On the Eve of Kurdistan's Referendum

Country Director, Billy Ray, dances next to Mayor Kak Krmanj of Soran celebrating Kurdistan. 

Country Director, Billy Ray, dances next to Mayor Kak Krmanj of Soran celebrating Kurdistan. 

This year marks our 15th year living in a land not our own—seeking to understand a people we did not grow up with, working within a set of rules so foreign to our own. This is the land of centuries old family feuds, tribal wars, and desecrating armies. ISIS showed us that the spark of hate can sometimes be all that is necessary for the eradication of whole people groups and the resurrection of ancient borders long forgotten.

Now, we are witnessing the potential redrawing of the map. The Kurds in Iraq’s northern provinces are launching out on a road to self-determination somewhat akin to the ‘rebellion’ of our forefathers who had had enough of imperial subjugation. Tomorrow they will vote to secede from the country of Iraq and form their own independent country. The vote itself does not have any immediate administrative effects, but it could be a lightning bolt to the region’s Kurdish populations energizing their aspirations into statehood.

Western and neighboring powers rightly fear the full throated declaration of freedom in these trying times. With oil wealth yet to be extracted from beneath the Kurdish soil and an army to defend their own, they know that their cries are not uttered in vain. The Kurds will be free, and the powers that be best get on board.

Take a moment and dare to dream of a future where Kurds, Arabs, Turks, Persians, Yazidis, Christians, Muslims, and Jews can live at peace… and consider that it might have all started in a land called Kurdistan.