Didar Masifi


Last week I met an Italian-Canadian guy who was coordinating a meeting with a Napoleonic build, university professor lady. The meeting was held to discuss and solve problems of children of some immigrant communities. I was invited by a friend of mine who works as a translator and educational broker. And we both had a chance to speak about some issues that faces the Kurdish community.

 As soon as the meeting finished, that Italian gentleman started to talk to me like a close friend overwhelmed by the way I spoke.

“You’re so familiar to me I think I’ve met you before.” He said to me.

“Do you play for Karkuk” He continued.

Karkuk! This was a big surprise for me especially hearing this hot and lovely name from a stranger’s mouth in a very far away cold land. But hopefully he mentioned Karkuk’s name as sport team not a place for conflict.

He didn’t wait for my respond especially after seeing many surprising puzzles in my face.

“Oh! Never mind it is a soccer team” He added.

He had a gray moustache and goatee bear that gave him an appearance of leftist. But if he had been shaved he would have been some one like Robert Dinero.

I told him that in my adolescent I used to play soccer but on concrete and one day my nose was broke. Consequently, I quit this popular sport and went for reading books.

“By the way Paulo Rossi was my favored player; I read Palomar by Italo Calvino” I said.

He didn’t care about these two selfish responds as much as he focused on being a Kurd from Karkuk even though I haven’t been I asked if I were.

 But like that bad habit among Kurds of Iraq I think he tried to use the word of Karkuky as a synonym for an immigrant person. Oh! I’m speaking for myself.

Karkuk was still our main subject in a friendly conversation lasted couple of minuets.

“You played on concrete, where the plentiful oil of Karkuk can make the whole county a green soccer field”

“I’m not from Karkuk” I told him.

But I have many friends who came from this city and who might also have been played soccer on concrete just like me and their noses were broke too.

He was in hurry to take his wife to shopping for our conversation wasn’t lucky to continue.

We were both like two busy characters who had to leave a stage in the middle of unfinished play. And just like the case of Karkuk and postponing discussions to define its identity.   

Here a short play to replace our roles.

You from Karkuk” The old man asked wryly.

“No” The young man replied.

“Yes, you are” The old man said.

“No I’m not” The young man insisted.

“But you are an immigrant” The old man said ironically.

“So! What!” The young man said.

“Aren’t a Karkuky and an immigrant two faces for the same coin” The old man asked.

“Who told you that?” The young man threw back an angry question.  

“Oh! I apologize to you sir, a Kurdish from your race told me that” He said.

“Never mind you haven’t been lucky to meet a good one” The young man said.

“A good Kurd doesn’t see a Karkuky as metaphor for immigrant person” He continued.

“Talk about your story of your broken nose” The old man tried to change the subject.

The young man didn’t talk.

The play ended.

Days after a passer by decided to be an audience, so roughly she collected these echoes from the air.

Karkuk! Immigrant! Bad Kurd! Broken Nose!?

As soon as I’ve got home in that a busy rainy day and a friendly meeting, I turn on my computer and goggled on Karkuk, hoping to find that sport soccer team. Moments in waiting there were 29000 sites and subjects, so with lack of time it was impossible to find a small sport team among all these huge number of writings about Karkuk. I clicked on some but most of them didn’t satisfy me.

Articles written by Assyrian and Turkmen writers whose articles smelled the chauvinism of the Baath.   

I read them with a great passion like not being a Kurd or some who doesn’t belong to any ethnic chaos. But still I felt something wrong is going on about reading the reality of Karkuk that can lead unwittingly to a tragic civil war.

Most of those writers focused about the historical background of the word of Karkuk. 

Assyrians say that Karkuk in Syriac means Karka dBait Sluk.

Turkument didn’t agree so they insisted that Karkuk came from a Turkumani Kerluk which means partridge, a common bird in that region.

Kurds go back to something further written by the Greek historians. If not article no.58 but to the time when Alexander, the Great was standing in front of flames of Baba Gurgur to describe the land by Kirkeny which means the castle of Kurds in the old Kurdish dialect.

I didn’t find any claims neither by Arabs nor by Armenian, or any other ethnic groups which have a remained poor member in this unhappy city.

 To define the identity of a city like Karkuk something has to be done demographically by independent scholars. If all people go back to the past and claiming the ownership of today existing places just by the meaning of their names, the world would become more chaotic. Both American continents would go to the Italian, because America was named in honor of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Also the whole continent of Africa would become part of Yemen, because this one too was named after a Yemeni sailor called Afriqish.

Below more unaccepted examples.

·        Baghdad would be a Kurdish city because its name came from two Kurdish words (Bagh+Dad=the Garden of Peace)

·        Istanbul would be a Byzantine city of Contentions Pole.

·        Damascus would become a part from Greece.

·        Arbil(Hawler) would become again the Assyrian capital city of Four Gods.

 There are hundred of other examples, but the richness of oil wells make defining the identity of Karkuk most complicated one. Therefore, the experiments of other democratic nations can be good examples to solve problem of Karkuk or the history of the continuous blood shed in Iraq should give us some tough lessons.

Realistically if we compare the Kurds of Karkuk who before were the majority with other ethnic groups like Assyrians, Turkmen, and Arabs, we will see their situation has been always worst one. These people have lost everything under the long suppuration of pan Arab regimes of the past. That doesn’t mean the other ethnic groups were hundred percent satisfied. But if they take the 182000 Anfalees in their considerations, they should come up with a reasonable answer.

Other ways people like me can play a mathematical game with the six words of Karkuk and extract a new logical solution.


There are three (Ks) in KARKUK, so Kurds should get 3 points.

A=ARAB, 1 point.

R=ASSYRIAN, 1 point.

U=TURKMEN, 1 point.

So if those four remaining groups in this unfortunate city don’t decide to live together in a democratic way an outsider terrorist involves in and rename my KARKUK as K.arK.uK= Ku Klux Klan!