Kurds, statelessness, and what sets them apart

By December 10, 2019

Middle East (MNN) – The Kurds face a lot of challenges, but one of their foremost problems is land; they don’t have any to call their own. SAT-7, a satellite TV ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, broadcasts programming that makes God’s love visible in the Middle East.

The Kurds and Statelessness

One of the principles SAT-7 programs focus on is how each person has a right to be treated equally under the law and live without discrimination or segregation in society. That includes the Kurds. However, their situation poses some challenges.

“But if you look at the Kurds, they’re spread over five countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and a few other places. They actually hold a passport in these different countries. They can vote in those countries. They have a national identity,” says Terry Ascott, founder and president of SAT-7.

These rights separate the Kurds from what defines other stateless people, such as Palestinians living in the West Bank who do not share the same privileges.

Tug-of-Land in Iraq

What the Kurds do not have is a sovereign state. Kurdistan is not a country, but a region in Iraq where Kurds have a certain degree of autonomy. Ascott says if the Kurds had their own country, it would likely be one of the largest countries in the Middle East. In 2017, the Kurds held a referendum for independence from Iraq. They had hoped their fight against ISIS would help win them even more autonomy. This backfired.

“The government actually took away some of the territories they were holding and access to income-generating oil and gas reserves, and actually closed their airport…And, of course, there was pressure from Turkey and Iran, too, who do not want to see an independent Kurdistan established,” Ascott says.

Not Politics, But Prayer

It appears it is unlikely the Kurds will attain an independent state. SAT-7 does not engage with politics, but Ascott does invite you to pray for Kurdish believers.

“Pray for the Christians in the middle of these different conflict zones. They’re in all of these areas and they can be salt and light. They can be a healing balm in these conflict areas,” Ascott says.

pixabayPray for justice. Pray for the Kurdish people as they face challenges on multiple sides. And please, pray for the perseverance of Kurdish believers.

“The Christian Gospel of turning the other cheek, of forgiveness, of reconciliation, these are very powerful in areas of the world where an eye for an eye is the norm, head for a head is the norm. It’s very hard to break the cycle of retaliatory violence. The Christian Gospel has shown itself repeatedly as an amazing light to be sought,” Ascott says.

Pray for this message to bring peace, too.

Learn more about SAT-7 and how to support its work here.


Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-cultural region spanning parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population.



Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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