Although I was not born in Kirkuk and spent very limited time there, the city has a deep impact on my personality and emotions, which cultivated my solid devotion to the place. There are many reasons for those feelings, some of which are based on the historical facts and some of which might have developed with my emotions and motivated by my personal feelings.
Beyond doubt, I admit that there are numerous diverse articles, books and theories based on facts as well as fictional information related to Kirkuk. Sometimes a neutral person can have difficulty in sorting the truth from the various political and self-serving commotions. My purpose is to share my facts and thoughts with my feelings with the interested readers.
Firstly, I would like to state the fact that Kirkuk has been the home town of my family at least for over 350 years. My family name was known at first as Qardar or Qardar Zade and later changed to Kirdar for simplicity as well as for the unity with their Turkish family branch after the formation of Iraq in 1924 following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Kirkuk has always been considered the main city and the capital of Turkmens during and also after the formation of Iraq. It was a wonderful example as a city, where people consisting of diverse ethnicities lived peacefully and in harmony for a long period of time.
My family history is briefly recorded and referred in recently published books by my brother Nemir Kirdar titled Saving Iraq (2009), In Pursuit of Fulfillment (2012) and The Memories of a Vision: Need, Respect, Trust (2013). I see no reason to repeat them. I suffice to say that we do have Kirdar Mosque in Kirkuk, which was built by my great-grandfather Hajj Mustafa Kirdar, and where he, my grandfathers and my father were buried. Kirdar’s name has a reputation in Kirkuk along with other highly respected families, which has made major social, cultural, economic and political contributions to the city.
Kirkuk has a long history, which goes back to Abraham’s time. It has always been a very important and strategic town with its significant impact to its area religiously, ethnically, socially, militarily as well as economically and administratively. Residents of Kirkuk are generally calm, peaceful and cooperative people. In my opinion, they do have their own desires and goals, but they also accept the realities in a peaceful way. Personally, I remember very vividly that most of the people including my family were upset for the 1958 Iraqi revolution, which has damaged the political stability in Iraq. But nevertheless, as the young Turkmens had to accept the new reality of the country, they decided to welcome and cooperate with the new regime rather than fighting against it. I joined at least to one of the Turkmen delegations even though I was not interested in politics as a young engineer but still felt that I needed to show my solidarity with my Turkmen fellows. So I personally joined to a group and met with General Abdul Karim Qasem, who was the revolutionary leader at that time. In spite of our cooperation as Turkmens, unfortunately, the 1959 Kirkuk massacre targeting Turkmens took place and its atrocity and traces still cannot be forgotten. I personally left Kirkuk at the end of January 1959 with a broken heart and hoped to return back to my homeland, which never happened.
Unfortunately, Kirkuk has entered into a disputed stage by the efforts of various groups, which are dynamically trying to change its historical facts and realities to serve for their own purposes. I sadly witness that some of these groups justify every means to implement and reach to their objective including but not limited to accusing people falsely, burning properties, murdering people and changing the established historical site names and evidences. In spite of all these adversaries, we need to remember that one of the most driving factors of our lives is hope with determination. If we lose our hope, we lose everything. We should never lose our hope or minimize its effectiveness. Hoping with determination and good planning with unity can serve as an enlightening guide for our near future to live with dignity, honesty and self-respect in our community. How can we reason calmly and try to put our efforts to reach that goal? How can we measure dignity, honesty and self-respect if we lose our identity and hope? Where and how can we compromise? These are reasonable and crucial questions, which need proper and acceptable answers.
In summary, Kirkuk is important for me because I am its product. I honestly believe that Kirkuk can restore its legendry as a peaceful place in the area if its people are treated equally with respect. The reality is that Kirkuk is a Turkmen city and it will always carry its Turkmen characteristics even though the Turkmen community is artificially alleged to be a minority in their own town by recent demographic and political changes. I hope and pray that the common sense will rule over and peace with harmony will return to my special lovely town Kirkuk.
Arizona, April 2015