Mountains, Mines and Memories: The Idea of Kurdistan

November 6, 2014 - Picnic Time

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Francesca Recchia, Picnic in a Minefield (Foxhead Books, 2014).

We have listened a tales of soldiers, diplomats, journalists, and charitable assist workers. They have chronicled a American advance of Iraq in 2003 and a quarrel that followed, pity perspectives and observations that have spin informed to us. Their nuanced arguments and biases have helped figure a memory of a quarrel and a Iraq that was left behind. Now, 3 years after a final quarrel infantry were withdrawn, adequate time has upheld for authors to start producing critical novella and contemplative memoirs. At a same time, their musings lift some coercion as Iraq has once again spiraled out of control. It is in this space that we find Francesca Recchia’s voice narrating a story of her practice in Iraqi Kurdistan from 2008-2010, as good as observations from her many new travels in 2014. Recchia’s new book Picnic in a Minefield places us during a core of life, loss, and wish in Kurdistan’s Erbil and provides a singular discernment into a stream events that have once again brought a Kurds to a forefront of a world.

Recchia is an Italian educational who left Europe for a position during a University of Kurdistan Hawler (UKH) in Erbil, Iraq in a hopes of expanding her veteran horizons as an educator. In a march of dual years, Recchia practice life in many opposite circles. She transitions between guest, traveler, teacher, and coach with an palliate that disarms those who competence mount in her way. It is from a singular perspectives of both her veteran work during a UKH and her personal interactions with locals that Kurdistan is done genuine for a reader. Through Recchia’s travels, a soldiers, diplomats, reporters and charitable assist workers that customarily recount a common Iraq experience, are bright for a reader from a new perspective. She reports their actions, thoughts and intentions in a judicious and clear observations of a self-aware and common narrator.

At UKH, Recchia hurdles her students to hunt for their possess singular temperament and insightfully realizes that what she is training is reduction critical than how she teaches. The sourroundings she creates for her students becomes a loyal prize. She comes face to face with a existence of gender formed assault and a onslaught for equivalence even within a comparatively on-going circles of Iraqi Kurdistan. The disproportion between her personal practice and open interactions between organisation and women is poignantly illustrated in her outline of a pointed courtship of dual of her students. She manages a polarizing subject of gendered assault deftly, both in chairman and in a book; framing it, addressing it, and afterwards fast relocating on. These discouraging practice are offset by her interactions with Kurdish and Arab women via a book and leave a reader with a absolute comment of life in Kurdistan for women.

The author’s knowledge is not singular to a proportions of a University and Erbil. She ranges apart afield opposite Kurdistan and it is on these forays that we find her account and observations during their strongest. Recchia’s personal originality with dispute zones and their secret dangers are manifested in a participation of mines and her steady encounters with these dark and unenlightened objects of war. She finds them on a side of a mountain, during an deserted villa of Saddam Hussein, and along a corner of a oldest total aqueduct in a world. Land mines are as many a partial of Kurdistan as a people and they figure a psychology of a Kurds as many as they do a embankment of a plateau they inhabit. The book captures this attribute with a significant proceed of an academic, a regard of an anthropologist, and a startle of someone unknowingly unprotected for a initial time to a hazard as guileful and pervasive as landmines. Perhaps a usually thesis some-more widespread than landmines in her book is a Peshmerga. Recchia finds these legends—some still vital in a mountains, others prolonged left in a prisons of Amna Suraka—and listens to a stories of both a vital and a dead. By doing so she captures a hint of Kurdish nationalism and how it defines their hopes and aspirations for a destiny of a Kurdish people.

We are left looking brazen from a carefree 2010, where “Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are successful and expanding during breakneck speed in an roughly unfortunate try to spin a destiny into a present.” Recchia’s Picnic in a Minefield sketches Kurdistan as it was on a eve of a American withdrawal from Iraq. There are hints here during what Afghanistan’s Kabul might demeanour like in a not too apart future. When Recchia earnings to Erbil in 2014, we can't assistance though hear my possess knowledge in Kabul echoing in her voice. She finds paved roads where before there were none. Cranes dot a skyline, pulling petrify and steel skyward where once there was zero though vacant, dirt blown lots. Both Erbil and Kabul onslaught underneath burgeoning populations of immigrants who find security, preparation for their children and a relations mercantile opportunities supposing in a city. The change of gait in these dual cities is both disconcerting and comforting. Although a city Recchia earnings to has physically changed, a essence stays a same and a mural she crafts leaves us with an picture of what exists today, a glance of a future, and a vivid memory of a cost of dispute in a land of imperishable people and mountains.

It is usually now, some 4 years later, that we have come to comprehend that for Kurdistan, a destiny binds some-more war. Recchia earnings to Erbil in a summer of 2014 as a new call of aroused extremism sweeps opposite Syria and Iraq. She finds an American lerned and versed Iraqi army disintegrating into a darkness, a usually explanation of years of bid are uniforms left along roadsides and caches of weapons and apparatus that have depressed into a hands of ISIL. A mottled opening by a Peshmerga with a subsidy of American airpower manages to branch a surging waves of ISIL.

The Kurdish materialisation is maybe best exemplified with their constraint of Kirkuk after a Iraqi army deserted it.  It is presumably in this singular act that a West sees a glance of what Recchia believes: that a Kurds have what a Iraqi army lacked—a will to fight. For a Kurds there appears to be no choice to desert their lands, no desertion or collusion with a enemy. In a partial of a universe where so many groups seem to be grappling with or using from their history, a Kurds seem to have singular mindedly faced their future. As certainly as Syria and Iraq have descended into chaos, a probability of an eccentric Kurdistan appears within reach. The wish of Iraqi Kurdistan presents itself in a voice of Nurmin Osman, one of a initial Kurdish women to join a Peshmerga. She tells Recchia: “Do we know because a Kurdish onslaught can usually succeed? Because ours was not a dream. We have never fought for a dreams. We usually usually fought for a rights.” This echoes of some perceptible destiny for Kurdistan and Recchia leaves us with a provocative image, watching that “[Kurdistan] is a home of a stateless people that feels closer to Israel than to Palestine…”

The fable of a Peshmerga might not be a idealized picture of a cohesive insurgency that Recchia experiences. The Peshmerga is not simply a one inhabitant army of Kurdistan. Instead, like Afghanistan’s mujahidin, they are a collection of internal army joined opposite a common enemy, nonetheless fractured by inhabitant politics and loyalties to internal powerbrokers. Whether or not Kurdistan would be means to oversee and amply control a Peshmerga absent an existential hazard stays an critical and unanswered question. The Afghan knowledge would advise that what comes after a better of a common rivalry might good be a many formidable partial of a conflict for independence.

Recchia set out for Iraqi Kurdistan in hunt of herself. Along a proceed it is satisfactory to contend she found an whole organisation of people in hunt of themselves, their possess identities, and perhaps, their possess nation. These dual arcs, one particular and one collective, join in Picnic in a Minefield and yield a constrained account that gives discernment into a life of resistance, a gait of change, and a guarantee of a Kurdistan.

Ty Mayfield is a Political Affairs Strategist in a U.S. Air Force and binds a MA in International Relations from a University of Oklahoma and a MA in National Security Studies from a Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Ty is participating in a Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff destined AFPAK Hands module and splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Kabul, Afghanistan.  The views voiced in this essay are those of a author and do not simulate a central process or position of a United States Air Force, a Department of Defense, or a U.S. Government.

Image: G2musicgroup, CC

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