Saturday, August 05, 2006


Environment & Ecology

By: Prof. M. R. Izady

Over the past 100,000 years, Kurdistan has seen several cycles of dry and wet spells, resulting in the advance and retreat of lush vegetation in the region and drastic changes in the nature and abundance of local flora and fauna.

At the height of the most recent Ice Age, large tracts of land in the higher elevations were barren due to the persistent cold and much more extensive glaciation on the higher points. Permanent glaciation existed as low as 5,000 feet, and glacial ice flowed down to elevations no higher than 3,500 feet (Wright 1960:89-90). The lower regions received less precipitation, because of a shift in the climatic zones and a southward shift in the jet stream.

At the time of the domestication of crops and animals in Kurdistan, around 12,000 years ago, a good deal of glacial ice was still present, and there existed a precipitation regime not dissimilar to that of today, although its seasonal pattern was quite different. The most prominent feature of the ecosystem at this time was its pervasive and rich grassland, with a wealth of seed grasses and plantago weed, as well as bulbed and other kinds of flowers (Wright 1968, 334-339). Large herds of wild sheep, goats, boars, carnivorous mammals, and migratory birds were present to tap this wealth of food. The area was ideal for the invention of two new and revolutionary technologies: agriculture and livestock domestication. The territory of Kurdistan, along with the adjacent lowlands of Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine, took the historical title of "Fertile Crescent" for this reason.

The last episode in climatic and ecological change began around 8000 years ago, with the final retreat of the glaciers and the return in full force of warm, rain-bearing clouds stimulated by a northward shift of the jet stream. This Asian monsoon regime advanced well onto the Iranian plateau to the east of Kurdistan around 6000 years ago, creating vast inland lakes. This greatly accelerated the retreat of the ice and the proliferation of vegetation up the slopes of Kurdistan by adding adequate summer rainfall to the already generous winter and spring precipitation on these mountains.

The cold tundra and sparse grasslands gave way to thick forests of cedar, pine, juniper, oriental cyprus, ash, poplar, sycamore, and most importantly, chestnut and oak. Large stands of fruit and nut trees also appeared in the more protected valleys. New animals, such as brown and black bear, proliferated with the new forests. The higher elevations now became the grasslands.

The Asian monsoons began a slow retreat back south about 4000 years ago, dramatically cutting the summer rains. While the vegetation in the higher elevations in Kurdistan could tolerate this reduction of rainfall because of lower annual temperatures (and thus evaporation rates), the lower grounds and valleys were left in a fragile state. The neighboring Iranian plateau was devastated. The long and slow trend toward desiccation continues to the present day.

The extant literature from the cuneiform archives of Mesopotamian civilizations, beginning with the 4000-year-old epic of Gilgamesh, all celebrate the Zagros as the land of the "Cedar Forest," which stretched "for ten thousand leagues in every direction" (see Popular Culture and Individual Character). "Together they went down into the forest and they came to the green mountain. There they stood still, they were struck dumb; they stood still and gazed at the forest, at the mountain of cedars, the dwelling place of the gods. The hugeness of the cedar rose in front of the mountain, its shade was beautiful, full of comfort; mountain and glade were green with brushwood" (Sandars, trans. and ed., The Epic of Gilgamesh, "The Forest Journey," 1972).

To the ancients these thick, dark mountain woods must have seemed an inexhaustible source of timber for construction and charcoal for brick furnaces and domestic use. But exhausted they became. In fact, by the beginning of the first millennium BC, the cedar forests of the Zagros (konâr in Kurdish) were so exhausted that later versions of the Epic, despite clear geographical discrepancy, ascribe the "Cedar Forest" to Lebanon, where the prized timbers could still be logged in abundance at the time. In fact, some modern scholars, noting the geographical discrepancy but perplexed by the long absence of any large cedar stands in the Zagros, have come to interpret the ancient words of the epic as "Pine Forest" rather than as "Cedar Forest." As the Sumerologist S.N. Kramer asserts, "The Cedar Land referred to would not be identical with the Lebanon to the west but with a land to the east… This is borne out by the fact that the sun-god, Utu, is described in the Sumerian literature as the god who ‘rises from the land of aromatics and cedar." (Kramer 1963:281)

By the time of the advent of the Achaemenians (550 BC), who adhered to the time-honored tradition of using cedar beams for roofing, Kurdistan no longer provided the wood. For his palaces at Susa and Persepolis, the Achaemenian king Darius I had to import cedar from far-off Lebanon. It did not, at any rate, take long for the Lebanese cedars to meet the fate of the Kurdish edars. Many Kurdish forests are relics of a more humid past and are unable to renew themselves once they have been clear-cut in large tracts. Once the forests are clear-cut, the microclimate and the ecosystem they maintain literally evaporate. As such, most of these woods are not a renewable resource in the strict sense of the word, and great care must be given to the exploitation and management of these old forests. First, there went the cedars, followed by the pine. An approximate date for the destruction of the pine forests can be set at about the 3rd or 4th century BC, by noting that pines are depicted as the tree of choice, and pine cones as a favorite motif, in the palace bas reliefs during the Assyrian, Median, and Achaemenian periods, ending in 330 BC—but not later.

This deterioration in plant cover has naturally had a strong and adverse effect on the general climate and the ability of the ecosystem to mend the damage. The damage done in the 19th- and 20th century has dwarfed the total effects of all previous abuses since antiquity. A quick comparison of the current environment with the accounts of European travelers in the past century horrifies the reader with the degree of negative change in the plant and animal wealth of the region. The fertile topsoil, devoid of its protective plant cover, washes away catastrophically under the heavy downpours of spring, and winter snow avalanches alternate with spring mud avalanches to block roads and damage settlements below. The valuable topsoil dumped into the network of rivers carries away not only the future natural productivity of the land but also clogs at alarming rates the dams built to tap the region's vast hydraulic potentials.

Kurdistan is not, of course, alone on this destructive path, as the ecosystems of the neighboring regions, in fact the world over, similarly bear the brunt of human abuse. Very little has been spent on the preservation or revival of plant cover. The perennial existence of a state of siege or outright war in the region has not helped either. The movement of heavy military equipment, bombardments, and intentional fires in the course of military operations have all contributed to the deterioration of the fragile environment.

Bibliography: Herbert Wright, "Climate and Prehistoric Man in the Eastern Mediterranean," in R. Braidwood and B. Howe, eds., Prehistoric Investigation in Iraqi Kurdistan (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1960); Herbert Wright, "Pleistocene Glaciation in Kurdistan," Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart XII (Wiesbaden, 1961); K. Wasylikowa, "Late Quaternary Plant Macro-Fossils from Lake Zeribar, Western Iran," Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 2 (1967); Herbert Wright, "Late Quaternary Climates and Early Man in the Mountains of Kurdistan," Report of the VI International Congress on Quaternary Epoch, Warsaw, 1961 (Lödz, 1964); H. Wright, "Modern Pollen Rain in Western Iran and its Relation to Plant Geography and Quaternary Vegetational History," Journal of Ecology 55 (1969); Charles Reed and R. Braidwood, "Toward the Reconstruction of the Environmental Sequence of Northeastern Iraq," in Braidwood and Howe, eds., Prehistoric Investigations in Iraqi Kurdistan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); C. Brooks, Climate Through the Ages (London: Ernest Benn, 1949); Arlette Leroi-Gourhan and Ralph Solecki, "Palaeoclimatology and Archaeology in the Near East," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences XCV (1961); Clark Howell, "Pleistocene Glacial Ecology and the Evolution of Classic Neanderthal Man," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology VIII-4 (1952); Werner Nützel, "The Climatic Changes of Mesopotamia and Bordering Areas: 14,000 to 2,000 BC," Sumer xxx:1-2 (Baghdad, 1976); X. de Planhol, "Limites antique et actuelle des cultures arbustives mèditerranèennes en Asie Mineure," Bulletin de l’Association de Gèographes français 239-40 (1954); Climatic Atlas of Iran (Teheran: Teheran University Press, 1970); Ali Tanoglu, Sirri Erinç, and Erol Tümertekin, Türkiye Atlasi (Istanbul: Milli Egilim Basimevi, 1961); The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated and edited by N.K. Sandars (Baltimore: Penguin, 1972); H. Wright, "Natural Environment of Early Food Production North of Mesopotamia," Science 161:334-339 (1968); W. van Zeist, "Late Quaternary Vegetation History of Western Iran," Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 2 (1967); H. Bobek, "Die gegenwärtige und eiszeitliche Vergletscherung im Zentralkurdischen Hochgebirge (Osttaurus, Ostanatolien)," Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde 27 (1940); Jacques de Morgan, Relation sommaire d’un voyage en perse et dans le kurdistan (Paris, 1895); Kramer, S.N., The Sumerians (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963).

Kurdish Worldwide Resources Copyright © 1997-99 , All rights reserved for Prof. M. R. Izady


Boundaries & Political Geography

By: Prof. Mehrdad R. Izady

The vast Kurdish homeland consists of about 200,000 square miles of territory. Its area is roughly equal to that of France, or of the states of California and New York combined.

Kurdistan straddles the mountainous northern boundaries of the Middle East, separating the region from the former Soviet Union. It resembles an inverted letter V, with the joint pointing in the direction of the Caucasus and the arms toward the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

In the absence of an independent state, Kurdistan is defined as the areas in which Kurds constitute an ethnic majority today. Kurdish ethnic domains border strategically on the territories of the three other major ethnic groups of the Middle East: the Arabs to the south, the Persians to the east, and the Turks to the west. In addition to these primary ethnic neighbors, there are many smaller ethnic groups whose territories border those of the Kurds, such as the Georgians (including the Lâz) and the Armenians to the north, the Azeris to the northeast, the Lurs to the southeast, and the Turcomans to the southwest.

Historically, the range of lands in which Kurdish populations have predominated has fluctuated. Kurdish ethnic territorial domains have contracted as much as they have expanded, depending on the demographic, historical, and economic circumstances of given regions of Kurdistan. A detailed analysis of migrations, deportations, and integration and assimilation is provided under Human Geography.

In the north of Kurdistan, Kurds now occupy almost half of what was traditionally the Armenian homeland, that is, the areas northeast of Lake Vân in modern Turkey. On the other hand, from the 9th to the 16th centuries, the western Kurdish lands of Pontus, Cappadocia, Commagene, and eastern Cilicia were gradually forfeited to the Byzantine Greeks, Syrian Aramaeans, and later the Turcomans and Turks. This last trend, however, has begun to reverse itself in the present century.

Vast areas of Kurdistan in the southern Zagros, stretching from the Kirmânshâh region to the Straits of Hormuz and beyond, have been gradually and permanently lost to the combination of the heavy northwestward emigration of Kurds and the ethnic metamorphosis of many Kurds into Lurs and others since the beginning of the 9th century AD. The assimilation process continues today and can, for example, be observed among the Laks, who, although they still speak a Kurdish dialect, have been more strongly associated with the neighboring Lurs than with other Kurds. The distinction between the Kurds and their ethnic neighbors remains most blurred in southeastern Kurdistan in the area where they neighbor the Lurs, that is, on the Hamadân-Kirmânshâh-Ilâm axis.

Since the 16th century, contiguous Kurdistan has been augmented by two large, detached exclaves of (mainly deported) Kurds. The central Anatolian exclave includes the area around the towns of Yunak, Haymâna, and Cihanbeyli/Jihânbeyli, south of the Turkish capital of Ankara (the site of ancient Phrygia Magna). It extends into the mountainous districts of north-central Anatolia (the site of ancient Pontus), where it is bounded by the towns of Tokat, Yozgat, Çorum, and Amasya in the Yisilirmâq river basin. The fast-expanding north-central Anatolian segment of the exclave now has more Kurds than the older segment in central Anatolia. It is doubtful that, except for some very small Dimili-speaking pockets, this colony harbors any of the ancient Pontian Kurds who lived here until the Byzantine deportations of the 9th century.

The north Khurâsân exclave in eastern Iran is centered on the towns of Quchân and Bujnurd and came into existence primarily as a result of deportations and resettlements conducted from the 16th to the 18th centuries in Persia.

Following World War I, Kurds found themselves and their homeland divided among five sovereign states, with the largest portions of Kurdish territory in Turkey (43%), followed by Iran (31%), Iraq (18%), Syria (6%), and the former Soviet Union (2%). Since 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fragments of Kurdish land are now also in the newly independent republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan. These states have at various stages subdivided Kurdistan into a myriad of administrative units and provinces. Only in western Iran has the Kurdish historical name, even though corrupted, been preserved, in the province of "Kordestan," with its capital at Sanandaj.

A rather peculiar and confusing by-product of the division of Kurdistan among contending states and geopolitical power blocs is its four time zones (five if Kurdish regions of Turkmenistan are also counted). The continental United States, 15 times larger than Kurdistan, also has four time zones, while China in its colossal entirety keeps but a single time zone. Geographically, Kurdistan fits perfectly into one time zone, 3 hours ahead of Greenwich, England. The standard -3-hour time zone is defined as the area between 35 and 50 degrees east of Greenwich. With its western and eastern borders at, respectively, 36 and 49 degrees east, Kurdistan would almost perfectly fall into this single time zone.

Kurdish Worldwide Resources Copyright © 1997-99 , All rights reserved for Prof. M. R. Izady

Drug and children

By Soraya Fallah
Drug and Drug abuse is almost one of the most important subject in our society from childhood till adolescence and old ages.
Drug addiction means that a person’s body has addicted to drug and it can’t function without it. The problem is many people special in teen ages like to have new experiences and they think they never be addicted to any thing and they have power to stop when they want!!! “Why does it happened” is another subject.
Drug addiction makes a person physically and emotionally addicted. When the person’s body comes to expect the presence of a drug, and doesn’t receive it the body will go through a physical withdrawal. Drug addiction can destroy person’s relationships and family life and can harm or even kill them.
During the previous decade, the number of children using drugs have been increased. Children are under new program in school to know more and more about drugs, even more than parents, but why statistic says 40% of 4-10 graders tried marijuana at least once. One of the problem about marijuana is those of parents who grew up during the first wave of drug experimentation, those parents don’t know new products and harmful and dangers new version of marijuana with THC. Peer defection, family problem, having no skills about how to resist peer pressure and say no to their offer, low self steam , no physical activity and thousand reason depend on person are reasons to attract a person to drug.
How can we help and teach children be drug free?
-Helping them feel good about themselves.
-Teaching them the facts about drugs and alcohol.
-Teach them to say “no” to drug offers.
-Make a full time, useful activity for them and spend some time with them.
-Give them responsibility.
-Show them pictures and movies about harmfulness of drugs.
-Help them learn how to solve their problems.
How can we help a child to stop drug and addiction?
There are no facts and no certain way about this matter, but there are some special and useful and experienced ways that can help:
-Have a heart -to -heart talk: helper should drug user friendly and posit icily. -Helper should not threatens. Nagging only encourages the drug user cling to his/her group or to whoever is providing them with drugs.
-Don’t confront he/r when he/r is high on drugs.
-For family intervention should ask them to have relationship with other families that have healthy and drug free kids.
-Professional help and rehabilitation are important.

My writing

My writing experiences?
By: Soraya Fallah
I have many experience, good and bad memories of my writing. I remember I had a good friend, whose name was Setareh. She was one of the best students in school and even though I was too, but not better than her. I was always admiring her. One day we had an essay about Stand strong against problems, and I was writing an essay with the beginning of an old poem and before starting in the class (as usual that we should read out loud our essay in front of all students in the class) I explained and illustrate a shape. I read it with strong ton. In less than a few minutes bell rang and I still continued to read, I was expecting to be cut by teacher or interrupted by classmates, but no body moved till the last sentences and after a few minutes silence they clapped. Setareh came to me and very deep said you are writing unbelievable and invited me to her house for day after that was holyday. I went there she told me she doesn’t want to stay in my class anymore and even in the school, because I can not be in a school where there is a better student especially in essay that catches focus of principal and making popularity between students. She told her problem to her family and since she was the only child in her house her family made decision to move to another school. I felt guilty and I

promised myself to keep contact with her forever, but later on they moved to another city and for many years I felt that it was my fault.
Stages and Kinds: I can divided my writing in 3 steps: The first one was writing internal and social essays and assignment for school and for the others and in my diary as a 2nd and 3rd person, second step was my writing during University that were totally political matters and research papers for school and for news paper and my job place. Third stage is what I am doing and experiencing as a third language’s learner to follow directions and not get behind.
In-school and out-school: I usually don’t write in the same ways for both like everyone else’s.
Audience: In personal writing I am writing to an audience who is me. And in impersonal I am writing to the others in schools assignment I usually write for classmates and the teacher.
Physical: Physical condition is important for me. Because of my bad hand writing I usually prefer to use of computers in school and make copy of them right away. I used to write in a park in nature close to river, but they make me cry.