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[casi] Stafford Clarry: "Harvest Time: Occupier vs. Occupied"

This is my second response to the article posted by
Alexander Sternberg. I've started a new subject under
the name of the real (?) author, Stafford Clarry.

Clarry, an American, is Humanitarian Affairs Advisor
to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Nothing
wrong with that. I just like to get the authorship
straight. The article was published on the KRG
website on May 15, 2003 under the name of
Stafford Clarry.

That same day, Mr. Sternberg posted this article
to CASI, apparently via some re-routing mechanism.
Attached was his note: "As I have no access from
this account to casi, please fd from my home account.
Alexander Sternberg". There was no date or author's
name in the article. It started straight with
"Wheat and barley are the main crops..."

So I assumed the article had been written by
Alexander Sternberg - and that I was responding
to his thoughts. But evidently this was not so.
Still, no problem...

Dear Peter and List,

My apologies to everyone for that "strength of
feeling" Peter couldn't "really understand". I
am not sure I quite understood it myself - it was
just a feeling I had.

But I appreciate your objections, Peter. You
gave me a lot to think about. And I do respect
your attempt to be fair to the article. I myself
took "Harvest time: occupier vs. occupied" as a
slick piece of PR - nothing more. That was my
main objection to it. It had that PRish smell
and rhetoric. And, intentionally or not, it was
also incredibly disingenuous in presenting the
situation. Even I, with my limited knowledge,
could tell that. And that's the reason, I guess,
for my vehemence - call it the 'dossier syndrome'.

But don't get me wrong: that "right of return"
the article talks about is firmly enshrined in
international law - there is nothing PRish about
that. UN Resolution 194 ("The Right of Return of
Palestinians") spells this out quite clearly:

     11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to
     return to their homes and live at peace with
     their neighbours should be permitted to do
     so at the earliest practicable date, and that
     compensation should be paid for the property of
     those choosing not to return and for loss of
     or damage to property which, under principles
     of international law or in equity, should be
     made good by the Governments or authorities

And this applies in the case of the Arabization
policy also. Only the assumption that people will
just wither away at gunpoint won't work. Some will
of course. But as Peter himself points out "human
nature being what it is..."

The article fails to mention the gunpoint reality,
but alludes to it: "The occupied knows he has the
right-of-return and is prepared to exercise that
right, perhaps one way or another."

And this other way - as we all know - is the
Kalashnikov rifle. That is what's happening: more
bloodshed, more victims, more despair. Anyone
in favour of that?

It might also be worth remembering that Ancient
Iraq provided the foundation of most legal systems
around the world. So for European outsiders to
suggest the rule of the Kalashnikov rifle over
the rule of law is an insult to Iraq - on top
of all the other insults. Isn't enough, enough?

The proper way to handle this is through the
courts - where the claimants too have to prove
their claim. The US occupiers themselves have
stated that these claims must be settled in the
courts, as both Sternberg and Clarry surely know.

Besides, on September 24, 2002 the KDP and the
PKU drew up a draft constitution for a future
in which the rights of "other ethnic groups and
minorities" in Iraq would be upheld and enshrined.
Killing and evicting these minorities is not the
way to achieve this.

Back to Alexander Sternberg:

> The main point Alexander was making is...
> ... what Alexander Sternberg was saying about
> But it wasn't what Alexander was talking about.

I am teasing you, Peter, but only a little. We
just have to think of it as Stafford Clarry's
points... Equally valuable, of course, and also
firmly on the ground.

> no-one who is articulating a Kurdish point of view

Can there be a unified Kurdish view? British view?
American, German, French...view? I doubt it.
For example, many Kurds in Germany were against
this war... are against US imperialism. Not only
that, they are also for a unified Iraq, including
all ethnic groups. Iraq for the Iraqis, not for
colonizers, they say. If you read German, there
is a Kurdish website:

(The Kurds have been treated very badly in Germany
because they want to organize politically for
their oppressed brothers and sisters in Turkey.)

> Alexander's the closest we've got and I welcome
> what he has to say even if I disagree with it,
> as I usually do.

I see this a little differently. Of course, I also
welcome Alexander's sayings because they are so
stimulating. But to get an understanding of any
situation, you have to do your homework first -
research, read, think, assess... Then you can
talk to different people, insiders and outsiders,
but you will be able to judge the validity of
their claims better - and use your perspective.

It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree
with Alexander, as long as you realize that his
opinions must necessarily reflect those of
his employers. Nothing wrong with that. But you
should know that both the Talabani and Barzani
factions are essentially separatists. These two
factions are not interested in contributing to a
unified Iraq - as many ordinary Kurds are - but
only in power for themselves. They don't even
share with one another. Opportunism is part of
human nature, of course. But you have to take
this into account when forming your opinions.

These people are the equivalent of the Chalabi
rolex-brigade. By contrast, poor Kurds suffer
in poverty and neglect. On top of this, the two
factions keep fighting each other for supremacy -
killing ordinary Kurds in the process. They were
also playing off the US and the GOI one against
the other.

If you want Hassan "to lay out his understanding
of Iraq's recent history", as you put it, you
need to look at the background and the history
from different angles. Otherwise, you'll gain
nothing, in addition to the 'Alexander-on-the-ground
view' - which may be just what you want.

But I am afraid if we - all of us - are not prepared
to look at life from different angles, we are bound
to fall into the good guy/bad guy trap George W.
has been laying out for us. If often seems as if
we had already fallen.

I hope I haven't displayed too much "strength of
feeling" again. If so, please forgive me - put it
down to my being a foreigner (lacking the mores).


P.S. I am attaching an article about the Talabani/
Barzani factions, in case anyone is interested.


Kurds Consolidate Power in North Iraq

By Amberin Zaman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, December 20, 1998; Page A45

ZAKHU, Iraq--In a shiny new training complex outside
this drab town near the Turkish border, hundreds of
young men in green combat fatigues belt out a martial
song and jog to its beat. It goes: "Hey, hey, Kurdistan,
here come your heroes, here come your protectors."

The academy, set up last year to train a brand new army,
is one of several signs that the areas of northern Iraq
populated by ethnic Kurds are once again becoming a
potential staging point for armed opposition to the
Baghdad government of Saddam Hussein. The Kurdish
factions that rule this region, sandwiched between
Turkey and Iran, recently ended several years of feuding
with a deal brokered by the United States. They have
effectively reestablished an enclave outside Baghdad's
control, and say they have been guaranteed U.S.
protection against any Iraqi attack.

Their new army will absorb tens of thousands of Iraqi
Kurdish warriors known as peshmerga, who, for decades,
have battled Iraqi government forces. Along with
military strategy, weapons skills and computer science,
the 200-odd cadets enrolled at the academy are taught
Kurdish history and culture. Unlike military trainees
back in Baghdad, they learn nothing about the ideology
of Iraq's ruling Baath party.

"I have joined to serve my country, to defend
Kurdistan," said one of the cadets during a short break.
Gen. Shahab Ahmed Dohuki, a former Iraqi army officer
who is in charge of the military training academy,
hastily intervened: "Kurdistan is a part of Iraq, and
our activities here have nothing to do with seeking
independence. Look: We are wearing Iraqi uniforms," he
said, pointing to an eagle emblazoned on his belt

In fact, independence remains a long-cherished but
elusive goal for the more than 25 million Kurds who are
scattered across portions of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and
Syria. Their history has been marked by a succession of
unsuccessful rebellions against the governments they
live under -- and by bloody and protracted feuding among
themselves, egged on by those governments.

Today, however, a growing number of Iraqi Kurds say they
believe statehood is within reach.

"I think it's going to take America's support, but
independence could happen some day," said Saed Barzani,
an Iraqi Kurd with U.S. citizenship who recently left
his home in Vienna, Va., and gave up a job as a manager
at a TGIF restaurant to "come back and put everything I
have into my country."

In interviews throughout the Kurdish populated areas of
northern Iraq in the days immediately preceding the U.S.
and British airstrikes, optimism was palpable that
Washington could be counted on to support the Kurds'
aspirations. No one can say yet whether the allied
military campaign will directly or indirectly further
the Kurdish cause; the Pentagon has reported cruise
missile and bomb attacks on Iraqi military targets in
the north, but their effect is unknown.

Clinton administration officials say they oppose the
dismemberment of Iraq and the creation of a Kurdish
state. One of the chief reasons is that Washington does
not want to undermine Turkey, a key NATO ally, which is
fighting Kurdish rebels of its own. Turkey fears that
the emergence of an independent Kurdish state on its
borders would fuel separatist sentiment.

Yet, in a move that deeply angered Turkey, the United
States endorsed the establishment of a future Kurdish
federation within Iraq when it brought together the two
leading Iraqi Kurdish leaders -- Massoud Barzani of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- in Washington in
September to sign a peace agreement ending more than
four years of factional fighting.

In addition to calling for elections next summer, the
agreement contains guarantees of U.S. military
protection in case Saddam Hussein strikes against the
Kurds again, Massoud Barzani said in an interview at his
remote mountain headquarters in Sari Rash, or Black
Peak. "It's the first time the Americans have so openly
said they won't allow Saddam to harm us," said Barzani,
who is no relation to the former Vienna restaurateur.

>From the Kurds' perspective, such encouragement can be a
risky proposition.

When the 1991 Persian Gulf War ended with Iraq's retreat
from Kuwait, Iraqi Kurds rose up in arms, encouraged by
the United States and what they perceived to be the
crippling of Saddam Hussein's government. Iraqi troops
crushed the revolt, however, driving an estimated 1.5
million Kurdish refugees into Turkey and Iran.

But when the U.S., British and Turkish air forces
declared a "no-fly" zone inside Iraq north of the 36th
parallel, the refugees returned to what became a de
facto Kurdish safe haven. Ever since, an estimated 3.5
million Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed an unprecedented degree
of autonomy here in northern Iraq.

Clad in turban, baggy trousers and elaborate cummerbund,
Barzani spoke of his "vision for Kurdistan."

"In our hearts, we the Kurdish people will always
nurture dreams of independence," he said, "but we must
be realistic. Our neighbors will forever oppose that, so
we must do the best we can within the constraints posed
by our geography -- fight for our cultural and political
rights within Iraq."

In 1996, frustrated by what he described as Washington's
policy of using the Kurds to unsettle Saddam's
government without supporting their demands for
independence, Barzani invited Iraqi tanks to help him
drive Talabani's Iranian-backed forces from the enclave
for a month. The move led to the destruction of a CIA-
backed anti-Saddam coalition that was based in northern
Iraq and forced U.S. personnel in the enclave to flee.

Many Kurdish officials say that coexisting with a weak
Saddam Hussein, rather than confronting him, is in their
best interests.

"The most we can do is to build on what we have, manage
relations with our neighbors, not provoke the wounded
bear in Baghdad, and place ourselves in the strongest
bargaining position possible in time for when sanctions
against Iraq are lifted," said Hoshyar Zebari, a key
Barzani aide.

In some ways, life has never been better in the Kurds'
Iraqi enclave. "Taxes" levied by the Iraqi Kurds on the
thriving diesel fuel and consumer goods trade between
Turkey and Iraq -- in violation of U.N. sanctions
against Baghdad -- generate the equivalent of $500,000 a
day, according to Kurdish officials. This revenue has
raised living standards.

"People here are no longer buying gold and sitting on
it. They are adding rooms to their houses, displaying a
real sense of confidence in the future," said Stafford
Clarry, a top U.N. official, who has served in the
Kurdish safe haven since 1991.

Economic opportunities in what was once Iraq's most
backward region are beginning to lure Arabs too. A U.S.-
trained Arab computer technology professor, who declined
to be identified by name, said: "In Baghdad, I was only
making $30 a month and had no freedom. Here I make over
$100 dollars, have free housing and all the freedom I
want." The academic said as many as 25 Iraqi Arab
professors had come to teach at Salahuddin University in
Irbil over the past two years.

Because the two-year-old U.N. oil-for-food program
brings food to the Kurdish areas, Iraqi Kurdish
officials can spend proceeds from the border trade on
projects such as the military academy, as well as new
universities, roads, hospitals, and even a television
channel that broadcasts across Europe and the Middle
East via satellite.

But substantial sums of money also have wound up in the
pockets of a new Kurdish elite, who drive flashy
Mercedes-Benzes and sport diamond-studded Rolex watches
in jarring contrast with thousands of Kurdish refugees
still living in plastic tents.

In addition, the benefits of relative peace and
prosperity are not spread evenly across the Kurdish
enclave, which effectively is partitioned between
Barzani's and Talabani's groups. Barzani's faction has
long resisted sharing tax revenues with Talabani's
group, which does not control any territory along the
Turkish border and thus cannot collect its own. The
economic disparity between the two zones is glaringly
obvious -- notably in the fact that the military academy
serves Barzani's followers but not Talabani's -- and so
too is the lingering distrust between the two parties.
Military checkpoints on the frontier demarcating the two
sides remain in place.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to reconciliation is both
leaders' insistence that one acknowledge the supremacy
of the other. Barzani repeatedly has demanded that
Talabani acknowledge his party's victory in elections
the Iraqi Kurds held in 1992. Thumping his fist
emphatically on his desk during an recent interview,
Talabani said: "I will never, ever do that."

But such pragmatists as Zebari who have Barzani's ear
acknowledge that Talabani's group "is a fact of life
that we need to accept and live with."

"After all," Zebari said, "Washington agreed to defend
us against Saddam only if we don't fight each other.
That is something we need to keep in mind for the sake
of all the Kurdish people."

) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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