, the Kurds of Iraq again allowed themselves to be manipulated by the American invaders.
Since the overthrow of Saddam, the Kurds have been provided political space inside the Iraqi political set up but they continue to act as tools of imperialism and zionism. They have allowed Israeli intelligence agents to operate in the region and have played a particularly destabilizing role in smuggling weapons into Iran to attack government forces.
While some Kurdish intellectuals may argue that the Treaty of Sèvres, drawn up in 1920, provided for an autonomous Kurdistan, this was never ratified. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which replaced the Treaty of Sèvres, made no mention of Kurdistan or of the Kurds. Thus, the Kurds see this as a betrayal of their quest for an independent state.
As the west’s betrayal of the Treaty of Sèvres shows, they have no interest in serving the desires of any groups. The west is only interested in serving its own interests. Every group will be used and then discarded. The Kurds would be better served if they were to work within the systems of the countries in which they reside.
After all, the best-known Kurd in history, Salahuddin Ayyubi, worked within the system in Muslim lands and rose to power through his sincere efforts. He earned the gratitude of the entire Muslim Ummah by liberating al-Quds. Let the Kurdish fighters join forces with those trying to liberate al-Quds, rather than joining hands with the present-day Crusaders.