Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I am going to revive the idea of this blog as a personal journal even though that interests very few people, simply because those are the posts that I enjoy rereading. An audience of one is of course infinitely greater than an audience of zero. My life is pretty boring, however, it is nice to be able to see what I have been doing in past years. So starting today I am going to try and again redirect this blog in the direction of being an electronic diary.

Today after I woke up I had a brief video chat with my wife and daughter in Kyrgyzstan. Then I took a taxi to work. There I had a typical Kurdish lunch of rice, beans (black eyed peas) in tomato sauce, and chicken. Anwar, who is both the head cook and frequently the server has taken to only speaking to me in Kurdish. I think Steve told him to do this last semester. In fact I think Steve told a lot of people this. At any rate the meal was adequate, but nothing unusual.

After lunch I wandered over to the academic building. I stopped to talk to Alan for a bit before heading up to my office. In my office I finished most of the editing on my syllabi for this semester which starts on Sunday. I will put the final touches on them and get them printed tomorrow. I then took the bus back home.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recent Doings

The last couple of days I have been going into work on the 9:00 am bus and coming back on the 4:30 pm one. I haven't been super productive. But, I have gotten some revision done on my World History since 1945 syllabus. I have also made some progress on my article on Kurds in the USSR. Although it is still coming along slowly. But, 200 to 500 words a day is a lot faster than zero words a day. I also established a small library on Kurdish history in my office with a sign and everything. Granted it only has six books in it now. I aim to more than double that after I finish reading the other Kurdish history books I have at my flat.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Trying to Follow Kurdish Political History

The political history of Kurdistan starts to get complicated in 1975 after the PUK splits from the KDP. It starts to get really complicated after the 1991 Gulf War. From 1992 on trying to follow all the factions in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria and their various international alliances gets progressively more difficult. The entire decade of the 1990s was one of shifting relations between the KDP, PUK, IMK, PKK, KDPI, Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, Damascus, Paris, and Washington DC.

Blogging in 2017

Based on the number of comments this blog gets and some other information this blog has exactly three human readers of which two are my parents. I suspect this is because the topics I blog about are of no interest to anybody else other than us four. I know all writing aims at niche markets, but three people is the type of audience private letters rather than public blogs garner. There is no helping it, however. It has been this way for years and nothing can be done to change it.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Partial English Language Bibliography on Kurds

Aziz, Mahir A., The Kurds of Iraq: Nationalism and Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015).

Bengio, Ofra, The Kurds of Iraq: Building  a State Within a State (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012).

Bulloch, John and Morris, Harvey, No Friends But the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Edmonds, C.J., Kurds, Turks and Arabs: Politics, Travel and Research in North-Eastern Iraq: 1919-1925 (London: Oxford University Press, 1957).

Jabar, Felah A. and Dawod, Hosham, eds., The Kurds: Nationalism and Politics (London: SAQI, 2006).

Jwaideh, Wadie, The Kurdish Ntional Movement: Its Origins and Development (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006).

McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, Third Revised Edition, (London, I.B. Tauris, 2007).

Natali, Denise, The Kurds and the State: Evolving Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005).

Phillips, David L., The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East (London: Transaction Publishers, 2015).

Randal, Jonathan C., After such Knowledge. What Forgiveness?: My Enounters with Kurdistan (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Brief Note on Kurds in Comparative Context in the Last Century

The Kurds are unusual among people struggling for self determination during the late 20th Century in a couple of aspects. First, they ended up divided among five different states instead of concentrated in only one. Second, after 1946 they ceased to be under the rule of any of the European colonial powers. Instead they came under the rule of independent states engaging in nationalizing rather than imperial projects of state building. Projects that had the tacit support of an international community that strongly opposed changing the political boundaries of existing post-colonial states, especially by armed force. Thus the Kurds had two distinct disadvantages that national liberation movements in places like Algeria, Kenya, and Angola did not.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Easing Back Into Work

Today I returned to the office for the first time since before Christmas. I did not get a huge amount of work done. But, I did get some done. First, I downloaded a bunch of files I had on my laptop at home on to a pen drive and then uploaded them onto my work laptop. Then I wrote up a peer review for a journal article that I had been putting off. I then actually wrote 500 words on the article dealing with Kurds in the USSR I have been making slow progress on since August. It is currently up to 3000 words. Now that I don't have classes for a while I hope to be able to finish it. Finally, I tried out my new "I Love Slemani" tea mug I bought especially for work. At home I use one that has a Kurdish flag on it and says "I Love Kurdistan."

Kurds in the Red Army and Partisans during WWII

I am not sure if it is pure coincidence or some expression of a deeply rooted cultural trait. But, Kurds in the USSR during World War II seemed to have the same two military specializations that they later demonstrated in Iraq so well. The first is marksmanship. A lot of Kurds in the Red Army served as snipers. The second is the ability to organize guerrilla organizations. Kurds organized and led a number of partisan detachments that fought against the Nazis during World War II not only in the USSR but, even one outside Paris.