by Janet Ritz
[2/28/08: updated article here]
Who are the Kurds? Who are these Middle Eastern people that have both men and women in their army? Who are these mountain warriors that their neighbors refer to as the 'best fighters in the Middle East'; these ancient people whom claim descent from the Biblical Medes?
Since it's a good idea to know who we (the American people) are doing business with, I thought I'd put in my two cents based on actual experience; time I've spent with the Kurds and the seven years of research I've done about them for a book. It's a long post, but they're an ancient people, so, forgive me if there's a lot to say.
The Kurds are the original Aryans (a term absconded by the Nazis, much like they stole the swastika from the Hindus). It means to be of noble birth, an Indo-European-Iranian people, not Semitic (Arab) or Turkish.
Note: The name Iran also comes from Aryan; it means to be of Aryan birth.
To explore the nature of the Kurds, it is important to understand this sense of nobility; the pride with which they claim (and are most probably correct) descent from a people who used to run the world in the seventh and sixth century, BCE. These were the biblical Medes, the original Aryan (Indo-European) people of the Zagros Mountains.
A people whose history extends back to ruling the largest empire of the pre-Persian age. To be able, in many cases, to trace their own lineage back to those times. To know that, when Saddam Hussein gassed Halabja in 1988, many of the thousands of peoples he killed were descended from kings, generals, Magi (the Zoroastrian priests of the Medes).
The Magi, the three wise men from the Bible. They were Medes, as was Cyrus the Great (half-Mede), and Saladin (by then, they were called Kurds), the ruler who defeated Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade.
But were the Kurds only Medes, this noble aryan lineage? Not exclusively. They also trace back to the Hurrians, an indigenous people from Turkey and a tribe from the Zagros Mountain region near modern day Kirkuk (and this is key) called the Gutii or Cadusii (or both).