Stafford sent us the following from the Belfast Telegraph newspaper, which he describes as a particularly well written and informative piece:
Violence and suffering disfigure Iraq on a daily basis. But not everywhere is blighted. The Kurdish region is largely peaceful, and cities are beginning to thrive. So after decades of bloodshed, could its people's goal of self-determination finally be realised? Patrick Cockburn reports on an unexpected consequence of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein
In northern Iraq, stretching in a crescent from Iran to Syria, is one the strangest states to emerge in the world over the past half century. In theory, Iraqi Kurdistan is not independent but it is more powerful than most members of the United Nations. It has an efficient army. It remains part of Iraq but Baghdad has little influence on its actions. An old saying in the region claimed bitterly that "the Kurds have no friends but the mountains". But today its leaders make and break Iraqi governments. Once the White House and Downing Street ignored their existence, but now they are received with acclaim as important allies by George Bush and Tony Blair.
The struggle of the Iraqi Kurds for self-determination has been longer and bloodier than that of any nationalist movement outside Vietnam. It began under the British in the 1920s when "Bomber" Harris, later the commander of the air offensive against Germany, practised his art against Kurdish villages. Setting the tone for Baghdad's treatment of the Kurds over the rest of the century, he wrote with approval in 1924: "They now know that within 45 minutes, a full-size village can be practically wiped and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured."
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