A dozen of us spent a remarkable time with the Kurds in Kurdistan. The Kurds are Muslim people, about 35-40 million persons, who absolutely love Christians, love America, love the Jewish people, and really love the State of Israel. They were actually waving Israeli flags with their country’s flags. They are known as “the 2nd Israel.” They believe strongly in human rights, religious liberty, in the concept of forgiveness and the value of all persons, including non-Muslims. And they have paid dearly for those beliefs, being attacked by other Muslims around them.
They are scattered within four nations: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. We visited those within Iraq.
Kurdistan is “a country within a country” in Iraq, that is, Northern Iraq. It is sort of a “non-country country.” It has some autonomy but not enough. It’s under the authority of Iraq. 93% of the Kurds just voted to have their own country. But no one will let them do it.
The Kurds are not Arabs. They possibly are descendants of the Medes (as in “Medes and Persians”). They are scattered across four countries: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. They want freedom, but they don’t have it. They have been killed; 182,000 of them “disappeared” (thanks to Saddam Hussein) having been buried alive in mass graves!
They’re called “the 2nd Israel” because they – like the Jews – have been oppressed for so long, and yearn to have their own land like the Jews now have. We had a truly remarkable time with the governmental leaders of the Iraqi Kurds in Kurdistan.
In Kurdistan, our U.S. delegation visited Balashiqua Mountain (ridge), overlooking the plains of Nineveh – (directly behind Rosemary and me) where Jonah preached and near where the Old Testament Prophet Nahum is buried. Nineveh is the modern city of Mosul, which had a population of 1.6 million before ISIS swept through, slaughtered so many, and reduced the entire city to rubble. All of those people are now displaced refugees.
See members of the courageous Kurdistan military – known as the Peshmerga- who recently lost 60 of their colleagues right near where they are standing when they freed Mosul from ISIS.
Every country I have gone to, I fall in love with that country and its people. Kurdistan is no exception. I was profoundly impressed with the Kurds. For those who do not know, Kurdistan is a type of country withing a country. Kurdistan is within Iraq. It has some autonomy but not much.
We were guests of the Kurdistani government who – like in other countries – provided us with exceptional drivers. But the Kurdish drivers were beyond amazing. These wonderful drivers and escorts kept us safe as they drove us hundreds of miles all over Kurdistan. With lights flashing, they often drove down the middle of the road, with all cars pulling off the roads, sometimes even passing each other at high rates of speed, as only highly skilled professional drivers can do. It was like days on NASCAR. But we were so grateful to be so well protected.