Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kurds are more pro-American than Canadians

Great article.  This article is too long to post, so read the whole thing here.  Also read The Case for Kurdistan. The British made a huge mistake by not giving the Kurds the country they have always deserved. It is ironic that so many Arabs have fled to Kurdistan.  I heard that Mish'an Jabouri's son lives in Sulaimaniya.  I wonder what percentage of the Kurds believe that the US invasion was right. Do people ask themselves why so many Iraqis still believe the US invasion was right?  Thanks Anand for sending me the link.

No Friends But the Mountains


Kurdistan is the Other Iraq, the Iraq a surprising number of people in the West have not heard of and know almost nothing about. The media mostly ignore Kurdistan, for the same reason they ignore Kansas and Iowa: It is a sleepy and stable place where hardly anything of note happens.

Ethnic Kurds make up around 20 percent of Iraq's population. They, along with Persians, are indigenous to the upper Middle East, having lived there long before Arabs invaded from the south and Turks from the east. A few live in Baghdad and along the Iranian border east of the capital, and a larger number live in the provinces of Nineveh and Kirkuk. The majority, though, live in the northern mountains, high above the dusty plains of Mesopotamia, in the officially recognized and constitutionally sanctioned Kurdish Autonomous Region. There, the war is already over. In fact, the war was hardly fought there at all. The only Kurdish insurgency in Iraq was against Saddam Hussein, and the only Kurdish terrorists in Iraq were those of Ansar al-Islam--which has since changed its name to al-Qaida--who were driven from the border town of Biyara into Iran in 2003.

The Kurds have their own capital and parliament in the city of Erbil. They have their own army, the Peshmerga, which in Kurdish means "Those Who Face Death." They have their own police, their own border patrols and checkpoints, and their own immigration and passport control. They have two international airports, with regular flights to and from Europe. They have their own flag, their own diplomats, and their own Department of Foreign Relations. The only things they don't have are a currency of their own and a seat in the United Nations. In all but name, then, Iraqi Kurdistan is an independent nation.

Erbil, the largest city in Kurdistan, has suffered three terrorist attacks since coalition forces terminated the Baath regime in 2003. The second-largest city, Suleimaniah, was struck only once. The third-largest city, Dohuk, has never been hit at all. More people have been wounded or killed by terrorists in Spain than in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2003. No one has been kidnapped.

Arab nationalism, Islamic radicalism, religious sectarianism, and anti-Americanism are alien ideologies in Kurdistan, rejected root and branch by the Kurds. They have, in fact, forged one of the most aggressively anti-terrorist communities in the world--no small feat, given what is happening just a few miles to the south in Iraq . This conservative Muslim society secures its own cities and territories better than the United States military shores up the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Over the past few years, I have traveled and worked in Kurdistan frequently, often staying there for long periods of time, and have always moved about freely, without need of a gun, body armor, or bodyguards. Americans can go there on holiday, if they so desire, and feel just as relaxed as they would in Canada. Even more so, perhaps: The Kurds are friendlier, and more pro-American, than Canadians. Thomas Friedman wrote a few years ago that "after two years of traveling almost exclusively in Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. I visited here for just three days, and got two years of anti-American bruises massaged out of me." I felt much the same in Iraqi Kurdistan. continued

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