October 28, 2006

HALFWAY HOME:

Kurds keep the faith despite problems (Steve Negus, October 27 2006, Financial Times)

As bad as the present might be, they also recall a day 18 years ago when the Iraqi army rolled into town as part of its Anfal campaign, an attempt to isolate Kurdish guerrillas by depopulating the regions from which they drew their support. The Kurds estimate 180,000 people lost their lives. One policeman recalls how men, women and children were loaded into trucks and driven away, never to be seen again. “The [problems] today are all paradise compared to how it was then,” he says.

Like other ethnic communities emerging from a long struggle for independence, Iraq’s Kurds are going through a period of disillusionment with their wartime leaders.

The region, an oasis of stability in the country, is going through an economic boom as Iraqi capital flees north but many claim they have seen little benefit.

Kurds point to the region’s numerous half-finished roads and sniff that some party crony must have received the contract. They look at the ranks of shiny new condominiums on the outskirts of large towns and say they are out of the price range of all but the party elites.

Nonetheless, there is little serious challenge to the current government, largely because many Kurds see their independence struggle as only half-finished. Two years ago, the region held a non-binding referendum on whether Kurdistan should seek independence or remain part of Iraq. Nearly 99 per cent voted to break away.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2006 1:53 PM
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