[PORK] Kurds--Liberation Allies or Next Years Palistinians
R. A. Hettinga
Wed, 19 Mar 2003 16:51:20 -0500
March 3, 2003
The Kurdish Ghost
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Mullah Mustafa Barzani was a leader of the 20 million Kurdish people ‹ the world's largest nation without a country ‹ through much of the 20th century. Betrayed in the 1970's by the Shah of Iran and the U.S. ("covert action should not be confused with missionary work"), the dying warrior was brought to a C.I.A. safe house in Virginia, where we had long talks before his death.
Because Iraqi Kurds under belated U.S. air protection have developed a democracy that will be a model for post-Saddam Iraq, my friend Mullah Mustafa granted me this interview from the Great Beyond.
Q: Have Kurds finally come to trust the Americans?
Barzani: We have had a saying for a thousand years: "The Kurds have no friends." America gave us air cover after the 1991 gulf war only when the television pictures of a half-million Kurdish refugees fleeing Saddam's slaughter made you ashamed. But we are grateful for our only decade of freedom.
Q: Then why are the Kurds worried about the coming liberation of the rest of Iraq?
Barzani: Because we think you made a deal with the Turks to sell us out again. To get them to let you use Turkey as the base for your northern front, you agreed to their demand not to arm my son Massoud's forces in Iraq. Together with Jalal Talabani's Kurds, that's 70,000 fighters who could be on your side to defeat Saddam. But you deny us the weapons to fight our common enemy.
Q: Isn't that denial because the Turks think you want to set up an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, and that 12 million Kurds in Turkey will want to break away and merge with you?
Barzani: That is the stuff of dreams. After finally getting some home rule and safety in Iraq, do you think we want to fight the whole Turkish Army? And fight the Americans, too, who have guaranteed the territorial integrity of Iraq after Saddam? The Turks cry "secession" because they want to crush Kurdish culture in Turkey, not because separation is a threat. You trust the Turks?
Q. Well, lately they've disappointed us, after we forced NATO to send them defensive equipment and we agreed to their $15 billion rental demand ‹ but how can we complain when Turkey sides with France and Germany to protect Saddam if that's its democratic choice?
Barzani: Don't complain, because you learned just in time that the Turks want to grab the oil fields of Kirkuk, our ancestral capital in Iraq, on the pretense that we're declaring Kurdish independence. You're lucky their Islamists in Parliament double-crossed you.
Q: But don't you see how we could shorten the war by a week with a thrust down from Turkey in the north?
Barzani: Of course ‹ and nearby is the base that my son Massoud and my old aide Jalal offer you in the north of Iraq. You could put your huge jets down in our airfields with over 5,000 troops and armor in time for your invasion up from Kuwait while the Brits slip in through Jordan. And we'll be at your side ‹
Q: But wouldn't your mountain fighters just get in the way of a motorized assault by a modern army?
Barzani: When you give our pesh merga the guns, mortars, rockets, chemical suits and gas masks they need, they will not only wipe out Al Qaeda's allies of Ansar al-Islam. Thousands of Kurds who cannot forget Saddam's poison-gas massacre at Halabja are ready to help root out his Republican Guard in the streets of Baghdad, if need be, to avenge the murder of our children.
Q: We wouldn't want any "score-settling" ‹
Barzani: The allies settled scores at Nuremberg and The Hague. Iraqis will also bring Baathist oppressors to justice.
Q: But is Iraq, with all its religious groups and ethnic factions, capable of unity and self-government?
Barzani: Sooner than some arrogant Westerners think. You'll help us set up our confederation, organize state and federal elections and courts, repudiate Saddam's corrupt Russian debt, get onstream outside OPEC, block Turkish and Persian mischief, and say goodbye. Then we'll forgive your betrayals of the past. And when you see Massoud and Jalal, tell them I ordered Kurds to stick together.
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org>
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