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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. http://www.krg.org/clarrysf-harvest-may03.asp 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 responsible;" 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: http://www.nadir.org/isku/ (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). Regards, Elga P.S. I am attaching an article about the Talabani/ Barzani factions, in case anyone is interested. -------------Fwd------------- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/iraq/stories/kurds122098.h tm 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 buckle. 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 -------------End------------- _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk