Monday, October 16, 2017

This Morning in Kurdistan

This morning I was really tired when I woke up. The fatigue was probably due to giving three tests yesterday and being on feet the whole day. So I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and caught the noon bus into work. I was supposed to have a meeting this afternoon but it got cancelled.

The big news in Kurdistan today is that this morning Iraqi forces attacked Kirkuk. It is very unlikely that this conflict will have any effect on my day to day life in the near future. But, yesterday in preparation the Iranians closed the border with Kurdistan at the request of Baghdad. That could have a rather negative effect on food prices in the not too distant future. In the mean time I hope that there is a ceasefire in Kirkuk very soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Publication

My article, "Kurds in the USSR, 1917-1956" will be appearing in vol 5, no. 2 (October 2017) of Kurdish Studies. Below I have reproduced the abstract of the article.


Soviet policy towards its Kurds fluctuated and remained fragmented, ambivalent, and inconsistent throughout the existence of the USSR. On one hand the Soviet government provided for the material and cultural development of Kurds in Armenia and Azerbaijan during the 1920s and 1930s. On the other hand in 1937 it deported a number of Kurds from Azerbaijan and in 1944 an even larger number from Georgia to Kazakhstan and Central Asia as special settlers. The Soviet government freed Kurdish special settlers from the legal restrictions limiting their movement and other rights only in April 1956. Former Kurdish special settlers, however, could not return to the Caucasus. The Kurds remained a diaspora group in the USSR without any national territory and only limited cultural institutions. Only in the late 1980s did this situation change.  

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Recent Events In Kurdistan

The recent news in Kurdistan is that flights in and out of Erbil and Suli to destinations outside of Iraq now have to be routed through Baghdad. Getting out is fine since the government of Iraq has waived the visa requirement for foreigners in Kurdistan leaving through Baghdad. Getting back in, however, is now going to require an Iraqi visa if one wishes to fly rather than go overland from Turkey.

The other big news here is that Jalal Talabani, the most important founder and leader of the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) political party as well as the first Kurd to have been president of Iraq has died.  Suli was always the center of support for the PUK and Talabani within Kurdistan. There were a lot of students dressed in black with pictures of Talabani pinned to their shirts in mourning on campus yesterday.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Another day in Kurdistan

Today was a bit hectic because I had to finish grading and recording some quizzes, write a test, and finally give two tests. The result is that I missed breakfast and did not consume any solid food until lunch which consisted of rice, beans, kofte, and eggplant and tomato salad. This week I have a lot of non-academic stuff that needs to get done. But, I am hoping that next week I can make some more progress on writing. Things in Sulaimani haven't changed much since the referendum despite a lot of panic in the US media about the situation in Kurdistan.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Reader Survey

It looks like my blog has gotten a few readers in the last few weeks. I am not sure if it is actually reviving or not. But, it appears I may again be up to a half a dozen readers. So maybe it is time to do another reader survey. I haven't done one since I was in Ghana, a country I left well over a year ago. So if you ever read this blog leave a comment about what you would like me to write more about.

An extended answer to Rex Gildo on Ethnic Germans in the Red Army

This is a fuller answer to Rex Gildo regarding ethnic Germans from the Volga and other regions of the USSR in the Red Army at the start of the World War II than I gave in the comments. First, of course during the first months after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet citizens of German heritage fought bravely in the Red Army. They were particularly prominent in the defense of Brest on 22-29 June 1941.German soldiers in the Red Army included not only Volga Germans, but ethnic Germans from as far away as Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government began to remove them from the ranks in July and ordered all of them removed on 8 September 1941. The Stalin regime then conscripted them into the labor army and sent them to places like Bogoslavlag. In total about 30,000 ethnic Germans fought in the Red Army between 21 June and 8 September 1941 before being expelled from the ranks and sent to labor camps as members of the labor army. I go into considerably more detail about the labor army including the mobilization of German Red Army soldiers for forced labor here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Life in Post-Referendum Kurdistan

I have been busy with work. I have four classes to teach on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays along with office hours on those days. This last week I had meetings as well on Tuesday and Thursday. Which meant I worked ten to eleven hour days from 7:00 am to evening. On Wednesday, however, I just had a short meeting with an honors student. So I slept in late,went to the bank, and then to the bazaar where I got some books. I also finished revising the first set of proofs of a journal article that day. So I can get a lot done if I don't have to teach any classes. That is a huge argument in favor of course release. Life on the ground here in Kurdistan isn't any different for me now than it was before the referendum.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happenings in Kurdistan (Independence Referendum)

Yesterday was the independence referendum here. The day was rather uneventful in Sulaimani. Although I am worried that prices will go up if the Iranians and Turks close the borders and stop the export of goods to Kurdistan for any length of time. In particular I am wary about the cost of food increasing dramatically as a result of shortages created due to the borders being closed. But, so far there hasn't been any run on food stocks at the local stores yet.

The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II

I have now put up a pre-publication version of my article, "The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II" on my site. The article was published in The Russian Review, vol. 75, issue 2 (April 2016), pp. 284-303.