News Release

Two Views on Kurdish Iraqi Leader

EDMUND GHAREEB
Professor of Kurdish and Middle East Studies at American University, Ghareeb is author of The Historical Dictionary of Iraq. He said today: “Along with Massoud Barzani, Jalal Talabani has been the most prominent Kurdish leader for decades. This is a landmark step for the long-suppressed Kurdish minority. It signals the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. It sends a signal to Arab opinion within Iraq — and the neighboring states — that the Kurds intend to remain in Iraq. It is also significant for the unity of the Kurds within Iraq that Talabani was backed by the two major Kurdish factions. Now the critical issues: How to be inclusive, what kind of constitution to have, the role of Islam, the basic issues of lack of fundamental services, crime, unemployment and crucially the role of the U.S. forces and a deadline for their departure, as some groups in Iraq are calling for, must be dealt with.”

VERA BEAUDIN SAEEDPOUR
Founder of the Kurdish Library and the Kurdish Museum, and editor of Kurdish Life, Saeedpour said today: “‘There are some tendencies for independent Kurdistan, but I believe that I will overcome these as our influence increases. I was a Kurdish Iraqi, now I will be an Iraqi Kurd.’ This quote from [the Turkish newspaper] Zaman (2/27/05) was the latest in a string of Jalal Talabani’s epiphanies. Back in 1991 the New York Times reported that he told reporters the ‘Kurdish parties no longer regarded Kirkuk as an integral part of Iraqi Kurdistan.’ (5/3/91) That he becomes president, not of Kurdistan, but of Iraq, while 1.7 million Kurds petitioned the UN for a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq — is yet another sign of his life and times. In fact, the March annual meeting of the Kurdish National Congress in Nashville titled the conference, ‘Kurdish Independence, Democracy and Regional Stability’ and noted in its actions: ‘The referendum represents the aspiration and the goal of the Kurdish people in Southern Kurdistan’ (read northern Iraq). This [was] based on the illusion that independence or virtual independence for the Iraqi Kurdistan will be replicated in Iran, Syria and Turkey.”

Saeedpour added: “Neither Talabani nor any Kurdish leader will diminish, no less defeat, Kurdish aspirations.

“I conducted a detailed survey of Kurdish aspirations in 1990 and learned that irrespective of their location and irrespective of whether they couched their demands in terms of autonomy, or federation, their aim was an independent greater Kurdistan. And Talabani knows it. Unfortunately, the Kurds have not developed either program or process to achieve it.

“Instead they rely, as they are wont to do, totally on the ‘kindness’ of strangers. Since the first Gulf war, under Bush I the U.S. determined to divide Iraq, not externally, but internally. The strategic location of the Kurdish north and its connections to restive Kurds in neighboring Iran and Syria, and Turkey, renders Iraqi Kurdistan invaluable as a base from which to influence events in the region. Moreover, Iraqi Kurdistan will provide Israel with its first outpost of influence in the Middle East. All that has transpired vis-a-vis the Iraqi Kurds since then has served to generate the status quo, not only to provide the Kurds with ‘virtual’ independence, but to use them as the conduit through which the U.S. controls Baghdad as well.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167