On the front page of Sunday's New York Times, Stephen Farrell's "As Iraqis Vie for Kirkuk's Oil, Refugee Kurds Becomes Pawns" begins and continues inside the paper. It's of interest for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons is because those who seem to think they have the authority or right to divide Iraq into three sections (as is regularly pushed) might want to look at the mess today and grasp (if nothing else) that the only way outsiders can claim "I didn't cause it!" is to stand back and let a region's own inhabitants decide.
How far do you stand back? That may be the question for some and probably some regular readers of the paper will be confused: Wasn't the Kurdish region the land of peace, hope and just a regular love-in?
It helps to hire big names to represent you in p.r. ventures and the Kurdish region has certainly thrown the money around as well as Kuwait did prior to the first Gulf War.
Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, lies so well that maybe he truly is suited the office?
We have not, he insists repeatedly, evicted any Kurds and forced them to move to Kirkuk.
It's a lie, it's a great big lie. And it may be a shock for many because, again, the press has more than elisted in portraying the monied Kurd region as the 'model.' The reality is that the Kurdish region has been repeatedly 'cleansed' throughout the illegal war by Kurds. The reality is that -- in a throwback to Saddam -- the region has turned on its own people, forcing them out of the region and into Kirkuk in anticipation of an election (that more than likely will not be held this year -- the central puppet government in Baghdad announced this fall that it wouldn't) that will determine whether oil rich Kirkuck goes to the Kurdish north or stays under the control of the central government.
Statements have been made throughout the illegal war (and the foreign press has covered them) that the ultimate goal is to make Kirkuk part of the Kurdish region and for the region to then break off into their own national government. As Farrell notes, this alarms Turkey (which has long has had Kurds demanding their own breakaway republic). It also alarms the central government because that's a lot of oil in a country that has precious few commodities to trade.
So Farrell tells you of the Kurds forced out of the region and into Kirkuk to live in "the squalor of the Kirkuk soccer stadium." He quotes Kurds who explain how they were forced out, how they were theatened, how their homes were seized. All in an effort to attempt to make Kurds the predominant segment of the population in Kirkuk in anticipation of the upcoming election.
How does this apply to others imposing their will from outside? Saddam Hussein settled non-Kurds in the area. He imposed that from outside.
So we're left with Whose Homeland Is It Anyway? and a great deal of violence that's largely unreported. There are many, many other examples of this throughout history, but for those who don't get that their is no 'right' to impose their will on others, maybe they'll grasp that today's problem exists because someone from outside decided to impose their will?
That's why if Iraq's to be partioned, it needs to come from the Iraqis. It can't be imposed. It's not the business of outsiders. It's really easy to look at the violence (which continues) in Iraq today and say, "We'll just split the country up into three parts!" That's creating longterm problems. Iraqis splitting their own country may create longterm problems as well (if they decide to go that route) but that would be their decision.
Were the US to split up a foreign country, it would only fuel further anti-US sentiment. (And, yes, as bad as the US image is under the Bully Boy, it could still get a lot worse.)
Some just learning of the violence may be alarmed and suggest sending in more US forces. Since Talabani is answerable to the US government (as is the entire 'leadership' in Iraq), there's no need to do that. The White House, if they gave a damn, has more than enough power to say, "Stop forcing people out of their homes!" At the very least, they could insist that Talabani construct real shelters for the many displaced by the Kurdish region.
He hasn't had to do that because the Kurdish region has received so little serious attention. Again, it helps to hire 'names' to do your public relations work. All the better when some of them aren't considered p.r. hacks but made a name for themselves in other fields.
But the reality is that the 'model' area was never a 'model' area unless you wanted to ignore that persecutions and 'cleansings' taking place there. It's why a popular narrative last spring was so laughable -- that a younger woman fell in love with a Kurd and decided to leave her family and marry the man. It was Romeo & Juliet! Of course, it wasn't. Romeo dies in Shakespeare's play. And of course the region has a long history of forced marriages to convert the religious minorities. (Which is what the woman was until her own people stoned her.) It was a cute little fairytale that vouched for a man that no one ever interviewed. One that ignored the strong likelihood that the woman did not fall 'in love' but was kidnapped -- as so many other women from her sect have been -- in a forced conversion.
Women in the 'model' region. Women suffer from 'honor' killings and from suicide attempts (though, since they don't speak of it in most cases and physicians make the conclusions that it was a suicide attempt, skepticism should be at play as to whether or not some of those suicides and attempted suicides weren't really 'honor' killings). Newsweek laughably attempted to provide cover to the large numbers by passing it off as the latest 'fad' -- apparently, young women in the Kurdish region weren't really anybody unless they'd at least tried suicide. Body piercings and tatoos apparently not have reached the region.
It's never been a 'model' region and it's never been a peaceful region; however, if you have the money to throw around you can buy your own p.r. and that certainly took place.
New content (finally) up at The Third Estate Sunday Review:
Truest statement of the week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: It's not an issue to be 'dropped'
TV: 60 Wasted Minutes
Who's killing the peace movement?
Dope of the week (US division)
Dope of the week (British division)
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