Survivors for centuries in one of the Middle East’s roughest neighborhoods, Iraq’s Kurds have learned to keep their options open. However, any lingering doubt that they might be aiming for independence sooner rather than later vanished this month with the sudden appearance of a Kurdish “national anthem” on the Kurdistan Regional Government website.
“Ey Reqib”, or “Hey, Enemy”, was written in 1938 by Yunis Reuf, a Kurdish poet and anti-Ottoman political activist also known as Dildar, who was born 20 years earlier in the town of Koi Sanjaq in what is now the Erbil governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan. Before dying at age 31 of heart problems, Dildar saw his poem adopted as the national anthem of the Kurdistan republic in Mahabad (currently part of Iran), which was founded in 1946 and lasted for only a year.
Now the KRG has proclaimed it the official anthem of South Kurdistan, an alternative name for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It’s a name that tips its hat to the long-held Kurdish ambition of establishing a Greater Kurdistan state encompassing parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.