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Some US propaganda, perhaps worth responding to: --------------------------------------------------- -----Original Message----- From: US-IRAQ Policy from the Department of State [mailto:US-IRAQPOLICY@LISTS.STATE.GOV]On Behalf Of USINFO Iraq Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2000 9:11 PM To: US-IRAQPOLICY@LISTS.STATE.GOV Subject: Iraq Coordinator Ricciardone's Perspectives on Kurds Remarks by State's Ricciardone on Kurds in the Global Arena (At American University Center for Global Peace, April 17) Francis J. Ricciardone, the Department of State's Special Coordinator for Transition in Iraq, provided his perspectives on "Kurds in the Global Arena" at American University's Center for Global Peace on April 17. Ricciardone began his remarks with the following "take-home" points: -- First: there simply is no overarching U.S. Government policy toward "The Kurds," as such. Rather, we interact with Kurds precisely as we do with any other citizens of their various countries. -- As "globalization" inevitably turns formerly local issues into international ones, non-state players are rising in influence in the rapidly evolving business of international relations. -- Third, Iraqi Kurds are among the leaders of those free Iraqis who are breaking Baghdad's dictatorial monopoly on communications -- both among Iraqis and between them and the world. In so doing they are laying the groundwork for a hopeful, modern definition of what it can mean to be an Iraqi, and what Iraq can be as a country. Ricciardone said the United States believes the human rights of Kurds are to be protected as fully as those of their other countrymen and that a strong democracy affords the best protection for the rights of all citizens in any country. U.S. policy toward Iraq is clear, he said: "We support the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq as necessary for regional peace and stability. ... We recognize that change in Iraq will come from within, and that who will lead the new Iraq, and how it will be organized, are questions that the Iraqi people will and must decide all together when they are free to do so. "We look forward to the return of Iraq to the community of nations under a new government that will respect the rights of all Iraqis and of Iraq's neighbors under international law," Ricciardone said. "Iraqi Kurds are among the most committed advocates of such a new Iraq," he added. Free Iraqi Kurds are leading their countrymen of all ethnic origins in communicating as never before and are making the most of such world access to expose the truth not only about their oppressors, but more importantly, about themselves, Ricciardone said. "In the process, they are creating a dynamic definition of who they are as Kurds and as Iraqis, for the world, for their country, and for themselves." Following is the text of Ricciardone's remarks: (begin text) An American Diplomat's Perspectives On Kurds in the Global Arena Remarks by Francis J. Ricciardone American University - Center for Global Peace April 17, 2000 Thank you, Ambassador Murphy, for your generous introduction. I commend American University's Center for Global Peace and Professors Carole O'Leary and Abdul Aziz Said for organizing this symposium. Thank you for inviting me. Secretary Albright has made clear that we in the Department of State should seize just such opportunities to converse with American and foreign publics on the issues that we manage on behalf of our citizens. I was invited as a Foreign Service Officer with experience in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. My job now, however, is to coordinate the United States' support for Iraqis working to promote a transition to democracy under a new government, so I will focus on our dealings with Iraqi Kurds. Obviously, my participation today does not imply that the Department of State or I endorse what others here might say. Overview: The United States and "The Kurds": Let me now offer you my "take-home" points: -- First: there simply is no overarching U.S. Government policy toward "The Kurds," as such. Rather, we interact with Kurds precisely as we do with any other citizens of their various countries. To illustrate, I will recap the larger Iraq policy context underlying our relations with the Iraqi Kurds and other free Iraqis. Our approach both suits and reflects the profound changes underway in the conduct of international relations. This leads to my second point: -- As "globalization" inevitably turns formerly local issues into international ones, non-state players are rising in influence in the rapidly evolving business of international relations. -- Third, Iraqi Kurds are among the leaders of those free Iraqis who are breaking Baghdad's dictatorial monopoly on communications -- both among Iraqis and between them and the world. In so doing they are laying the groundwork for a hopeful, modern definition of what it can mean to be an Iraqi, and what Iraq can be as a country. Dealing with Kurds vs. "The Kurds": You might reasonably have expected to hear a statement of United States policy toward "the Kurds." I am sorry to disappoint: I know of no statement of an official United States "policy" toward "the Kurds" as such. There is simply no need. This symposium will consider questions of Kurdish identity -- communal, political, or otherwise. Those are complex, sensitive, and fascinating issues for Kurdish people, their neighbors, and their governments, and for scholars anywhere to debate. But those issues certainly are beyond the United States' ability, authority, or responsibility to resolve for others. Hence, as a practical matter, we simply set aside such questions as immaterial to our ability to communicate productively and respectfully with Kurds wherever we have common interests to address. That is, like other governments foreign to them, we deal with Kurds as citizens of their countries. Of course, we believe the human rights of Kurds are to be protected as fully as those of their other countrymen. We also believe that a strong democracy affords the best protection for the rights of all citizens in any country. I will not compare the status of Kurds in different countries. But I will briefly sketch our dealings with several sets of Kurds to show that the absence of a specific "Policy on The Kurds" does not impede useful, direct U.S. Government communications with individual Kurds and with Kurdish organizations who play important local or national roles in their countries. Of the states blessed with large indigenous Kurdish populations, clearly Turkey, as a NATO ally, has the best and closest relations with the United States. This means that thousands of American businesspeople, scholars, journalists, politicians, tourists, diplomats and soldiers do various forms of business with Kurdish-origin Turks every day. Usually, and quite naturally, such Americans are unaware of and indifferent to the ancestry of their Turkish interlocutors. The Turkish Parliament counts many Kurdish deputies, and many Turkish municipalities routinely elect Kurdish mayors. Our diplomats meet such prominent Turkish citizens as routinely as we see Turkish politicians and officials of Balkan, Caucasian, Central Asian, or other backgrounds. We promote American exports and investment all over Turkey, including in the Southeast, where we see particular business growth opportunities. By contrast, since the US still has no direct diplomatic relations with Iran and no official American presence there, our direct official contacts with Iranian citizens, of any description, in their own country are nil. Iraq is, of course, a peculiar case. Few, if any, democracies have what could be called "normal," much less "good" relations with Baghdad, and of course we have no relations at all with that regime. But we do have direct and meaningful contacts with a wide range of Iraqis, either outside Iraq, or in northern Iraq -- so far the only part of Iraq where its citizens can freely communicate with each other and with the outside world. It is hard for us to imagine a future free Iraqi national parliament or government in which Kurds, and for that matter their Turcoman and Assyrian neighbors also, do not play leading roles alongside their Arab countrymen. Of course, until all Iraqis live under a national government that is accountable to them, we and many other governments will continue to deal respectfully and openly with free Iraqi Kurdish, Turcoman, Assyrian, and Arab personalities and groups as the holders of local authority, personal prestige, and wide influence. We see them in an anomalous and temporary situation, after which they will have even more impact on the strategic directions of their country and its national government. We believe that even now, such free Iraqis, far more than the Baghdad regime, best display their country's civilization and its potential. Iraqi Kurds within US Iraq Policy: We deal with Iraqi Kurds, as with all free Iraqis, within the context of our policy toward Iraq. That policy is clear: We support the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq as necessary for regional peace and stability. We would oppose the creation of separate states or statelets either for the Kurds or for any Iraqi ethnic or sectarian community. We recognize that change in Iraq will come from within, and that who will lead the new Iraq, and how it will be organized, are questions that the Iraqi people will and must decide all together when they are free to do so. We look forward to the return of Iraq to the community of nations under a new government that will respect the rights of all Iraqis and of Iraq's neighbors under international law. We deal with Kurdish parties and individuals as important constituents and leaders of an Iraqi national movement that seeks to restore such an Iraq to all its people, and to its rightful place in the world. Iraqi Kurds are among the most committed advocates of such a new Iraq. I look forward again today to hearing some of them discuss how they want a free Iraq to work, and how to bring it about. Let me here rebut a fallacy suggested by some opponents of the Iraqi Kurds' long struggle against tyranny. We see no comparison at all, as some have suggested, between terrorism, as practiced by the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, versus the Iraqi Kurds' resistance to an outlaw regime condemned and sanctioned by the United Nations as an oppressor. There is no moral ambiguity here. We condemn PKK terrorism, period. Shaping a New Iraq Though Iraqis often ask our outlook, the United States Government does not and really can not prescribe how the next Baghdad government should reform the state to guarantee the rights of all its citizens and to restore and strengthen national unity. Naturally, we favor democracy, protected by the rule of law, as the best way to do this. Beyond this, it is not for us to flash "green" or "red lights" to the various plans or philosophies now discussed by free Iraqis. In general, we are most comfortable with democratic political principles that promise to strengthen national unity, stability, and prosperity, and to guarantee the full freedoms and other human rights of all Iraqis. Likewise, we are most uncomfortable with any policies that would tend to divide or to oppress Iraqis, and thus further to weaken Iraq, as the current regime continues to do. We support the universal aspiration of Iraqis to put the days of "divide-and-rule" dictatorship into the past. The Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella grouping representing Iraqi democratic opposition parties of all ethnic, sectarian, and ideological communities including the major Kurdish parties, has described such a free Iraq as the goal of all Iraqis. As I understand the INC, they advocate a democratic Iraq with one national government, one army, one diplomatic service, one passport, one currency, and freedom of movement and commerce for all Iraqis from Zakho to Fao. At the same time, INC thinkers, including the Kurds among them, advocate some constitutional decentralization of fiscal and political authority. I find it healthy that the INC has begun this important national debate even now, the better to develop a ready-made national consensus for the day dictatorship ends in Iraq. The Iraqis, like any other free people, will have to decide for themselves the right balance between central and decentralized authority, as also between public and private sector responsibilities, and other difficult issues such as the role of religion in the state. And they will have to do this together. Whatever the terms of their debate, I am confident that the Iraqis will succeed in striking the right balance for them. Iraqi Kurds as Influential Non-state Actors: Let me return now to the growing influence of Iraqi Kurds as non-state players on the global stage. It is remarkable that Iraqi Kurds, formerly among the most culturally and geographically isolated people on the planet, have embraced overt, broad engagement with the outside world with both spirit and skill. Their budding success in the world arena has been hard won, through an epic and painful learning process. One eulogist recently has credited this engagement with the world as an enduring legacy of Mulla Mustafa Barzani. Born a simple villager into a remote province of the Ottoman Empire, Mulla Mustafa died far from his birthplace in a superpower capital. As a guerrilla leader, he had found that the force of local arms, however heroically borne, could not prevail against a modern army backed by the full resources of a then-wealthy state, no matter how poorly led. Hence, he sought and exploited secret alliances with powerful foreign states. Any advantages gained turned out to be only tactical and temporary, before alignments among states shifted without warning. From the tragic consequences, the Kurds of Iraq wisely have drawn the right lesson: not to retreat or disengage from the world stage, but rather to engage all the more fully and forthrightly, the better to ensure clarity of expectations and commitments. How have the Iraqi Kurds -- the KDP, PUK, the Islamists, the Failis, the tribal leaders -- come to communicate with such impact with so many states of the world? And this, in the face of their continuing disenfranchisement and the internal embargo imposed by the regime in Baghdad? As non-state practitioners in international relations, in many respects the various Kurdish organizations now enjoy greater influence, access, credibility, and meaningful international relationships than does the regime which purports to speak for them and for all Iraqis from Iraq's seat at the United Nations. The same is slowly becoming true also for the Iraqi Kurds' as yet less well-known neighbors, the Turcoman and Assyrian parties of the Iraqi national opposition. Likewise, traditionally inward-looking Iraqi Arabs, such as tribal leaders and many Islamists, now are forging new communications channels to foreign governments and NGOs sympathetic to their human rights. Governments, international organizations, businesspeople, scholars, and NGOs care what such free Iraqis have to say, as the diverse participation here attests. And deservedly so. Today's Symposium also aptly demonstrates that Iraqi Kurds have grasped the value of international engagement and are developing the skills both to bring home the benefits of globalization, and to manage its risks. That private Iraqi Kurdish wealth has endowed a scholarly chair in the study of conflict resolution here at American University shows a sophisticated awareness that the defeat of oppression requires far more than the force of arms. Such initiatives are indispensable to rebuild a vital Iraqi national consciousness that will sustain democratic reform by the next leaders of Iraq. United Nations Security Council Resolutions testify to the Iraqi Kurds' growing international influence. The Kurds' impact also can be seen in their open welcome in the ministries of democratic governments. Their connectedness to the larger world likewise is evident in the presence of the many international NGOs, scholars, and journalists whom they welcome to free Iraq -- without imposing official "minders." Several Iraqi Kurdish groups have permanently posted representatives abroad, who are trusted by foreign hosts for their outstanding personal abilities. Several of them are among us today. Such experienced and effective international representatives should prove invaluable assets to any future national Government of Iraq. Professor O'Leary and Professor Said suggested to me that the Iraqi Kurds' success in dealing with powerful states lies in their dawning understanding that the key to international influence -- whether for the state or non-state players -- is high skill in all aspects of the use of truthful information. I concur. This is not at all the same thing as either "propaganda" or even "public relations" work. Nor is this merely "intelligence" work. Rather, I refer to the timely and broad presentation of truth to influence international public opinion, and through it, the policies of democratic governments. For maximum punch, no medium compares to the visual. The Iraqi Kurds' first big step on the road to international influence came as the result of televised tragedy. Images of half a million freezing and frightened Iraqi refugees moved the conscience of the world in March of 1991. Yet, only days before, for the lack of real-time video images, that same world stood silent at Baghdad's mass slaughter of innocent Iraqi Arab civilians in the south. Only three years before, the world was able to ignore the rumored but then-untelevised poison gassing of Halabja. Still earlier, the lack of televised evidence also helped shelter Saddam Hussein's criminal use of poison gas against Iranians, until the United States independently developed the evidence to lead world condemnation of this in March 1984. The sustained international attention to Northern Iraq long after the catastrophes of 1988 and 1991, however, does not result from the one-time, one-way transmission of images of innocents' suffering, but from two-way engagement. Iraqi Kurdish leaders have opened up their part of the country far more than Baghdad has dared to reveal itself to the eyes of the world. The Iraqi Kurds do not merely purvey information to the world, but also welcome the world into Iraq. Iraqi students and teachers in Dohuk, Erbil, and Suleymania freely exchange views and information with each other and with the world via the Internet. While Baghdad bans UN-mandated human rights rapporteurs and monitors, the Kurds -- and Assyrians and Turcomans -- welcome all official and independent foreign visitors. While a son of the dictator controls Baghdad's mass media and bans foreign publications and broadcasts, in the north local and international broadcast channels and publications are proliferating in several languages. In sum, while Baghdad vainly struggles to preserve an obsolete dictatorial monopoly on information, free Iraqi Kurds are leading their countrymen of all ethnic origins in communicating as never before. These free Iraqis are making the most of such world access to expose the truth not only about their oppressors, but more importantly, about themselves. In the process, they are creating a dynamic definition of who they are as Kurds and as Iraqis, for the world, for their country, and for themselves. To me as an American diplomat, this process is stimulating to observe and a privilege to support. Thank you again for the privilege of joining your conversation today. (end text) (Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. 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