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Lets's talk about democracy
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Friday, 11 February 2005
The mess we're in....

Count-down to the end of the insurgency in Iraq.

"BAGHDAD (AFP) - US and Iraqi troops kept watch over the town of Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad after one of the biggest battles with insurgents that left dozens dead and scores wounded.

The battles on Thursday saw rebels firing rockets, mortars and machine guns in a full-scale assault on a police station in the town that lies in a region dubbed the triangle of death because of the number of insurgent attacks.

US helicopters were sent to the scene and opened fired to dislodge the rebels. The town was sealed off on Friday by Iraqi and US troops but police said it was calm.

Raids by government security forces appear to have triggered the battle."

This week over 168 people have been killed in attacks around Iraq. 50 dead just yesterday. Iraqi security forces have been the most effected. Good news though, the U.S. military points out there have only been about 60 attacks per day, which is about twice the level from a year ago, but hey, the election was a crashing success, right?

"Iraqi officials said Friday they need only a few days at most to complete counting the ballots. Officials had expected to announce a final tally by Thursday but later said the process had been delayed because of the need to recount votes from about 300 ballot boxes."

It looks like despite all the happy news before the election from the U.S. media, Allawi's party is a distant third, with the apparrent deal makers the Kurds. I guess, many Iraqis did see Allawi as a puppet of the U.S. after all.

The NY Times:

"If current election returns hold, the relatively secular Kurds may prove a necessary coalition partner, putting them in a position to limit any attempts by religious Shiites to install an Islamic government. Kurdish leaders said Tuesday that they were pushing for a Kurd to be president of Iraq.

They are also seeking guarantees that they can maintain an autonomous region in the north, which could in turn heighten tensions with neighboring countries that are suspicious of any moves toward Kurdish independence.

The electoral commission announced Monday that the main Kurdish coalition had 25 percent of the votes tallied so far, behind the leading Shiite slate of candidates but well ahead of other parties. About 4.6 million of an estimated 8 million votes have been counted.

The probable ethnic and sectarian breakdown of the votes still to be counted means the Kurds will likely get at least one-fifth of the assembly seats."

Kirkuk:

The Kurds are very likely to leverage this power to demand control of the city of Kirkuk. It produces about 40% of the country's oil and would be a great source of revenue for a independent Kurdish state, a great fear for the Turks.

The city is considered by Kurds to be their "Jerusalem" but is ethnically mixed. Saddam expelled many Kurds over the years and replaced them with Arabs, whether they wanted to go or not.

Turkmen are a large part of the population and are a flashpoint for Turkey if it feels they are threatened.

The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2003:

"...Turkey warns that any attempt by Iraqi Kurds to seize control of Kirkuk - as they did briefly during a 1991 uprising - will spark a Turkish military reaction."

Another problem is the PKK, or Kurdish Worker Party, which has been fighting the Turks for decades. They operate in the south eastern part of Turkey but they have bases on the Iraqi/Turk border. The U.S. knows they are there and even at one point agreed to operate against them in exchange for Turkey's assitance against Saddam. Luckily for everyone concerned, that didn't happen.

The World's Quil Lawrence reported yesterday that he went to a PKK base in northern Iraqi where there were fresh graves of PKK fighters. The implication was that they has died fighting in Mosul, where breakaway PKK leader Osman Ocalan is known to reside, under the noses of the U.S. military.

Celal Talabani, leader of the PUK, was quoted in the Turkish press in June of 2004 as saying Iraqi Kurds would not side with the PKK in their fight against Turkey.

However, the report said:

The Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah G?l warned the PUK leader not to change the demographic structure of the Northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. G?l said that the results could be catastrophic if the ethnic composition was intentionally changed.

Turkmens and Arabs criticized Kurdish groups for encouraging the migration of Kurds from the mountainous Northern Iraqi region with a view to changing the ethnic composition of the oil-rich Kirkuk and Mosul regions.

The Turkish Foreign Minister also urged the PUK leader not to tolerate PKK militants hiding in Northern Iraq. "If you are responsible for this region, then take the necessary action against the PKK militants."

Turkish intelligence sources believe that nearly 4,000-5,000 PKK/KADEK terrorists are hiding in the mountainous northern Iraq region."

The American propaganda news agency VOA reports Condi Rice said the U.S. is against PKK terrorism during her trip to Ankara last week:

"Some Turkish officials have accused the United States of being indifferent to Kurdish moves in northern Iraq they see as laying groundwork for a Kurdish state, which could fuel separatism among Turkey's Kurdish minority.

Turkish anxiety has only increased since Iraqi elections a week ago, in which Kurds turned out in large numbers, especially in the ethnically-mixed northern oil center of Kirkuk, seen as the potential capital of a Kurdish state.

At a closing news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Ms. Rice reiterated the U.S. commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, an implicit rejection of Kurdish statehood, and to an Iraq, in which all its religious and ethnic factions are welcome and respected.

She also said she told her Turkish hosts that Iraq's territory should never be a place from which terrorism can be committed against its neighbors.

"Indeed, from the American point of view, whatever terrorist organizations wish to perpetrate crimes against populations have to be treated the same," she said. "Whether it is the al-Qaida, the PKK, or the Palestinian rejectionists, terrorism is simply not an acceptable tool in the modern world, and I wanted to be certain that the minister and his colleagues knew of America's commitment to rid the region of terrorism, including terrorism that might take place from the territory of Iraq."

But obviously, the PKK is there out in the open and apparently also in Mosul. Either, the U.S. is tolerating the PKK in Iraq or they are unable to do anything about it.

Besides the worries of the Turks over an independent Kurdish state, Iran is also concerned. Espeacially, since the Mossad is reported to be training and arming Kurds.

Seymour Hersh Seymour Hersh reports the U.S. has screwed up Iraq so bad Israel decided to take things into their own hands:

"In a series of interviews in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, officials told me that by the end of last year Israel had concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government decided, I was told, to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel's strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq's Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan."

See a good summary of the Kirkuk problem at the NYT.

To be continued...

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:48 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 12 February 2005 4:34 PM EST
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