An article published in The New York Times on 2 March 1979, in section A page 13, titled “Mustafa Barzani, Kurd’s Leader Dies” provided an obituary and a brief history of the Kurds and their prominent leader. He had been living in exile in Northern Virginia since 1976.

Barzani, born in 1903, spent most of his life establishing an independent Kurdish state, which he succeeded and served as the commander of the army of the short-lived Kurdish Mahabad Republic, established with Soviet aid in northwestern Iran, in 1946.

In 1975, the Shah of Iran reached an agreement with Iraq to cut off supplies to the Kurds. The United States, at the direction of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, withdrew its support. Soviet‐supplied Iraqi tanks quickly overran Barzani’s troops, and he sought asylum and medical treatment for lung cancer in the U.S.

As a new round of fighting begins in Syria, NPR’s Ari Shapiro spoke with Bilal Wahab of the Washington Institute about the history of the military alliance between the U.S. and the Kurds.

“In 1990,” says Wahab, “when President Bush asked the Iraqi people to rise against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, the Kurds responded to that. And unfortunately, once Saddam Hussein’s tanks rolled into Kurdistan, the U.S. just stood by, and that resulted in a massive exodus of Kurds to the mountain.”

Jon Schwarz titled his 7 October 2019 article in The Intercept, “The U.S. Is Now Betraying the Kurds For the Eighth Time” and goes on to elaborate on the dynamics of betrayal since World War I.

In the aftermath of Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet on February 10, 2016, a Rojava representative office linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party/ Democratic Union Party (PKK/PYD), was opened in Moscow.

Two days before the opening ceremony, that was attended by Russian and Kurdish politicians, a furious Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave an ultimatum to the U.S. administration to choose between Turkey and Syrian Kurds by asking them “me or terrorists?”

In Gonul Tol’s article published in War on the Rocks on 19 December 2017, she comments, “…when it comes to Russian support for the YPG, Ankara is mute. Neither Erdogan nor other top ruling party officials uttered a word when the Russian commander at the Hmeimim military base and the YPG spokesman appeared before cameras and made a joint press statement. The Russian commander said they were conducting a joint operation against ISIL in the eastern city of Deir ez- Zor. Russian warplanes provided air cover for the YPG while the Kurdish
forces protected Russian forces on the eastern side of the Euphrates.”
Gonul Tol goes on to say, “Turkey’s muted response to Russia’s collaboration with the YPG points to an inconvenient truth for the ruling AKP: Ankara has historically been vulnerable to Russia’s Kurdish policy. In the past, it had the leverage to keep Moscow in check. But today, Ankara’s hands are tied. Turkey has no leverage to steer Russia away

from cooperating with its archenemy. Ankara might hope Moscow will drop the Kurds as the campaign against ISIL begins to draw to a close. But Russo-Kurdish partnership has deep roots that stretch back to the turn of the last century and might last longer than Turkey would like. As American power in the region is perceptibly in retreat, Russia is trying to fill the vacuum. In Moscow’s regional calculations, the Kurds might prove to be more than great fighters. They could provide the Kremlin with further leverage.”

“The Kurds have historically played an important role in Russian efforts to exert its influence in the Middle East. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used the Kurds to bypass America’s containment strategy in the region.”
Many more events show that intelligence agencies, global politicians, world leaders and sometimes even their spouses, Madame Mitterrand for example, support the Kurdish endeavor to rule themselves as an independent state or in an autonomous region. The challenge has always been where it was to be built. After all, irrespective of current

borders, what the Kurds claim to be their homeland happens to be divided among Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and they would have to forfeit prime real estate abundant with natural resources as well as being of great geopolitical and geostrategic importance for a Kurdish state to emerge.

The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq somewhat resembles an autonomous region, however, when Masoud Barzani went for a referendum for independence from the Iraqi central government in 2017, he was quickly forced to resign.

The question is, why is it that Kurds keep falling for promises that historically have never been kept? Is it the desire for self-determination or miscalculated alliances?