The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Thursday, February 28, 2008

News & Views 02/28/08

Photo: Shiites chanted anti-American slogans in Sadr City on Friday. (Shehad Ahmed/European Pressphoto Agency) [No date given for this photo. – dancewater]


Thursday: 7 Iraqis, 5 Arabs Killed; 10 Iraqis Wounded

Wednesday: 18 Iraqis Killed, 16 Wounded

US Troops Kill Iraqi Man With Broken Arm

Hundreds of journalists see off chief

Hundreds of Iraqi journalists paid their respects to the head of the press syndicate Shihab al-Temimi from the syndicate’s building in al-Wazieriya neighborhood in central Baghdad.

Audio: Poorest in Iraq Unable to Seek Refuge Listen Now

Sectarian violence has forced millions of Iraqis from their homes. An estimated 2.5 million cannot afford to cross the border and flee from one troubled region to the next. Aid workers say the internally displaced are not getting the help they desperately need.

Falluja women, painful stories of struggle

The number of women in Falluja that were widowed after 2003 is at least 5000. These figures imply that since April 2003 until February 2008, 86 women a month (almost 3 women a day) were widowed, according to a recent survey conducted by the Employment Center in the city in coordination with Falluja’s City Council. "My husband was a taxi driver, and due to an IED explosion, he lost his two legs, and his car was totally devastated; thus we lost all our sources of living in that incident," Um Waleed told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI), adding "It was my turn to be responsible for my family's living; the situation was rigid, but I did not step aside watching. In addition to having four kids going to school, I joined afternoon classes at the Falluja Education Institute where I earned the degree that enabled me to work as a school teacher."

…..From his side, Ali Ghazal, head of follow-up and coordination department at Al-Kher Charity Association in Falluja, told VOI "After the occupation, battles and violence created a vast amount of widowed women that live in the city under very bad conditions," adding "for this reason, we formed Al-Kher Charity Association to provide any possible assistance to widowed women in Falluja. Our role does not exceed delivering and distributing aids, such as foodstuff, clothes, and others, supplied by other humanitarian organizations to widowed women in Falluja."

Video: This Is Baghdad

We started at the top, taking in the view from some of the highest rooftops in the city. Baghdad sprawls over so many miles, and the Tigris River flows so crookedly, it’s quite difficult for a newcomer to get oriented. After the rooftop vistas, we chatted with people in a variety of neighborhoods. Almost all were friendly and willing to talk on camera.

‘Not Again’: Fleeing My Home

The American invasion came as a last chance to start again, even if late. But as they say, better late than never. I thought we could compensate for the lost decade of our lives. But all the dreams were shattered again when we had to leave our home in north Baghdad earlier this year. While I was driving out I was crying inside. I left my room, my library, books that I had bought through the years. This collection was so dear to me. I left my videotapes, hundreds of selected movies, home movies, even documentaries and news from TV bulletins of major events that I was keen on taping as an archive. The family photos were still there in their frames on the tables when we left, I took a glance at them and went out. A turmoil of mixed feelings of relief and deep anguish was burning inside. I knew my mother was feeling the same. I looked in my mother’s face, and saw the same look, the same frustration, and the same tears. My father had died a year ago, and my mother was older and lonely, her ability to fight destiny was less than before.

Seven million Shiites commemorate Imam Hussein killing

Dressed in black and green stripes and carrying colourful banners, at least seven million Shiite Muslims, including the Iraqi vice president, commemorated Thursday the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of prophet Mohammed, in the southern city of Karbala, Iraqi officials and media reports said. Millions of Iraqi Shiites along with at least 60,000 Shiite pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan, India and Iran carried food and water and walked for hundreds of kilometres to Karbala, following centuries-old rituals, in the hope that walking would earn them more rewards and blessings from God.


When he said it, our Iraqi staff chuckled. Yes the unidentified bodies in Baghdad have dropped, but violence has crept back up slightly, this month and the last, in the capital. The first day of February at least 99 people died in coordinated bombings here and when Shiites walked to Karbala, at least 40 died in a bombing at a roadside tent that offered refreshments to the pious walking to Karbala. One of our Shiite Iraqi staffers asked if Maliki would go to Adil, a restive Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad where Sunni insurgents still operate and Shiites know they are not welcome. Maybe he can check out Hurriyah where Sunni residents have not returned. They were run out of the neighborhood in 2006 and some men were burned alive. Maybe he can ask the more than 88,000 mostly Sunni contractors that work with the U.S. to fight Al Qaida how they feel about the reconciliation effort. Many of them are former insurgents, very few have been absorbed into the government. People complain now that many act as warlords, in each neighborhood the law is in their hands.

3 women arrested for distributing poisonous food

Security forces captured three women for distributing poisonous food in Iraq's holy Shiite city of Karbala, the police chief said on Thursday, noting that 30 other persons were arrested for their suspected involvement in several thefts in the city. Police forces arrested three women while they were distributing food, which was found poisonous after lab testing," Major General Raed Shakir Jawdat told Aswat al-Iraq, Voices of Iraq, (VOI). Jawdat did not elaborate on the poisonous substance in the food, but said it was "very poisonous." The arrested women have been subject to interrogation to disclose the body they are working for, according to the police chief.

School Opening Sign of Progress

"The children are the future of Iraq," he said. "It's a symbol of peace that we can get the schools back up. Inside the school are rooms full of new desks, blackboards and other furniture, which has been enhanced with new overhead lighting, freshly painted walls and colorful murals featuring Arabic and English alphabets, which symbolizes how far the institution has come in just a few short months.

From Missing Links blog:

Al-Hayat notes that some of the Sunni areas on the Sadr City to Karbala route have set up rest and welcome areas for the Shiite pilgrims, taking advantage of improved security conditions compared to last year, and hoping to contribute to a restoration of traditional relationships. The journalist says the Shiites have altered their route this year to include passage through some of the Sunni areas where there have been continual problems in recent years, and he adds: “But some of these areas surprised everyone, and set up, on the model of the Shiite areas, "tent and pavillion" areas offering water and drinks to the visitors, for instance in the Sunni Askan neighborhood in the Dora district, which was until a few months ago under the control of AlQaeda.”

Kurdish Students Demonstrate Against Turkish Offensive

Hundreds of Kurdish students, denouncing the military offensive launched by the Turkish army against Kurdish guerrillas inside Iraq' Kurdistan region, took to the streets in Arbil on Wednesday. Raising placards calling to "stop the bloodshed," demonstrating students, mostly Kurds from Turkey, Iran, and Syria studying at the College of Arts University of Salahuddin, condemned the Turkish reaction towards Kurdistan's Workers party (PKK) and the Turkish advance into Kurdistan region. "Turkey wants to undermine the gains of Kurds and Kurdistan," Nizar Hussein, a student, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).


Parliamentary committee in Kurdistan to assess Turkish invasion damage

A parliamentary investigation committee will head for Kurdistan soon to assess damages and losses due to the Turkish military operations in northern Iraq, said a lawmaker on Thursday. Safieya Souheil told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) that she is a member of the committee along with MP Methal al-Alusi. ‘The committee will assess all violations resulting from the Turkish invasion from material and humanitarian aspects and will present a report to the parliament within this context,” she also said. The MP said she will file a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights against these violations.

U.S.backed Sunni militia may ‘disintegrate’ as Qaeda mounts deadly attacks

Pressure is mounting on the so-called ‘Awakening Councils’ from inside the government and their avowed enemy al-Qaeda. These councils include tens of thousands of tribal Sunni fighters who the U.S. has created, armed and financed. Their leaders say they have become targets of deadly attacks by Qaeda as well as Shiite militias which Iran arms and supports. Many in the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki openly oppose the formation of Sunni militias and are denying them financial benefits and recognition. The government has balked at plans to have the militias integrated into the Iraqi security forces despite mounting U.S. pressure.

Falluja Awakening Council infiltrated by al-Qaeda

The Falluja Awakening Council fighters are being infiltrated by al-Qaeda elements, the chief of local police said on Wednesday. “Police forces and the Awakening Council fighters came under several armed attacks during the past two months because of the security infiltrations inside the council’s fighters,” he explained. He called on the Awakening Councils to coordinate with Iraqi security forces, mainly in providing them with accurate information on their new fighters.

Sunni Forces Losing Patience With U.S.

U.S.-backed Sunni volunteer forces, which have played a vital role in reducing violence in Iraq, are increasingly frustrated with the American military and the Iraqi government over what they see as a lack of recognition of their growing political clout and insufficient U.S. support. Since Feb. 8, thousands of fighters in restive Diyala province have left their posts in order to pressure the government and its American backers to replace the province's Shiite police chief. On Wednesday, their leaders warned that they would disband completely if their demands were not met. In Babil province, south of Baghdad, fighters have refused to man their checkpoints after U.S. soldiers killed several comrades in mid-February in circumstances that remain in dispute.

Sadr anger over Iraq law setback

A spokesman for the bloc, Nassar Rubaie, denounced the council's decision as a form of dictatorship. He said his group was considering calling for sit-ins and a general strike in protest. The presidency council has not said which of its three members objected to the law. However, Sadrist politicians have blamed the decision on one of the vice-presidents, Adel Abdulmahdi, who is a senior figure in a rival Shia party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. The draft law would have paved the way for provincial elections. Its rejection is being seen as setback in the process of reconciling Iraqi factions.

Iraqi Kurds OK Force if Turks Go Near Civilians

Lawmakers in northern Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region authorized their military Tuesday to intervene if Turkish forces pursuing anti-government rebels bring their battle into civilian areas. The move heightened fears that the conflict could draw in Iraqi Kurdish forces and destabilize the one region of Iraq that has been relatively peaceful since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Tensions also were growing between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and Turkey, which sent thousands of ground troops over the northern border into Iraqi Kurdistan last week.

IRAQ: Mahdi Army ceasefire announcement boosts peace, security

The security situation in Iraq is set to improve further after powerful Shia political leader Muqtada al-Sadr announced a six-month extension to his militia's unilateral ceasefire on 22 February, analysts said. This bodes well for the economy, ordinary civilians, some two million internally displaced persons, and over two million refugees living abroad, who may now begin to trickle back home. Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army was formed in the turbulent months following the US-led invasion in 2003, and launched two major uprisings against US-led forces in 2004. "This step has multiple advantages for al-Sadr. It enables him to present himself as a political figure interested in reducing violence for all Iraqis, and as a more popular alternative to other Shia rivals," said Abdul-Hadi Nasser Joda who lectures in international law at the University of Basra.

Maliki hails unity as Shiites crowd Iraq shrine city

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki hailed success in national reconciliation on Thursday as he joined millions of Shiite Muslims at a holy ceremony in the shrine city of Karbala. "The terrorists wanted to tear apart Iraq... destroy its unity. They wanted sectarian strife and a civil war but with your hands you banished the spectre of civil war," Maliki said. He was speaking to a vast crowd of pilgrims gathered at the Imam Hussein shrine -- one of the most sacred for Shiites -- where the faithful beat their chests and chanted in trance-like unison for Arbaeen. Officials said a record 10 million people converged on the city for the ceremony which marks the anniversary of the 40th day after the seventh century slaying in Karbala of the revered Imam Hussein. ……Despite the fear of such bloodshed, the Shiite faithful thronged Karbala."I came to Karbala with my family and children after walking for 12 days. We were not afraid of terrorists," said Fawziyah Kadhim, 50, from the southern city of Basra.


Will an extended Turkish offensive further destabilize Iraq?

[Simple answers to simple questions: YES – dancewater]

Turkey: Iraq Invasion May Last a Year

US: Turkey Acting 'Responsibly' in Iraq Attack

Kidnapped Briton in Iraqi video

AN armed group holding five Britons captive in Iraq demanded British forces release nine Iraqi prisoners in exchange for their freedom in a videotape aired by the Al-Arabiya news channel overnight.

US Paid $42.4 Million to Wronged Iraqis Since Early 2005

The Pentagon has paid more than $40 million to Iraqis whose family members were accidentally killed or their property destroyed by coalition military action since the beginning of 2005, according to interviews and documents that provide a glimpse into the extent of continuing civilian casualties in the conflict. The condolence payments are meant to mitigate anger against the U.S. military as it works to reduce violence in Iraq. They are in keeping with a system in Iraqi Muslim culture in which a payment for damage or death eliminates the need for revenge. Though they have spent the money, military officials say they can't account for how many victims it covered

EU, U.S. talk Iraqi relations

EU officials concluded talks with Iraq on economic cooperation as U.S. officials began preparations for a status-of-forces agreement there. The fourth round of negotiations to reach a trade agreement between Iraq and the European Union kicked off with pledges of support from EU officials on reconstruction issues, Voices of Iraq reported Wednesday.
"The agreement comes as part of the EU's plan to support and assist Iraq in establishing development and political stability and its efforts towards reconstruction, and to achieve an EU-Iraq economic fusion," and EU statement read. EU officials stated the objective of the agreement was to enhance economic cooperation between Iraq and the EU "in the fields of economy, industry, agriculture, science, human rights, energy, security, transport, education, training, environment, culture, and archeology." [But mainly, OIL. – dancewater]

Audio: Bombing Probe Leads to Iraqi Psychiatric Hospital Listen Now

U.S. military officials in Baghdad say they're investigating whether the acting director of a psychiatric hospital in the Iraqi capital was involved with two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people earlier this month. Fear that al-Qaida in Iraq or other insurgents are using mentally ill Iraqis as bombers swept through the al-Rashad hospital, where records show the two women had been treated. Doctors say the panicked reaction has added to their many problems.

Iranian leader's visit to Iraq may upstage U.S.

President Bush's leading nemesis in the Middle East, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, begins a two-day state visit to Iraq on Sunday, attempting to highlight Iran's role as the region's major power and upstage Bush and the U.S. military presence. Unlike Bush, who's traveled to Iraq twice unannounced and on his last visit never left an American base in Anbar province, Ahmadinejad not only announced his trip in advance but also is planning to visit two major Shiite Muslim holy sites, Karbala and Najaf, at the end of a mammoth Shiite pilgrimage that was marred by a suicide bombing. The out-of-town visits raise security questions in the face of the continuing threat from Sunni Islamist extremists. But the images of Ahmadinejad at sacred sites are certain to impress Iranians, who in two weeks will vote in parliamentary elections at a time when soaring oil prices haven't eased Iran's economic troubles.

U.S. Treasury freezes assets of four Syrians

The U.S. Treasury froze assets of four Syrians on Thursday saying they facilitated the flow of money, weapons and terrorists through Syria to al Qaeda in Iraq. "Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Syria has become a transit station for al Qaeda foreign terrorists on their way to Iraq," Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. The four Syrians are said to be members of Abu Ghadiyah's network, the Treasury Department said.


Shocking new images, shocking claims

Psychologist and expert witness at Abu Ghraib trials releases new images and asks: are we too all capable of that kind of abuse? Horrific new images of abuse at Abu Ghraib have been released by an expert witness in the trial of one of the guards involved, but even more disturbing is his claim that we are all capable of such torture. A grisly slideshow of the new photographs, alongside previously released images, was put together by the psychologist Philip Zimbardo. The slideshow has been published by Wired alongside a chilling interview with Zimbardo (warning: you may find the images disturbing). He was an expert witness in the defence of Sergeant Chip Frederick, one of the most senior guards charged with torturing Iraqi prisoners. In 1971 Zimbardo conducted a notorious psychological experiment about ordinary people's capacity for cruelty. The Standford prison study had to be stopped because of the levels of abuse that volunteers, acting as guards, began to mete out against volunteers acting as prisoners.

America Loves Peace? Odd, Since We're Always at War

We've been in conflict for about half the period between World War II and the present but consider ourselves a "peace-loving" nation. Americans love to think that we're a peaceful people and that we fight wars only when we must. Unfortunately, you can count in nanoseconds how long those assertions hold up when exposed to such insidious commie dirty tricks as the application of logic or the examination of empirical history. Sure, any war can be spun as some necessity against some Very Bad Person, preferably of brown skin, slanted eyes and/or differing deity. Not only can any war be so spun, probably every war there ever was has been, at least since the days when governments had to start offering some justification or another for their little foreign adventures. But pick your barometer -- any one will work -- and you'll quickly see who the militant folks on the planet really are. For America, it turns out -- gulp -- to be that bloated, frightened meth-addict staring back at us in the mirror, not some overseas evil emperor du jour. For example, suppose you wanted to measure comparative national warlike tendencies by simply counting wars. Since World War II, the United States has messed around, in ways big and small, in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Iraq, Panama, Colombia, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Afghanistan again, and Iraq again. No country in the world can begin to match this record in the last half-century.

From Our Archives 5 Years Ago Today: Fallacies and War: Misleading a Nervous America to the Wrong Conclusion

One of the favorite methods of the current administration is a false dilemma. This is when only two choices are given when, in reality, there are more options. Right after 9/11 you heard, “You are either with us or against us,” in the fight against terrorism. Actually, countries can be both against terrorism and not an ally of the U.S. More recently, many countries are showing that they are both against a pre-emptive war and against the current Iraqi regime. We are also hearing we must attack Iraq or Saddam will develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and threaten the world if we do nothing. Other options of monitoring with inspectors and containment are just flatly discounted. Are we to believe that Saddam could develop nuclear weapons while the world has him under a microscope?

'We had no idea we were not wanted'

During the Gulf war against Saddam the town's two bridges over the Euphrates were destroyed from the air, and in 1991 the town suffered a severe atrocity, when British planes dropped several bombs on the main market, killing 276 civilians. So, although the bombing that Falluja suffered in the 2003 war was less heavy, memories of earlier encounters with the British and Americans were not likely to make the city greet the 82nd Airborne Division with delight. Before they reached Falluja, US troops - and their neo-con masters in Washington - would have benefited from knowing a little of the city's nationalist history and Islamist traditions. I asked Lt Col Nantz whether he had ever considered keeping his troops on the edge of Falluja rather than occupying a school in a suburb. "No, I never considered that at all," he replied. "This is the place where you need to be engaged. We want the Iraqis to build themselves up and you can't help them do that if you're sitting outside. Our way is to be inside and help them build a police force and so on. We had no idea we weren't wanted."


Help Iraqi refugees or they may come to Europe-UN

Iraqi refugees who are running out of money in Syria may head for Europe if the international community fails to supply sufficient relief funding, the United Nations said on Thursday. "I think they will move north if things don't get better," UNHCR head of operations in Syria, Laurens Jolles, told reporters on a trip to Europe aimed in part at boosting funding from governments. The number of Iraqis seeking asylum in European Union member states doubled in 2007 from the previous year to almost 40,000. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 1.5 million Iraqis have fled sectarian violence to neighbouring Syria and more might move towards the EU in the hope of jobs, safety and better conditions.

Release: Iraqi Refugees Find Legal Footing in Lebanon

Refugees International praised the decision by the Lebanese government to legally recognize thousands of Iraqis seeking refuge there and release hundreds of Iraqis in detention. Last week, the Lebanese government announced the new program, which will allow Iraqis a three-month grace period to find an employer to sponsor them and legalize their status in the country through a work permit. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that the decision should help about two-thirds of the adult Iraqi refugee population.

Iraqi family sues soldiers in Australia

An Iraqi family is seeking compensation in court from Australia's government for gunshot wounds sustained when Australian troops opened fire at a Baghdad checkpoint, a lawyer said Thursday. The al-Saadi family of five are living in the eastern Australian city of Brisbane on a special visa that enables the mother, Lamyaa, and her 11-year-old son Ahmed to get long-term hospital treatment for gunshot and shrapnel wounds they suffered in 2005, lawyer Kerrie Jackson said. Previously, Australian officials in Iraq have directly compensated some families of civilians killed or injured there. But Jackson said the lawsuit lodged Tuesday in Supreme Court of Queensland is the first claim in an Australian court against the government over the actions of Australian soldiers in Iraq.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees


Noam Chomsky: Why is Iraq Missing from 2008 Presidential Race?

In a major address, Noam Chomsky says there has been little change in the conventional debate over a US invasion abroad: from Vietnam to Iraq, the two main political parties and political pundits differ only on the tactics of US goals, which are assumed to be legitimate. On the other hand, public opposition to war has also remained consistent, Chomsky says, but, whether Iraqi or American, ignored.

I'd Rather Live The Lie

There's no doubt in my mind that the US knew Saddam Hussein was just a tired, petty old geezer who just wanted to grow old and die in his private ranch, Iraq. They clearly have not a care for either Kurdish or Shia oppression and are probably cursing the day they listened to people like al-Chalabi, who explained to them that Iraqis are freedom-loving people with a clear sense of nationhood that only need to be rescued from the cruel dictator, and not a collection of sects still living in a medieval mentality where that dictator was the only force holding it together, a country where most of the population would listen to their God's representatives, the Ayatollahs, before anyone else. We all knew the stuff about WMDs were lies exacerbated as an excuse, however, fed up with living long days in backwardness, we [well, Kurds, Shias, and me with a few ignorant Sunnis who didn't know what Iraq really is] cheered for that lie because we thought Saddam was the only reason stopping us from a modern advanced country. Today, after looking the ugly truth in the eye. I'd rather curl up and die in the comforting fact that Iraq will not be a modern country because my scapegoat, Saddam is suffocating it than realize the fact that a solid "Iraq" isn't there to exist in the first place.

The true cost of war

So what did the Republicans say? "They had two reactions," Stiglitz says wearily. "One was Bush saying, 'We don't go to war on the calculations of green eye-shaded accountants or economists.' And our response was, 'No, you don't decide to fight a response to Pearl Harbour on the basis of that, but when there's a war of choice, you at least use it to make sure your timing is right, that you've done the preparation. And you really ought to do the calculations to see if there are alternative ways that are more effective at getting your objectives. The second criticism - which we admit - was that we only look at the costs, not the benefits. Now, we couldn't see any benefits. From our point of view we weren't sure what those were."

Nobel laureate estimates wars' cost at more than $3 trillion

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than $2 billion. Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate now estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than $3 trillion. That estimate from Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War," which hits store shelves Friday.

Staying to Help in Iraq

The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home." But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country. In the six months since my previous visit to Iraq with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this humanitarian crisis has not improved. However, during the last week, the United States, UNHCR and the Iraqi government have begun to work together in new and important ways. [I think this last part is wishful thinking. – dancewater] …..It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do. [Which bush administration person stated THAT? Seems to me they intended to destroy the place, and that MISSION has been ACCOMPLISHED. – dancewater]

Iraq's Kurds deserve better neighbours

"The PKK is the result of and not the reason for Turkish actions," was the curt message from the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, when a British parliamentary delegation visited him shortly before Turkish troops crossed into Iraq late on Thursday 21 February. For decades, Turkish governments have denied the rights of the country's Kurds. This more than anything has fuelled the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Addressing that issue would surely be better than infringing the sovereignty of the most successful part of Iraq. Besides, the PKK is based mainly inside Turkey, which has failed to deal with the problem for more than 24 years. Some PKK guerrillas are perched in the largely inaccessible Qandil mountains on the border between the two countries but have proved impossible to dislodge. Barzani should know: he co-operated several times with the Turks to try to do just that. Some fear al-Qaeda could take over Qandil. In fact, the Kurdistan Regional Government strongly opposes the PKK. There is obvious fellow feeling between Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria, but the PKK's actions do the Kurds no favours. KRG ministers believe Turkey is using the PKK as a pretext to constrain Iraqi Kurdistan.

……Kurdistan is moving from a bloody past to an uncertain future. It has history in abundance: 182,000 Kurds died and 4,000 villages were razed in Saddam's genocidal Anfal campaign. Children are still being born with deformities caused by his chemical weapons. All this weighs heavily on the small, landlocked region, but there are signs of hope blowing in the wind, literally.

Quote of the day:
All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal. ~
John Steinbeck, "Once There Was A War" 1943