Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Michael J. Totten in Iraq

If you're not reading Totten's dispatches from his travels in Iraq you're missing something fresh, informative and important.
Today he has pictures and descriptive comments about Dohok, which he calls the safest city in Iraq. Also prosperous, modern and pleasant.
Yesterday's post was a snapshot of Kirkuk, taken from the Kurds by Saddam but there for the taking whenever the Peshmerga move.

I asked KDP Minister Falah Bakir what “Our Jerusalem” was all about. Is Kirkuk some kind of cultural capital? Is there a historic significance to the city that I’m not aware of?

“No,” he said. “Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan. But it isn’t ‘Jerusalem.’ Kirkuk is Kirkuk, just as Erbil is Erbil and Mosul is Mosul.” It’s just another Kurdish city, in other words. It was dubbed “Our Jerusalem” by Jalal Talabani as part of a PR campaign.

The Peshmerga can militarily take Kirkuk any time the order is given. But they’re holding back. The Kurds want to take the city peacefully and with honor.

The trouble with taking the city honorably is that they first want to kick out the Arabs moved there by Saddam Hussein. They don’t want to evict all the Arabs. As I’ve mentioned before, Iraqi Kurds have no interest in creating an ethnic-identity
state. They only want to reverse Saddam’s Arabization campaign and make the city safe and secure as Erbil, Suleimaniya, and Dohok already are. Those Arabs who lived there before, those who are actually from there, are welcome to stay.

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