August 21, 2006

The Kurds Go Their Own Way

Reason Spread.jpg

I'll have more material from Israel shortly. In the meantime, the feature article I wrote about Iraqi Kurdistan for Reason magazine is online now.

Two hours into my first tour of Erbil, my guide for the day taught me to feel lucky. “If we were doing this in Baghdad, we would be dead by now,” he said.

Our driver nodded vigorously.

“It’s that dangerous?” I asked.

“With your face,” my guide replied, “and with our Kurdish license plates on the car, we could not last two hours.”

So goes the capital of Iraq. But I was touring the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the war is already over.

There are no insurgents in Kurdistan. Nor are there any kidnappings. A hard internal border between the Kurds’ territory and the Arab-dominated center and south has been in place since the Kurdish uprising at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Cars on the road heading north are stopped at a series of checkpoints. Questions are asked. ID cards are checked. Vehicles are searched and sometimes taken apart on the side of the road. Smugglers, insurgents, and terrorists who attempt to sneak into Kurdistan by crossing Iraq’s wilderness areas are ambushed by border patrols.
Read the rest over at Reason magazine...

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 21, 2006 03:23 AM

Comments

Just how big is the Peshmerga?
I have seen varying reports of 60-110,000.

Also reports that 30,000 are in Iraqi Army. Most in 2nd (Mosul) and 4th (Kirkuk/Saladin) IA Divisions.

I notice you did not mention the ROK Army Bde that is stationed in the KAR (HQ Irbil).

Posted by: dj elliott at August 21, 2006 03:41 AM

Michael, your articles just keep getting better and better. I don't think I could ever read enough about the Kurds. I admire them and hope to go visit Iraqi Kurdistan next year.

Posted by: Renée C. at August 21, 2006 09:25 AM

Why do you think W. and the gang have not talked about this? Is it because they think they'll jinx it?

Posted by: Rachel at August 21, 2006 05:07 PM

Excellent article by the way

Posted by: Rachel at August 21, 2006 05:21 PM

The part of Iraq which will remain as a country. The peshmerga, I suspect are less likely to give up their arms as hizbo.

I also suspect that with the recent shelling of border regions by Ayatollahland, that something is up. Maybe the Americans will finally turn them loose. I believe that Seymour Hersh has reported that the Israelis have been training their special forces (what else could they be for?) The Israeli connection goes back to the 50's.

Maybe a coordinated movement with the People's Mojihedin of Iran is in the works?

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at August 21, 2006 09:16 PM

The only part of Iraq which will remain as a country. The peshmerga, I suspect are less likely to give up their arms as hizbo.

I also suspect that with the recent shelling of border regions by Ayatollahland, that something is up. Maybe the Americans will finally turn them loose. I believe that Seymour Hersh has reported that the Israelis have been training their special forces (what else could they be for?) The Israeli connection goes back to the 50's.

Maybe a coordinated movement with the People's Mojihedin of Iran is in the works?

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at August 21, 2006 09:16 PM

The only part of Iraq which will remain as a country. The peshmerga, I suspect are less likely to give up their arms as hizbo.

I also suspect that with the recent shelling of border regions by Ayatollahland, that something is up. Maybe the Americans will finally turn them loose. I believe that Seymour Hersh has reported that the Israelis have been training their special forces (what else could they be for?) The Israeli connection goes back to the 50's.

Maybe a coordinated movement with the People's Mojihedin of Iran is in the works?

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at August 21, 2006 09:17 PM

Mr. Toten just could not get beyond his disapproval of racial profiling “at its worst.” He is oblivious to the fact that the reason Kurdistan is relatively peaceful is because of such strict profiling. To Toten, the hurt feelings of the Arab bloggers who were turned away are too high a price to pay. That a few Arabs may otherwise be let in who would blow up a bus, hotel or marketplace does not figure in his thinking, although it’s obvious the Kurds are very concerned about this.

The “non-discrimination” is elevated above all security concerns. Would Mr. Toten prefer Kurdistan with a total freedom of movement for Arabs for a "small" price of 10 dead civilians every day?

Posted by: mik at August 22, 2006 10:18 AM

That a few Arabs may otherwise be let in who would blow up a bus, hotel or marketplace does not figure in his thinking

Try to understand something: When I (or anyone else) write for certain magazines I am not necessarily allowed to be as opinionated as I am on my own blog.

The Kurds have the right idea here. Absolutely.

Reading between the lines of journalism, understanding what is not said and why it might not be said, is a skill worth having.

Don't tell me I am "oblivious." You don't know me, and your mind-reading skills aren't that great.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 22, 2006 10:58 AM

Thanks again for your excellent reporting/commenting Michael, though you are probably tired of hearing people make this type of positive comment (well, o.k, perhaps not ).

Certainly appears that you have your ear to the ground and are making prudent choices.

What affect are Egypt, Saudia Arabia and Jordan having on the Lebanon/Israel/Syria/Iran situation?

Posted by: Ron at August 22, 2006 03:14 PM

Mr. Toten,

"Don't tell me I am "oblivious." You don't know me, and your mind-reading skills aren't that great."

I didn't try to read your mind, I don't think it is necessary. I read your piece because I familiar with and respect your work.

I don't think I have to know you to comprehend this piece.
Do you really want your work to be read only by people who know you personally? Rather limited market, isn't it?

I read your piece and from it concluded that you were oblivious. If you have problem with it, write another piece and make yourself clear.

"When I (or anyone else) write for certain magazines I am not necessarily allowed to be as opinionated as I am on my own blog."

Sure, but I do hope that you will not modify your opinions just for the sake of publishing.
Hacks do it and I don't think you are a hack.

"The Kurds have the right idea here. Absolutely."
Glad to hear it. Unfortunately it didn't come thru, likely culprit is my low IQ and low reading comprehension.

Posted by: mik at August 22, 2006 06:24 PM

Mik,

I didn't change my opinion, I removed it. I explained the situation without endorsing it or condemning it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 23, 2006 12:11 AM
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