On Kurdish identity
Russian author and political scientist Aleksandr Dugin is visiting the Kurdistan Region to speak on identity in politics and to learn about the Kurdish people in a sociological way and their aspirations for independence.
During his speech at the Rudaw Research Center in Erbil, Dugin spoke about ethnology, as well as modern political dilemmas in Iraq, Syria and Russia influence and involvement in the region.
Dugin is seen as a controversial figure by some for his nationalistic and post-Soviet Union views, as well as theories on Western society destroying identity.
Rudaw: What is the purpose for your visit to the Kurdistan Region and what have you learned here?
Aleksandr Dugin: I am invited to deliver a lecture concerning geopolitics of the Kurdish region, of Kurdish people, concerning Kurdish identity – how we understand it in the geopolitical science, the ethno-sociological science I am developing in Russia. It is my first visit in Iraq and in Kurdistan and the Kurdish area, to Erbil. I am very happy because it is the first time I get to know better Kurds, to understand desires of Kurdish people, to speak with different personalities of academic circles, of political circles. It is a first meeting with the Kurdish people. I know some Kurds in Russia and elsewhere, but it is the first time that I am in the land of Kurds, that is very important. In my understanding, in my geopolitical vision, we need to have a taste of the earth, of the land. Because, in order to understand identity of the people, we need first of all to make acquaintance with the soil, with the earth, because every identity has roots and in order to better understand Kurdish identity and the future of Kurdistan, we need to be there on the ground, I would say.
Kurdish people are seeking independence and they also need the international support of the US and Russia, the two major players on the world’s political ground. Do you think that Vladimir Putin or Russia will support the Kurdistan Region?
The Kurdish question is a very, very complicated one, complex one. In order to understand better there is not only one Kurdish people, but the Kurds are distributed in the different countries, in the different circumstances. So independence is a good thing. But before support or reject, recognize or refuse the independence to other great powers of the world, we need to understand better, to know better, to study better, to inquire better and deeper into the question of identity. Now as I long as I understand, Iraq’s Kurdistan is
western liberal civilization refuses to any people the right and the dignity to conserve
going to declare independence and sovereignty. At least there will be a kind of referendum in the autumn that going on, that is in the stage of preparation. It concerns only part of the Kurdish people. Kurds are a much bigger thing and nobody could say what will be the concrete political form of a Kurdish state or what territories and lands it will encompass, it will include. So the answers of these questions depend precisely on the attitudes of Russia, of the West, of the East, of Turkey, of Iran, and other great original powers. So when you take into account, into consideration any player, because it is more or less easy to declare independence, but it’s much more difficult to conserve or to defend it.
We have seen in the post-Soviet period when 15 republics of the ex-Soviet Union declared their independence and most of them are now failed states. It was too early. Absolutely I agree that Kurdish people deserve independence, deserve sovereignty. But, what form of sovereignty it should take – it is open question. As long as I know, Kurds themselves, maybe I am wrong, I will know better during my presence here, have no common basis concerning what it should be –independence. What should be a Kurdish state. What borders, frontiers, how we can define Kurdish identity. Because I am an academic specialist in identity. Ideologically I defend identity and I am studying, I am making inquiries into the depth of the levels of identity. So I could make my proposals to Kurdish people, to advise them to think together. So it is only academic purpose, it is not a political purpose. I am here for an academic purpose. I am
with the Kurdish independence there are so many difficult aspects
going to study the problem of the Kurdish identity in independence. I came here to exchange my position, to hear much more than to talk. I can deliver my vision of the geopolitical aspect of the problem. It is a very complicated problem and maybe during my visit and after that, creating new ties, creating new links, and new friendships with Kurds, we could continue to clarify this problem. But I think that we absolutely need to know is that globalists’ tendency and western liberal civilization refuses to any people the right and the dignity to conserve, to develop, and to defend its own identity. They manipulate the people. For example, they recognize identity for pragmatic reasons for one people and they deny in other people because they have no value of identity. And we Russians, we understand identity as the greatest value.
So we should be very careful dealing with identity because there are many layers of identity, many levels. We need to carefully study them, we need to speak about them, and maybe have debates, because we need to be very sincere and open. Because if we miss something, tomorrow there will be blood, there will be ethnic cleansing, there will be great suffering. In order to diminish their limits, we need to speak frankly, we need to speak openly and sincerely about the problems, not how everything is alright, everybody agrees. So we need to define the points of disagreement. And I think that with the Kurdish independence there are so many difficult aspects so we cannot resolve all or put the problem for independence or against it because it is too complicated.
And I think that during my visit, I hope, I maybe will find some important aspect of the problem. I could propose my personal, scientific understanding of this problem. I will learn. I came to learn how Kurds themselves understand what is going on in Kurdistan,
Kurds as well have different religious options, different kind of Tariqahs and Sufi orders
in Iraq Kurdistan, how you consider the other Kurds and what you think or you hope or you fear will follow. So it is a kind of meeting, maybe the first meeting with Kurdish land and Kurdish people.
I am absolutely sure the final decision belongs to the people and nobody can deny this dignity and this right to the people, but we need to take into consideration not only one people because the people are always surrounded by other peoples, and any people, every people should take in consideration the other. And any error is very, very, very dangerous in that. For example, for Saddam Hussein’s mis-consideration, misconception concerning ethnical and religious identities in Iraq, that was the price of his life. Because if you don’t understand in depth the importance of the identities, your own identities but as well the identities of the other you will pay the terrible price of life, of blood, and of great suffering.
As you know, we are fighting the final quarter in the west of Mosul. How do you think the future, or the post ISIS-Iraq will be? Ethnic, sectarian violence or what?
So first of all, the ideology of radical Sunni Islam destroys identity, any kind of identity. That is dangerous for any people in any country. It is dangerous first of all for Arab Sunnis, and Turkish Sunnis, and Kurdish Sunnis because the other part of it is liberalism. Liberalism destroys identity of the people. ISIS as well does the same with other means but that is the same. Liberalism and radicalism or Sunni fundamentalism, Wahhabism, Salafism, is almost the same from the result because they destroy the identities, the differences. So I think that now it is obvious for any normal Muslim that there is no future in that attitude so this attitude is simplistic, it is violent that destroys human life. It is incompatible with the Quran or with principals of Islamic religion, so I think the fight will be over soon.
But I think that the destiny of post-ISIS Iraq should be decided by Iraqis themselves. We can only suggest this understanding of the importance of the other. There are three peoples, at least. There are Kurds, there are Shia, and there are Sunnis. And I don’t think all Sunnis in Iraq are participants of ISIS. It’s completely wrong, because there are so many Sunnis in the world and the Arab Sunni world
the future of post-ISIS should be multipolar with recognition of the minority
so there is a choice, there is a possibility to choose between different paths to take. So I think that post-ISIS Iraq, it will be multipolar. There will be at least three cultural poles with many aspects – independent and different forms of the expression of the same identity.
I don’t think that Kurds are something homogeneous. Kurds as well have different religious options, different kind of Tariqahs and Sufi orders and groups and subgroups and so on. And we need to take into consideration all this. So I think that the best solution is not the creation of three national states, because it will create immediately the problem of minorities. Because we could not consider or imagine a purely homogeneous Kurdish state. There will be — necessarily — Arabs here, maybe Turkmens others — maybe Shite, Sunni and we cannot consider homogeneous Iraqi and Sunni or Shia state. It isn’t possible because the people live where it lives. So I invite to think in the context of multi-polarity, not uni-polarity, not nationalism of Sunni is as bad as nationalism of Shia or nationalism of Kurds.
Nationalism is based always on the destruction of the identities of the minorities, of suppression, ethnic cleansing. So we need to understand better. And you Kurds, once you have your Kurdish state, you need from the very beginning to think about minorities because they represent the people. They are not only mechanical elements that are a kind of obstacle to create your own state. It is
relations between Iran and Russia are going very well
something living. They are living creatures, they are living beings, because the people with a kind of human soul. So people is the soul, it is freedom. And we need to treat any people, minority or majority, with care and with deep understanding. So I think the future of post-ISIS should be multipolar with recognition of the minority as organic, as living beings with souls, so God’s creatures.
But the West as well isn’t a good example because liberalism destroys the identities. So we need to think beyond the proposals of political majority. Beyond liberalism, beyond communism, and beyond nationalism. I am calling that 4th political theory. I think that in case of Iraq as well as in the case of Kurds it could be very, very important. And I am going to explain what I understand by 4th political theory in my lecture.
Do you think the Iranian elections will affect the relations between Russia and Iran, especially about Syria? They both have common ground in Syria.
First of all I think that Iranian elections, that is the choice of Iranian people. And any choice that Iranian people will make, we will recognize that as a legitimate choice. We could deal in good terms with so called progressive Iranian government that is now represented by President Rouhani or it will be conservative as candidate Raisi. Personally I am inclined, personally, I am inclined towards conservatism. So for myself, I think that Raisi represents conservative traditionalist side of Iranian establishment and it’s better because I like any kind of conservatism and traditionalism in Iran and other countries. But I think we could find a good way to deal with both candidates or with conservatives or with moderate progressive because there are positive sides in both of them. With conservatism, we will have in common their defense of identity, of cultural values, of tradition and so on and as well as rejection of dictatorship of the liberal west and globalization. With moderate progressive, we could deal better in some secular issues, economic maybe or technological.
We will recognize any choice of Iranian people. I personal have more relations with the conservative part of Iranian establish
[we need to help] to make a kind of normal political opposition to Assad
ment. They are the majority of my friends in Iran. I think as Russia is concerned, for us, it is more or less the same because we will find a way to deal with both possible solutions, but we have remarked that the spiritual leader of Iran has pointed out that he would suggest an election of Raisi. And that is very important because Iran is a spiritual country and if a spiritual leader suggests some sort of solution, that is important and I would say he knows better and I have confidence in him. But nevertheless, I am absolutely sure that relations between Iran and Russia are going very well and they will develop in the future. We have more or less a common vision of the absolute majority of the regional issues in any field our geopolitical positions coincide.
What will happen to all of those parties on different sides in Geneva, do you think there will be some sort of reconciliation?
First of all, I would like to stress that there is real progress in Syria when the regional states begin to cooperate. First of all Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Syria itself. When there are Turkey, Russia, Iran discussing the issue in Syria, we have all cuts. After that we need to take into consideration as well opposition. Sunni opposition, Arab opposition, as well Kurds opposition, Turkmen but that is very bottom factors, but first of all regional powers. When we have common vision, the majority of obstacles are already put out.
What does Russia want to accomplish?
I think that Russia is interested in the peaceful solution. First of all we are partisan for the unity of Syria. We defend a unified Syria. Maybe there’s much more rights for regional identities, but unified. That is first. Second, we think that we need to understand the situation in the following way. First peace, after the problem, Assad. Not Assad first. The issue of Assad should follow the peace. I think that we absolutely need to take into consideration Turkish interests, Arab interests, Kurdish identity, Kurds fighting there against ISIS first of all, but the situation is so complicated. So we could not support one force and fight the other. First of all we need to create a unified front against radicalism and against extremism so we need to create the front against war and war mongers, the people who kill the others because they are the others — so Kurds because they are Kurds, or Christians because they are Christians, Shia because they are Shia and so on. Or for example, Sunni because they are not Salafi. That is the real danger.
When it will be finished, we will be in a completely new situation. And if the United States with Trump, will at least follow all of the promises of the election campaigns and stay a little bit at the distance, not to support terrorists we will have the window of opportunity to solve peacefully the Syrian problem. And in that case what means peacefully? It means that Kurds, Alevis, Christians, Armenians,
the only solution in Syria should be multipolar
Sunni, Turkmen, everybody will have a granted right of life. Now is not the problem of better or worse solution, the problem is fighting for the possibility to live. And peace is currency for that possibility to live, first of all. And after I think we need to create or help to create, and we have already began to do that, to make a kind of normal political opposition to Assad. So that will recognize the unity of Syria and peace rather than war.
After that everything will follow. If they have something against Assad, they could say openly after peace and unity of Syria. If they have something concerning some plans, concerning the future identity inside of Syria, they could speak freely. And Russia, Turkey, Iran should guarantee for this peaceful talk, but not now.
We could not speak about that because that fuels hatred if we, for example, if we insist on such solution, other solution, if we support one force against the other, it makes the situation and the violence, and the sufferings of real people more and more dangerous. That helps to increase the violence and we need to make quite opposite. So I think that we are taking in consideration Kurdish interests, but not only Kurdish interests but Alevi, Syrian, Turkmen, any other, Armenian, Christian. We need to understand everybody. The only solution in Syria should be multipolar. We need to understand the differences and multitude of actors. It is not only oppositions and Assad, Russians against Americans, Turks against Kurds. It’s much more complicated and we need to solve this in the most human and reasonable way.