Sunday, May 13, 2007


Before our group left the United States, Bob warned us never to use the word "Kurdistan" while in Turkey.

"Okay. Fine. What do I care about 'Kurdistan'?" I thought. "I'm going to northern Iraq." That's all I knew.

But, as I indicated way back where, we were headed into an area that is called the Kurdish Area of Northern Iraq or, in fact, the "Kurdistan Area."


I didn't think much about it either going in or for the first couple of days. Until I was in an office and saw a map on the wall.


"What's this?" I asked.

"A map of Kurdistan," someone said.

I looked at it.

Actually, if you enlarge the print, you'll see, on the left, it's "actually" a map of the Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah provinces of northern Iraq.

I wandered over to another map.

I wasn't paying close attention. It was kind of the same shape. I didn't notice the difference(s).

But then there was this really colorful map (or, should I say, richly colored map):


I have always loved bright colors. I spent some time looking at it. And then, suddenly, I exclaimed: "Hey! Wait a minute! This isn't the same as those other maps!"

(Take a look. There's no "finger" sticking out the east side. And there are these large bodies of water . . . including the Mediterranean Sea (!!??!!).)

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Look closely!" someone suggested.

I looked more closely.

"Hey!" I exclaimed. "There's Diyarbakir! That's in Turkey! . . . And this map includes a part of Syria! . . . And a portion of Iran! . . . Yipes!"

I went back to the second map. I looked closely at the lower left corner: "Map of Kurdistan Region Iraq," it says in the lower left corner.

Suddenly I understood why "Kurdistan" has significant political overtones in Turkey.

Not only do the Kurdish Democratic Party insurgents cause disruptions in Turkey, but there seem to be those who are willing to declare their aspirations to take control of a large part of eastern Turkey. . . .

That last map is a political time-bomb. It would be as if some Mexican nationalists published a map of "Greater Mexico" that included Texas, New Mexico, a large part of Arizona and most of California and indicated this territory is appropriately part of "Greater Aztlan." [Oh! Sorry! That is actually being done. Or has been done. "No reason to fear," we are told. . . . --But I need to blog about that separately.]

Someone said, "I once saw a map of Hungary that was about three times larger than the actual political boundaries of Hungary. Y'know, everyone needs their lebensraum ('living space'--a reference to Nazi Germany)."


I did some searching on the web today in order to find out how much territory this last map of "Kurdistan" covers.

You get a good sense of the territory--and why they want to claim the territory--by looking at this map from


Well. That's almost enough on Kurdistan. Except for their flag, in all its beauty:

I had the opportunity to purchase a map and a flag before we left the country. And I took the opportunity.

Bob found out.

"John," he said. "We had an agreement. We are not going to say anything or carry anything across the border that says anything about Kurdistan on it."

"But I thought that was coming into the country."

"No. Either direction," he said. "I need to have your word that you will get rid of that stuff."

"I've buried it deep. . . ."

I gave my map and flag away to people who were staying in Kurdistan. Uh, northern Iraq.
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