November 2, 2004


Kurds enjoy peaceful corner of Iraq (Thomas Fuller, November 2, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

Iraq Truck drivers here say they are not worried about ambushes; shopkeepers report that security is not an issue; and local residents shrug off questions about violence and kidnappings.

"We have not closed our shutters at night in seven years," Abdul Wahid Hassan said inside his shop filled with brand-new refrigerators, televisions and air conditioners.

While cities like Baghdad and Falluja are riven by insurgency, this dusty, sprawling city is part of the other Iraq, a region that stays out of headlines and where life resembles something closer to normalcy.

Populated mainly by Kurds, Iraq's northernmost region forms a thin peace crescent around the upper rim of the country, extending from Duhok to Erbil and Sulaimaniya, cities that are less familiar abroad precisely because they have largely avoided attacks.

One northern governor talks about promoting tourism, a seemingly outlandish idea in a country gripped by violence but a measure of the security that Kurds feel they have achieved.

"People find it very difficult to believe that there is a safe area in Iraq," said Barzan Dezayee, the minister of municipalities in the regional Kurdish government, who is leading a campaign to raise funds for water and sewage projects.

"We need to convince people that not all of Iraq is Falluja, that Kurdistan is safe," Dezayee said.

They must not have gotten the memo about Muslims being incapabale of building decent societies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 2, 2004 6:54 AM

They are not Muslim Arabs, that makes a difference.

Posted by: Bart at November 2, 2004 10:34 AM

The Kurds had the same advantage as the Germans and Japanese - forced dependance on the US because the alternative was rape and murder at the hands of an invading army. The Kurds were therefore amenable to learn from us, and the decade long occupation gave enough time for the lessons to stick.

No such situation exists among the Shi'ites or Sunnis.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 2, 2004 10:40 AM

With the Shi'a it's theological. What advantage did Eastern Europe have under the Bolsheviks?

Posted by: oj at November 2, 2004 10:44 AM

It'll be interesting to see, once the police are gone, whether the Kurds give up their habits of fighting each other and raiding the Armenians.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 4, 2004 4:46 PM