Gerald Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral work in Middle East studies, has lectured on numerous university and other platforms. He has debated many of the best Arab and pro-Arab academics in public debates and on television. Mr. Honigman is widely published in academic journals, magazines, newspapers and other publications.
Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:46 pm Abyei, Kirkuk, and Jerusalem...
Abyei, Kirkuk, and Jerusalem… The ABCs Of The Arab-Israeli Conflict
by Gerald A. Honigman
At first glance, Abyei, Kirkuk, and Jerusalem may appear as if they have very little in common. But take another look. There is at least one common thread, in particular, which is revealing indeed…
After a half century of renewed warfare (just in modern times), the black African south of the Sudan is slated to become independent of the Arab/Arabized north of the country in July of this year.
Here's how the Arabs have viewed this. Ex-president, Gaafar Muhammad al-Nimeiry proclaimed…
The Sudan is the basis of the Arab thrust into... black Africa, the Arab civilizing mission ("Arabism and Pan-Arabism in Sudanese Politics," Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 11, no. 2, 1973, pp. 177-7.
Some three million blacks were subsequently slaughtered, enslaved, maimed, turned into refugees, and the like in the Arabs' "civilizing" process.
Abyei is a disputed border area between north and south…and it has oil. While it was granted special status under the 2004-2005 agreements ending the decades-old civil war, a referendum was supposed to later decide its fate. Most recently, in May 2011, the north invaded the area, tanks firing at civilians indiscriminately, causing thousands of people to flee. The referendum has been postponed indefinitely at this time, and many fear a return to open warfare between the north and the south.
While the Darfur region is in the west of this huge nation--so is not slated for independence (and so its own nightmare has no end yet in sight)--the following quote sums up what black Africans, Muslim and non-Muslim, have largely been subjected to at the hands of their Arab conquerors--especially those who are considered to have not become sufficiently "Arabized" enough. Recall that Darfur is largely Muslim.
Back on June 15, 2006, an AP article dealt with the findings of an UN-backed court, finally prodded into action, probing war crimes in Darfur. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor, stated that eyewitnesses spoke of Arab perpetrators of numerous atrocities telling black victims such things as, "we will kill all of you blacks and drive you out of this land."
The new nation of South Sudan will need the oil wealth of the Abyei region to sustain itself, but the north wants this strategically important area as well.
Having conquered the entire country over the centuries, it's somewhat amazing that the Arabs appear to have finally consented to the south's independence…or did they ?
Given the importance of Abyei, this story continues…
Moving out of Africa to Mesopotamia, Arabs have long stated that the birth of an independent Kurdistan would be viewed as "another Israel"…i.e., how dare yet another people (besides Jews) declare that they too have rights in what Arabs claim to be "purely Arab patrimony."
Recall that Kurds--some thirty-five million truly stateless people in the region--were promised independence with the breakup of the centuries-old Ottoman Turkish Empire after World War I but were sacrificed, instead, on the altar of British petroleum politics and Arab nationalism. My research on this very subject has been showcased in Paris's acclaimed Institut d'Etudes Politique (Sciences-Po) since the early '80s.
The Kirkuk and Mosul region is where the second half of Iraq’s major oil deposits are located. After the Brits got a favorable decision on the Mosul Question from the League of Nations in 1925, the abortion of promises of independence to the Kurds became complete. It was considered essential to unite the oil wealth of both the north and south for the viability of the Mandate. Not wanting to anger the region's other oil-rich Arabs, the Kurds got His Majesty's royal shaft.
Caught between the risen phoenix of Ataturk's Turkey and Reza Shah Pahlavi's Iran, Mesopotamia was only real hope for Kurdish freedom in the age of nationalism. Unlike the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine, which would see some 80% lopped off and handed over to Arab nationalism in 1922 with the creation of what would become purely Arab Jordan, the larger Mandate of Mesopotamia would offer no compromise to its Kurds. We are living with the tragic consequences of this travesty to this very day.
Kirkuk has been called the Kurdish Jerusalem. While it is now composed of mixed nationalities, largely due to Saddam's forced Arabization of the area, there is no doubt that Kurds lived in the region of the northern oil fields for millennia before an Arab even knew it existed. As Hurrians, Kassites, Medes, Gutians, and so forth, they were neighbors of the Jews. As for the presence of some Turkmen, recall that, besides Turkey, there are a half dozen other Asiatic Turkic states. It’s the Kurds who are still the main folks lacking any national liberation. While Arabs demand their 22nd state, who demands a roadmap for Kurdistan?
Kirkuk is as Kurdish as London is British…despite all of those other nationalities now living there.
While Iran's major oil fields are in its western province of Khuzestan, that area has been known as Arabistan for centuries…Guess why? Now relate this to Kirkuk…Like Abyei in the Sudan, the Arabs will fight to keep it solely as "purely Arab patrimony."
Perhaps there is a way for the oil wealth of both areas to be shared between Arabs and those they have conquered, massacred, and subjugated in the past. It all depends on what the Arab mindset permits…and so far, the latter is rarely in a sharing mood.
Finally, the last link in this essay involves Jerusalem.
When Transjordan attacked western Palestine on its assault upon the reborn state of Israel in 1948, it soon demolished dozens of ancient synagogues, used tombstones from ancient Jewish cemeteries to pave roads and build latrines, and declared the conquered "west bank" of the Jordan River to be Judenrein, just like Transjordan had been since its creation in 1922. Arabs did all in their power to erase the Jews' millennial connections to the land…and now they have an American Administration--with perennial State Department assistance--to support their claims.
Jews owned land and lived in Judea and Samaria up until the 1920s and 1930s when they were massacred by Arabs and had formed the majority of Jerusalem's population since the mid-19th century.
Like Abyei and Kirkuk, Jerusalem was simply declared to be "purely Arab patrimony.
Even the holiest of site in Judaism, the Temple Mount / Western Wall, was declared to be Buraq's Mount instead--the site where Muhammad's winged horse rested before flying to Heaven. And, like other sites conquered on behalf of the Dar ul-Islam, the Dome of the Rock would be erected atop the very site of the conquered Jews' Holy of Holies.
Abyei, Kirkuk, and Jerusalem…their stories go far in explaining the ABC s--the root cause--of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Arabs' dominant worldview which refuses to see justice through any eyes but their own. Given this, any reasonable compromise becomes nearly impossible to achieve.