Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Dear Friend President Talabani

Sam Ghandchi

دوست عزیز پرزیدنت طالبانی


P.S. Oct 1, 2017:Announcing Change of Position to Opposing any form of Federalism for Iran 
بعدالتحریر اول ماه اکتبر 2017: اعلام تغییر موضع به مخالفت با هرگونه فدرالیسم برای ایران



For years I have argued for a federal model for Iran's government, with the focus of my analysis being on the experience of Iran's Kurdistan, when at the same time clearly showing that separation of Kurdistan is not to the advantage of Iranian Kurds  []


At the same time, I always avoided to say anything about what is to the advantage of the people of former Kurdistan of the Ottoman Empire, which is an issue best dealt with by those who focus on Kurdistan of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and other parts of the former Ottoman Empire.


Why I am writing this letter is not because of wanting to interfere in what the Iraqi people including the Kurds see as the best plan for themselves, but rather to note an observation as an Iranian *outside* observer, which may give you another perspective to consider if possible.


I believe the achievement of having a Kurd as president of a country in the Middle East is of an utmost historic importance when we know that basically the Kurds had been kept out of the development of central states in all countries of the region for centuries.  The new role of Kurds in Iraqi central state can be an opportunity, if it does not get bogged down in ethic squabbles, although being truthful to the Kurdish constituency that made he current state of affairs possible.


Let me give a historical example.  When Civil War ended in the U.S., Abraham Lincoln stayed truthful to his constituency of northern states who had made it possible to win the war against the states that opposed Abolition of Slavery, but in his famous speech he made sure to bridge the divide and speak for all Americans and show his commitment to democracy and human rights above any state perspective.  In fact, Confederacy's error was that it thought of priority of federalism's right of individual states over central government's protection of the *human* right of abolition of slavery, and thus saw it as the ground to support the states wanting to retain slavery [].  In contrast, Lincoln even after the end of the war showed that what took priority is the *human* right of every American over any desire of any particular state including the desires of Northern states that were now the *victors* .  This is why in the U.S. history after the Civil War, the perspective of "Victors" versus the "Losers" was hardly present and the nation stayed united rather than reviving the divide in later dates.


I think in Iraq you have the historic opportunity to do the same with regards to the Sunni Arab population.  It is true that there is the sensitivity to federalism among the Sunni population, but only by showing that democracy and human rights have higher priority over ethnic rights of any state, you will set the precedence that even as *victors*, the Kurds are for human rights and not oppression of Kurds over Arabs to retaliate previous oppression of Arabs over the Kurds.


This way you can get the Sunni Arab population to participate in building a modern democracy in Iraq without fear of any ethnic repraisals.  Actually federalism has nothing to do with ethnic division, and it is about creating checks and balances to better serve democracy [].  But it is easy to understand how the ethnic misunderstanding can happen, when even almost a century after federal state existed in the U.S., still half of the country at the time of Civil War misunderstood federalism, as if federalism meant an individual state could deny a higher right of freedom versus slavery, on the basis of state's right.  So it is very understandable how a plan for federalism in Iran or Iraq can be misunderstood and only patiently educating the people will make progress possible.  I am not suggesting to drop the demand for federalism, but I am talking of leading the efforts to sincerely have the Sunni population to participate in Iraq's life especially in the Kurdish areas and making sure to show the Arabs that federalism is not about ethnic divides, rather it is about *checks and balances*.


It is unbelievable to see so many suicide attacks in Iraq today.  Al-Qaedeh was not that influential in Iraq before the fall of Saddam and the fall of Baath Party has helped them to recruit in Iraq, because a democratic alternative for the Sunni Arabs has not ushered in as the dominant perspective among the Sunni Arabs, and they are becoming alienated along ethnic and religious lines.  And someone like yourself at the helm of Iraq, makes it possible to extend a hand to the Arabs and set a new precedence that ethnic oppression is a thing of the past.


This is a historic moment for the Kurds in Iraq to show how they can play a significant role in heading a multi-national modern democratic state in the Middle East.  This is a challenge way beyond governing an ethnic group.  This is the same way many forward-thinking Chinese people played significant roles in Singapore and many South East Asian countries when forming modern states in the last half century.  Words about a separate Kurdish state only hurts the status of Kurds in the separate countries that they live in when they have such historic opportunity to be instrumental in all these countries to form democracy and regional friendship than wars.


And actually if a Kurdish state is ever created by some of the Kurds in Turkey, it can only become a target for prolonged war and devastation for the Kurds and other people of the Middle East, where every reactionary state will use them to instigate national feelings and as a scapegoat to cover their own shortcomings, the same way many reactionary Arab states in the last 50 years have used attacks on Israel to cover the lack of democracy and modernism in their own countries.  As I have shown in my book in the case of Iran [], all such talks of Greater Kurdistan, at least as far as Iranian Kurdistan is concerned, only result in nothing but hurting the chances of success of Iranian Kurds to bring about a modern future for the Kurds and other Iranians.


Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi

October 2, 2005
















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