Iraqi Faylee Kurds and their role in the iraqi kurdish national movement

Who Are Faylee Kurds and where do they live?
Faylee (Faylee, Faili, or Feli) Kurds are, as their name tells, an inseparable segment of the Kurdish population in Iraq and an integral part of the Kurdish nation, which is divided among many countries in the Middle East, mainly Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Faylee Kurds have themselves shown, over the years, and still show this fact and reality by words and deeds. They speak a dialect that belongs to the southern Kurdish dialect called Luri which is spoken in the southern areas of Kurdistan proper, particularly on both sides of the border areas between Iraq and Iran (1).

However, all Kurds speaking this dialect are not called Faylee (2). One can say that Kurds speaking this dialect and living in and around Baghdad as well as some cities and towns in eastern and southern Iraq are called Faylee. There are many and diverse explanations for why these Kurds are called “Faylee”; however there is no plausible, well documented and generally convincing or accepted one.

Faylee Kurds in Iraq have lived mainly in Baghdad (largely in the Kurdish Quarter (Agdelkrad, a Ghetto) and when they became better off economically they moved to more affluent areas, such as Etefiya, Jamila and Shari’ Falastin) and in lesser numbers in towns and cities near the borders with Iran from as north as south of the historically and demographically Kurdish city of Kirkuk to as far south as north of the southern city of Basra (3). On the Iranian side of the borders, Faylee Kurds (though not referred to by this name) live in the provinces of Kirmashan and Ilam and southward though not called Faylee Kurds. Since the mass expulsions from Iraq in the seventies and eighties there is a large number of Faylee Kurds in Tehran as well (4).

As many other things in the former police state of Baathist Iraq the number of Faylee Kurds in the country has been a “state secret”. However, estimates vary from several hundreds of thousands to a few millions, but most people speak of one million Faylee Kurds living in Baghdad before the mass deportations of the 1970s and 1980s (5).

Faylee Kurds in Iraq are Kurdish Iraqi citizens by birth and naturalization. However, and due to repeated arbitrary deportations on several occasions and by different regimes some of the naturalized Faylee Kurds have kept dual nationalities in order to protect themselves and their families in case “their turn may comes”.

Faylee Kurds have lived in Baghdad in lesser numbers for hundreds of years (6) and their numbers have increased after the creation of the state of Iraq and the drawing of the more strict national borders when their numbers increased more rapidly. This increase was mostly due to a number of factors, among them, social and spatial mobility, geographical proximity (ease of movement), economic vitality (risk and initiative taking) and demographic fertility (very high birth rate).

Faylee Kurds have been business, especially trade, oriented for the above-mentioned factors and because they could not get employment from the almost only employer, the state. (7) They were engaged in economic activities within the private sector, particularly in trade and commerce. (8) Only since the nineteen fifties when Faylee Kurds’ economic situation improved and they could send their sons and daughters to schools did they emerge as technocrats, engineers, doctors, lawyers and teachers.

Discrimination and Injustice
Faylee Kurds have suffered many an injustice and ill-treatment. Arbitrary and illegal deportations on a large scale took place in 1969 and 1971-1973 and again, and by far the most far-reaching, concerted and brutal, at the beginning of the nineteen eighties. Thousands upon thousands were rounded up from their homes, schools, work places and army units, taken to the security offices in Baghdad and the other cities of Iraq, stripped and robbed by the state (“state robbery”) of all official documents (birth certificates, certificates of citizenship, passports, military books, school and university degrees, property deeds, marriage contracts and last but not least money), body searched and interrogated in the typical Baathist manner. They were, with few exceptions, not allowed to take with them neither food nor water, insulted in different ways and then put into mostly military trucks or busses, driven to the eastern border areas and told to march ahead and never look back otherwise they would be shot . (9)

Because of the dominant and strong economic, especially commercial, position of Faylee Kurds, as mentioned above, the latest deportation wave began deceitfully by calling the Faylee economic elite to a meeting at the chamber of commerce in Baghdad supposedly to grant them new and bigger import licenses. They were rounded up there and then, stripped of all documents, taken to the security headquarters for body searching and interrogation, and then taken to the borders in trucks without informing their families or relations. Literally everything they owned was confiscated; they were allowed to only keep the clothes they were wearing then. Subsequently, many of them suffered depression or died of heart attack or stroke after seeing their lives’ hard won achievements being so arbitrarily taken from them and their families by the state of Iraq and being reduced from a life of prosperity and high social ranking to a life of destitute and obscurity.

Total Silence
The latest wave of deportation lasted for many months during which thousands of young Faylee Kurds, both women and men, were detained and kept as hostages. Their number varies from 5.000 to 10.000 and up to 30.000. Only after the defeat of the Baath regime and the availability of the security forces’ records did the horrible truth about them emerge. None of them has been spared; all had been executed or, according to some unconfirmed but probable accounts, were forced to walk in mine fields to clear the way for Iraqi army units during the war against Iran or were used in the regime’s experimentations with chemical and biological weapons development (10) . If this is confirmed, it means that chemical weapons were tested on young Faylee Kurd detainees before being dropped on Halabja in 1988.

The rather rigorously planned and ruthlessly executed mass deportation of Faylee Kurds was only a prelude to, and part of a larger strategy of the Baath regime against the Kurdish population. The crux of the matter was to deprive the Kurds in Iraq of all economic power and drive them from all geographically strategic areas by demographical measures and forcible ethnic cleansing and shifts and alterations. They began by crushing the Kurds’ economic dominance (11) at the center of power Baghdad through deportation and ethnic cleansing in, among other places, Kirkuk and Khanaqin and as part of this overall strategy the regime tried to alter the ethnic identity of some Kurds, such as the Yezidis and the Shebaks claiming they were Arabs.

Despite this large-scale and brutal ethnic cleansing of Muslim Iraqi citizens taking place openly and being a lead up to the still enormously much larger, and by far much more ruthless, ethnic cleansing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Arab and Muslim states or Islamic organizations, media, politicians and governments in particular and international media, organizations, politicians (with a very few exceptions) and governments in general did indeed keep a deafening silence on these tragic events and some of them did indeed support these measures openly or tacitly.

Some people say what could they otherwise do since Saddam Hussein and his regime was then the hero of the Arab nation (he was backed politically, militarily, and financially and was hailed for “defending and safeguarding its “Eastern Gate” from the “Persian enemy” as was written and said then by Arab regimes, with the exception of Syria, by Arab media and intellectuals) and who later turned into an Arab bully in the eyes of some Arab regimes when he invaded Kuwait in 1991; and he was also the darling of the West and the milk-cow of the Soviet Union, USA and Western Europe. Everyone was competing and rushing to appease the despot and gain some of his favors and petrol-dollars, notwithstanding the suffering he and his regime brought upon and the hardships he and his regime inflicted upon the Iraqi people in general and the Kurds in particular.

Plausible Reasons
The question that begs itself is why the Baath regime treated the Kurds so ruthlessly. The main reasons for this treatment are among others and briefly:
1- The Baath party ideology is rooted in Nazism (the party was founded during WW2 when Nazi Germany was at the peak of its military might) (12) and inspired by Stalinism which had great influence on the head of the dictatorial regime, namely, Saddam Hussein. Nazism’s national superiority and Stalinism’s ill-treatment of national and religious minorities are well known. Another influence on Saddam Hussein was the strict and rigid tribal and peasant norms and mentality.
The ideological and mental framework was already in place.
2- The ruthless treatment of the Kurds in general in Iraq is well known and documented, varying from arbitrary arrests to the use of chemical weapons against them. It is a reflection of the Nazi and Stalinist ideology and Arab ultra-nationalism which is intolerant of minorities. And because Faylee Kurds are part and parcel of the Kurdish nation they have evidently suffered from the same treatment.
3- As mentioned earlier, Faylee Kurds achieved prominence in the commercial field especially in Baghdad, the seat and center of power. Because of the regime’s then hidden agenda against the Kurds and its preparation for war against Iran, it aimed at destroying this dominance by destroying Faylee Kurds and their economic power base through mass deportation.
4- The Baath party carried out a bloody and cruel coup d’etat on Feb 8, 1963. Among the few places putting up popular resistance was the Kurdish quarter in Baghdad. The Baath party did not forget this resistance nor forgive the Kurds for that.
5- The archaic Iraqi Citizenship Law inherited from the Ottoman Empire era and incorporated in the newly created state of Iraq by the British. This law clearly favored those who had cooperated with the Ottoman and British authorities, namely, Arabs from the Sunni triangle against both the Kurds and the Shiite Arabs.
6- As part of its preparations for the war on Iran, the Iraqi regime aimed at creating social instability in that country by deporting hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens to the country and, in addition, creating further economic difficulties for the unprepared and weakened Iranian economy after the 1979 Islamic take over. Similar tactics were used by the Baath regime in 1974 against the Kurdish movement in Iraq before launching its military onslaught on the Kurds.
7- A contributing factor that some people mention in this context is that Faylee Kurds are Shia Muslims. Because the Iraq regime and state was sectarian-oriented both in ideology and practice and was from the overwhelmingly Sunni triangle of Iraq.

Faylee Kurds Role in the Iraqi Kurdish National Movement:

World War Two - 1975
Faylee Kurds have been involved in the Kurdish movement in Iraq and with the emerging Kurdish political party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) since it was founding in 1946, both as members and active supporters.
Some of them assumed higher positions and gained fame among Faylee Kurds, such as Dr. Jafar (Jafar Muhammad Karim) (13) Among the rank and file were, for example Shaban Nour Ali and others. There were special party cells and organizations for the Faylee Kurds living in Baghdad and elsewhere. These organizations were clandestine because the party was considered illegal from the start.

Involvement of Faylee Kurds with the KDP increased especially after the return of the renowned Kurdish national leader the late Mustafa Barzani from exile and the subsequent start of the Kurdish armed resistance against the central government in 1961.

In the middle of the nineteen sixties the KDP suffered a split, the late Mustafa Barzani leading the bigger faction and Jalal Talabani the other faction. Faylee Kurds, although joining both factions, were very disturbed and disappointed by this split and the subsequent infighting between the two factions.

Ordinary Faylee Kurds also supported the movement by making financial contributions and supplying safe houses in Baghdad and other Iraqi towns and cities for KDP members and high ranking figures. Faylee Kurdish merchants in Baghdad and elsewhere aided the armed Kurdish movement with supplies and agricultural products and sold agricultural and animal produce from the Kurdish region proper. Many of these merchants were arrested more than once, tortured and imprisoned. (14)

After the signing of the March 11, 1970 agreement between the re-united Kurdish movement, headed by the late General Barzani and the central government, Faylee Kurds joined the KDP on a large scale. It was mostly after that agreement that Faylee Kurds assumed prominent positions within Kurdish organizations.

Among Faylee Kurds who assumed very high positions within the Kurdish movement were Zakia Ismail Haqqi, the first women judge in Iraq, who became the President of the Kurdistan Women Association, Adel Murad who became President of the Kurdistan Student Union, Yadollah Karim who had a leading post of Kurdistan Youth Association and Habib Muhammad Karim, who became acting secretary-general of the KDP, in the middle of nineteen seventies (15). It must sadly be added that the first woman in Iraq to be executed for political reasons was a Faylee Kurd, Leila Qasim, from Khanaqin; she was hanged by the Baath regime in May 1974 along with 4 more young Kurds (16).

When the central government went back on the March 11, 1970 agreement, the armed struggle began again when the Kurdish region was attacked by government troops in March 1974. Many Faylee Kurds joined and took active part in that armed struggle; they included ordinary people, technocrats, students and others. Some became Peshmerga guerillas.

It can be said that so far the period between March 1970 and March 1974 was probably the “golden age” of Faylee Kurds’ participation in the Iraqi Kurdish movement when that movement was united under the leadership of the late Mustafa Barzani. The promotion of Faylee Kurds to these high positions was an expression of both his confidence in them and his recognition of their role in the movement as a whole. Some observers say this may have also been his response to the Iraqi regime’s deportation of Faylee Kurds at the beginning of the nineteen seventies on the pretext that they were not Iraqis but of Iranian origin and the of lack of, or weak, response from the Kurdish movement. At the time of the deportation of Faylee Kurds many of the leading figures in the Kurdish movement preferred inaction and acquiescence on the issue “in order not to upset relations with the Baath regime”. It must, however, be added that the late Mustafa Barzani again confirmed his position vis-à-vis Faylee Kurds by nominating Habib Muhammad Karim, a Faylee Kurd, to the post of Iraqi Vice President, a post given to the Kurds in accordance with the March 11, 1970 agreement between the Kurdish Movement and the central government (17).

Between 1976 and 2003
The armed movement collapsed in 1975 for internal and external factors, which will not be mentioned at this occasion. After the collapse, the Kurdish movement suffered internal divisions and bitter and sometime bloody conflict.

New political organizations emerged and old ones changed. Faylee Kurds joined these two main parties in increasing numbers. Here again Faylee Kurds played a prominent and sometimes a central part in the establishment of these organizations. The patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was established in 1976; among its founding members were Jalal Talabani along with two Faylee Kurds, Adel Murad and Abd al-Razzaq Aziz Mirza (usually known as Razzaq Faylee) and others. The KDP started a new organization, which was partly a revival of the old KDP, called the Provisional Leadership with a Faylee Kurd in charge of its foreign relations office in London.

After the 1991 popular uprising in Kurdistan Iraq Faylee Kurds began to come to the liberated areas in increasing though limited numbers and within the ranks of most Kurdish and Iraqi opposition parties. Some even worked within the new Kurdish administration in the liberated areas in various capacities. Among them can be mentioned Habib Muhammad Karim, Yadollah Karim, Jalil Faylee, Adel Murad, Razzaq Faylee and others. (18)

At the Present
Faylee Kurds have joined the two main Kurdish political parties, the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), headed by the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) headed by the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani.
Faylee Kurds have also joined other secular and religious Iraqi political parties and organizations, within which some of them have sensitive posts.

A number Faylee Kurds have been or are currently ministers or deputy ministers in the regional government in Arbil (such as Yadollah Karim, KDP, and Haider Sheikh Ali, Communist Party) and the government in Suleimania (such as Abdul Razzaq Myrza and Sadoun Faylee, PUK). Others are commanders of Peshmerga (Kurdish guerrilla) units. And still others work in other capacities. (19)

Due to the economic, social, security and political unfavorable conditions prevailing in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and the many restrictions imposed on them and on their movement in Iran (because they were officially considered Iraq citizens and commonly called Arabs (Arabaha, in Persian) by the population, tens of thousands of deportee Faylee Kurds chose to leave Iran by every and any possible way and method, however risky and dangerous. Many of them became victims of unscrupulous smugglers and corrupt officials. (20)
Faylee Kurds are at present spread over many parts of the world. Many of them still live in Iraq, especially in Baghdad and some in Iran after the latest mass deportation at the beginning of the nineteen eighties; others have chosen a life in exile, in Europe (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, England, Holland and France) North America and Australia.

Since Faylee Kurds see themselves as part of the Kurdish people in Iraq and the Kurdish nation at large, they have not had and do not have any intention or desire to establish political organizations for Faylee Kurds as such, preferring instead to join existing Kurdish and other Iraqi political parties. However, they have established non-political-party organizations, such as, for example, cultural, sports and academic associations and societies in order to keep the ties among themselves and take up their common problems and aspirations. (21)

Some Faylee Kurds feel that Kurdish parties can and should do more to address their specific grievances and problems and take up, in the appropriate forums, the apparent and obvious injustices committed against them by the Iraqi state for decades. They feel they are forgotten most of the time, especially when it counts. Some leaders of these parties counter this complaint by saying that the best way to do this is for the Faylee Kurds themselves to take up their case, their grievances and their demands and pursue their aspirations because no one else can or will do that as good as themselves (22).

It must be added that, on the one hand and regrettably, there are still among some leading figures in these parties and among some members of the Kurdish intelligentsia there is still limited and sometimes confused knowledge about the identity of Faylee Kurds and/or of their specific problems and the injustices committed against them. This has in turn led to some sort of indifference and lack of attention on their part towards these Kurds and their problems. This may be blamed in part on the Faylee Kurds themselves, though they have tried to bring or attract attention to their case.

Nevertheless, this would not justify that attitude. On the other hand, a number of Iraqi Arab writers and religious-cum-political leaders have publicized the plight of Faylee Kurds and strongly and relentlessly defended their rights.

There are Faylee Kurds who argue that they are still being ignored because they have no voice in either the Iraqi Governing Council or the government. However, others firmly believe that they must be represented and their representation should, if any, be within the Kurdish group in the Council and/or the government not as representative of Faylee Kurds per se but as part of the representatives of the Kurdish inhabitants of Iraq and as an affirmation and recognition that they are Kurds and Iraqis, as the late Barzani did in the seventies when Faylee Kurds reached high positions in the party and the other organizations of the movement not as representatives of Faylee Kurds as such but as an expression of his insistence both within the ranks of the Kurdish movement itself and as a stand vis-à-vis the central government that these people are both an integral part of Kurdish people as well as Iraqis.

Faylee Kurds are ethnically and nationally an integral part of the Kurdish people in Iraq and politically an inseparable section the Iraqi Kurdish movement. This is a fact that no one can factually or reasonably question or deny.
Developments and various events during the last half a century have proven that. However, Faylee Kurds do have specific problems due to the denial of their Iraqiness and forcible expulsion from Iraq in the same way as Kurds from the area of Kirkuk have their own specific problems caused by forcible internal displacement or the Yezidis and Shebaks whose very Kurdish identity was questioned and/or denied.

Faylee Kurds’ specific problems are complex and difficult especially the issue of citizenship, residence and property that has changed hands several times over the past 25 years and has new owners now. Among the most acute of these problems are the following:
1- The issue of citizenship: they have been arbitrarily looked upon by the Iraq nationalist regimes as being of Iranian origin (23). When they were deported to Iran the Iranian authorities regard them as Iraqi subjects (and the Iranian public at large called them Arabs (“Arabaha”)) with very limited and restricted rights.
2- The question of the return of confiscated and sold businesses and properties to their rightful and legal owners, including homes and houses currently occupied by other people, while their legal and rightful owners cannot move back into them or claim them back. Should the deportee Faylee Kurds choose to return home they have no where to go to. This problem is similar to the plight of Kurds in and around Kirkuk who have been internally displaced.
3- The question of compensation for the non-movable property illegally and wrongfully taken from them by the Iraqi Baath authorities.
4- The question of the thousands of young detainees or disappeared and their whereabouts, their fate and their graves. Thousands of families are still looking for clues about their loved ones.
5- The question of the return of deportees to Iraq in a legal, organized, orderly and viable manner. (24)
6- These problems and others relating to the plight of Faylee Kurds must be more thoroughly investigated and addressed by the new order in Iraq with the aim of reaching practical solutions acceptable to all sides involved without too much sacrificing justice and historical facts at the altar of expediency and/or pragmatism (25).
Faylee Kurds believe that their rights can only be restored by political will and action in the form of constitutional, legal, administrative and procedural measures as well as political assurances, safeguards, checks and controls. Mere statements and expressions of goodwill do not give sufficient and binding guarantees to these Kurds who are more exposed and more vulnerable due to the fact that they are (or, more correctly, have been) living at the center of power and therefore have no way to defend themselves (as recent history has clearly shown) when subjected to arbitrary and extra judicial measures by the state. They are also of the opinion that these measures and safeguards must be binding and workable and can only be put to work with the direct and active engagement by Kurdish political forces, with the backing of Iraqi political forces and the direct involvement of the Civilian Administration during this transitional phase.
They add that so far they have merely heard sympathetic views and sweet words from these quarters but, unfortunately, have seen neither tangible steps nor practical administrative and procedural measures to deal with their problems. Faylee Kurds say that they can only present their case in different forums and arenas adding that they have no power tools or means to do more than that.

The Iraqi Kurdish Movement, especially the KDP and PUK and their leaders, have not only the national and political duty but also the moral obligation to deal with these issues and come up with proposals that return the basic legitimate rights to these Kurds. They can do this, not for the Faylee Kurds only but also for the Kurds of Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Mandali, Garmiyan, Sinjar and other areas affected by the ethnic cleansing of Kurds in Kurdistan and Iraq, and they can do this more vigorously and with much heavier weight when the Kurdish movement becomes, hopefully soon, united and speaks with one forceful voice. Kurds everywhere have made advances and progress when united and suffered many setbacks when in discord or in disarray (26).

Many Faylee Kurds abroad, both the first and second generations, have gained skills and experience and become highly educated with high degrees of expertise in various fields and who want to return home. However, they are afraid of the current generally unfavorable circumstances, of uncertainties, of the high risks involved, of being seen as “foreigners” again, and of “not belonging” should the above-mentioned issues not be addressed and solved on all the legal, political and practical levels. Otherwise Kurdistan and Iraq will loose a significant and vigorous segment of its human resources, sources of investment and know-how, at a time when they are most urgently needed. The defunct Baath regime has left a very heavy and complicated burden and a complex legacy, which need be dealt with sooner than later.

The Kurds in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq as well as elsewhere have, as recent history has proven, no other viable alternative than to close ranks, be united and work together if they want to be accounted for and achieve their goals. Progress and development in all sectors and fields can only be accomplished through unity, harmony, peace and stability, whereas disunity, schism and internal fighting have always been, and still are, a formula for disaster for the Kurdish people and a recipe for setbacks for their aspirations.

Faylee Kurds, given the opportunity, are a positive and constructive segment in the Kurdish and Iraqi societies with a great potential; they are a big reservoir for both the Kurdish movement and for Iraq.

M Jafar, Ph.D. (27)

Some sources (updated September 2007):
Below is only a sample of articles and papers on Faylee Kurds in Iraq written by Kurds including Faylee Kurds, Arabs and others. Among them are: Dr. Kahdim Habib, Dr. Qasim al-Mandelawi, Dr. Ismail Kamandar, Dr. Kamal Ketuly, judge Zuhair Kadhim Abbod, Karzan Khanaqini, Ali al-Erkowazi, Dr. Mu’aiyad Abd al-Sattar, Dr. Abd al-Rahim al-Rifa’i and many others. A comprehensive list of articles, papers and other sources on Faylee Kurds is also found at the internet sites mentioned below.

1-Proposal for writing in the Faylee Kurdish dialect, by Hiwa Zandi, Stockholm 2007, Copyright 2007 by The Faylee Kurd Democratic Union (Arabic and Latin).
2- Najm S. Mehdi, al-Faylee, Stockholm 2001.
3- Middle East Watch, The Forgotten mass deportations in Iraq, Middle East International, Nov. 20, 1992.
4- Judge Zekia I. Hakki, The Iraqi Faylee Kurds and their catastrophic case, National Press Club, Washington DC, Oct 4, 2002.
5- Dr. Kadhum Habib, The plight of Faylee Kurds in Iraq, June 15, 2003.
6- Dr. Munther al-Fadhel, Faylee Kurds and their rights in the future of Iraq.
7- Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, Kurdistan and the Kurds, London, 1965.
8- M Jafar, 1976, Under-underdevelopment, A Regional Case Study of the Kurdish Area in Turkey, in English (Helsinki), Turkish (Istanbul) and Arabic (Beirut).
9- Muhammad A Zeki, History of the Kurds and Kurdistan, Baghdad, 1961 (Arabic).
10- Dr. Mundhir al-Fadhl, Faylee Kurds and their role in future Iraq.
11- The late Dr. Ali Babakhan, The Faylee issue in Iraq: origins and solutions, London, Dec. 2002.
12- Wittfogel, K.A., Oriental Despotism, A Comparative Study in Total Power, New Haven, 1967.

The internet: the following are a few among many other Faylee Kurdish sites in the Arabic language: Arabic/English English

1. Faylee Kurds are Muslims and the vast majority of them are of the Shiite faith.
2. A distinction must be made between Faylee Kurds from Khanaqin, Mandali and surrounding areas that are within or in proximity of the southern end of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Faylee Kurds living in Baghdad and other cities and towns in central and southern Iraq inhabited by an Arab majority. The former have suffered from forcible internal displacement whereas the latter have been subjected to forcible deportation to a neighboring country, namely, Iran.
3. They live in the cities and towns of Khanaqin, Mendeli (Manali in Kurdish), Saadiya, Shahraban, Kut, Amara, Bedra, Zurbatiya, Jassan, Kumet, Sheikh Saad, Nu’mania, Hei, Rifa’i, Ali al-Sharji and Ali al-Gharbi and other towns in the central and southern parts of Iraq.
According to the late Iraqi writer Jirjis Fathulla in Roj, No. 8, the Faylee Kurds led by Zolfiqar Ahmad Sultan Moosali, conquered Baghdad ruled Iraq from north of Samara to Basra between 1523 to 1529, but their rule came to an end because of intrigues relating to the conflict between the two neighboring empires, the Ottoman and the Safawid.
Moreover, and according to the Kurdish author Izzedin Mustafa Rasool, the Sharafnameh, the first Kurdish work on the history of Kurds and the geography of Kurdistan, written by Sharafkhan Bidlisi in 1584, refers to the fact that Faylee Kurds were then settling in Baghdad permanently.
4. Some Faylee Kurds living in close proximity to Arabs in Iraq dress themselves like Arabs but speak Kurdish and see themselves as Kurds. Among them are the Rewari and Kurdeli. The same phenomenon is observed in Kurdistan Iraq too, especially among Yezidi and Shebak Kurds and Kurds from Sinjar.
5. According to American estimates there are at present 700.000-750.000 Faylee Kurds living in Baghdad (source: personal communication after a recent visit to Baghdad). According to Ayatollah Seyid Hadi Muderrisi there are 3 million Faylee Kurds in Iraq (written statement on the still continuing injustices against Faylee Kurds, Sept 24, 2003).
6. According to Prof. Izzedin M. Rasol, the Sharaf Nameh, a Kurdish work written more than four centuries ago refers to Faylee Kurds settlement in Baghdad. And according to Georgis Fat-hullah, the first reference to Faylee Kurds (or Lurs) in English texts he has found is in James Frazer, The History of Nadir Shah, London, 1744. He adds that Faylee Kurds, under the leadership of Tholfiqar Ahmad Sultan, ruled Baghdad and other Iraqi cities from north of Samara to Basra for six years from 1523 to 1529. (Pages from the History of Faylee Kurds, Roj, No. 8 citing Ilam, Gothenburg, Sweden). This means that Faylee Kurds have settled and been present in these cities for more than 4.5 centuries.
7. For example, Faylee Kurd contractors had contracts with the British authorities in Iraq in the nineteen thirties and forties to build roads in areas south of Baghdad.
8. They began to emerge as a dominant trade and commerce force in Baghdad from the beginning of the nineteen fifties after the migration of almost the entire Iraqi Jewish community to Israel beginning 1948. Many of the emigrating Jews sold their properties and businesses to Faylee Kurds.
9. Most of these operations took place at night. A number of babies, children and elderly men and women did not make it and some of them could not continue walking to the other side of the borders and collapsed. Shots were fired over their heads to scare them into keeping walking and some were shot at directly.
10. No body really knows what has happened to these detainees although some documents have been found on a number of them stating that they have been “executed”. Have they actually been executed? Were they then buried? And in that case where are their graves? The questions are many but the answers are no where to be found. One of the writer’s brothers is among these “executed” Kurds.
11. This political objective was later (in 1991-1992) confirmed by Saddam’s deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz when he told a Kurdish delegation visiting Baghdad after the 1991 popular uprising in Kurdistan and southern Iraq that, “we will never allow the emergence of an economic base in the Kurdish areas”; private communication from a member of that delegation.
12. It was during this time that a pro-Axis and pro-Nazi Germany coup d’état took place in Baghdad; it was brought to an end by British troops entering Iraq from Jordan. This coup has been considered and celebrated by Baath ideologists as a land-mark in the modern history of Iraq.
13.Because of his political activities within the ranks of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) he was imprisoned, ill-treated and expelled from Iraq more than once.
14. Among these merchants are, just to mention a few names, Hajji Ali Jan, Jasim Neriman and two of his sons and Haider Tawfiq, on charges that they supplied the Kurdish rebels with supplies and funds.
It is worth mentioning in this context, and as two examples, that when relations between the central government in Baghdad and the KDP became tense at the beginning of the sixties and Mr. Mustafa Barzani risked being arrested or assassinated by the security forces, the Faylee Kurds gave him protection and secretly transported him to Kurdistan (from Baghdad to Mosul) in a truck (carrying cereals) driven by the late Khetana Hozali, and that the first Kurdish clandestine radio station was secretly transported from Baghdad to Suleimaniya, by a transport company owned by a Faylee Kurd, the late Amrali Zetali.
15. According to reliable sources a KDP member, Abdul Hussein Faylee, contacted the office of the Grand Ayatollah Abdul Muhsin al-Hakim and convinced them to receive a Kurdish delegation. The Grand Ayatollah agreed and Abdul Hussein Faylee secretly took Jalal Talabani and Shakhawan Shewan to the Grand Ayatollah. After the meeting he issued a Fatwa (religious decree) banning the killing of Kurds.
16. Mentioning these and other names is only a statement of historical facts as they are known now and does not by any means imply a stand on their political convictions and/or acts during the various phases of the development of the Kurdish movement in Iraq or of the situation of Faylee Kurds in Iraq.
17. The Baath regime never accepted the nomination and the late Barzani never changed his decision refusing to give in to demands from some leading figures with the Kurdish movement or to the regime to nominate another Kurd. He refused to compromise on this issue preferring to leave the post vacant than yielding to Baathist discrimination. The regime chose Taha Muhiddin Ma’aroof, its ambassador to Rome and a Kurd to the post, which remained ceremonial and used mostly for propagandistic purposes.
18. Some names figure out repeatedly because they have been in the Kurdish movement for many decades and at various phases of development and cross-roads.
19. To what extend these persons take up issues relating to Faylee Kurds within their respective parties or in other forums is a question the writer cannot answer. However, a hasty watch of the KDP’s and PUK’s satellite TV stations gives the impression that the latter allocates more time to these issues than the former.
20. As late as 2001, 271 asylum seekers, many of them Faylee Kurdish, died and became fodder for sharks when a not see-worthy boat on its way to Australia carrying 400 children, women and men capsized outside Indonesia; those who survived are living a life of misery and pain. Two persons responsible for this crime are currently being tried, a 37 year’s old Egyptian citizen and an Iraqi citizen, Khalid Sharif, who has been handed over by the Sweden to Australia for trial.
21. In the light of what has been said above, what Faylee Kurds need is the formation of lobbies and pressure groups both in Iraq and abroad in order to make their voice heard, their grievances addressed and their problems solved. These lobbies and pressure groups need not be formed of Faylee Kurds only but also of others too and again both in Iraq and abroad where they live.
22. It is in fact in the self-interest of the Kurdish parties to address Faylee Kurds specific problems since in a year or two elections will be held in Iraq, as promised. The votes of these Kurds will be substantial, especially in Baghdad. This means that the winning of the confidence of Faylee Kurds means winning their votes and winning seats in the future Iraqi parliament.
23. It must be pointed out that the same regime granted Iraqi citizenship to any and every Baathist and Arab, regardless of country of origin, after a few years and some immediately whether they came from Mauritania, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria or any other Arab or non-Arab country.
24. Ambassador L. Paul Bremar III, issued a decision in July 2003 restoring Iraqi citizenship to all Faylee Kurds expelled by the former Iraqi regime (Iraq al-Ghad, July 6, 2003). Moreover, the UNHCR has decided to send a legal team to study the problem of refugees in Iraq (al-Zaman, July 20, 2003) and later decided on voluntary return of Iraqi refugees –estimated to be 220.000 in Iran and 200.000-300.000- in Europe (al-Hayat, Baghdad, August 8, 2003). An Iraqi Ministry of the exiled and the expelled has recently been established and began its work at the beginning of September (al-Sharq al-Awsat, September 11, 2003).
According to a source within the Governing Council, Kurdish representatives, namely, of the two main political parties and the independent members, are of the opinion that the vacant seat at the Council after the murder of Aqila al-Hashimi, should go to the Shiite Faylee Kurds who constitute a substantial section of the Iraqi population. They concentrate on two names, Azhar Abd al-Karim and Hedia Askar. (al-Sharq al-Awsat, Arabic daily, October 10, 2003).
25. Faylee Kurds at home and abroad were and still are very enthusiastically, wholeheartedly and openly supportive of the liberation of Iraq by the Coalition and hopeful that this will eventually lead to the restoration of their rights and the return of their Iraqi citizenship and properties.
26. The solution of the Kurdish national issue in Iraq is a necessary pre-condition for solving the Faylee Kurds specific problems but it is not a sufficient one. Faylee Kurds problems can only be solved when the Kurdish movement in Kurdistan Iraq takes a firm stand by insisting on solving these specific problems, not a half-hearted one as it did at the beginning of the nineteen seventies when Faylee Kurds were deported en mass and the Kurdish movement adopted silence on these violations and chose good relations with the Baath regime to the interest of these Kurds and its own self-interests.
27. Ph.D. in Economics and Regional Planning, University of Helsinki, Finland, 1976.
Post Doctoral Research Fee Student, the London School of Economics and Political Science 1977-80.
“Under-underdevelopment, A Regional Case Study of the Kurdish Area in Turkey”, Helsinki, 1976, was the title of his doctor dissertation (which has been a text book taught at the universities of Helsinki, Finland, and Uppsala, Sweden) and has been translated into Turkish and Arabic Alumni member, London School of Economics and Political Science Member of the Swedish Writers´ Union since the eighties of the last century
The writer has also been politically active within the Kurdish movement since 1970, as Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) representative to Finland (1970-1976), in charge of the KDP-Provisional Leadership’s Foreign Relations Office in London (1977-1980), member of the Central Committee and later of the Political Bureau of the Kurdistan Popular Democratic Party (KPDP) and subsequently after the unification of three political parties, of the Kurdistan Unity Party (KUP), and representative of the Kurdistan Front in the Nordic Countries, until 1993, when he left party politics.