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IRAQ: Kurds and the US occupation

Of all the peoples of Iraq, the Kurds gave US forces the warmest welcome, but, as the Reuters dispatch (15/4/03) explains, they warn against a US occupation in Iraq; "A Kurdish leader urged the US in an interview to grant Iraqis control of their country as soon as possible or face increasing resistance as an occupying power. "No people in the world want to remain occupied...If they stay for a long time and act like occupiers, then they will face resistance," Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), told the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily. "But if they act as promised and help rebuild a federal Iraq, then things will be different," he said. Barzani is the leader of one of two main parties in Kurd-controlled northern Iraq. The other is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani. Barzani told Al Hayat that the chaos and looting in the northern city of Kirkuk was a result of some Kurdish groups not abiding with an agreement by allied forced that Peshmerga forces would not enter the city. Barzani was referring to Kurdish fighters of Talabani's PUK. "Let us be clear, we had agreed with the Americans that Turkey would not enter northern Iraq and in exchange we do not enter Kirkuk and Mosul," he said. "The breach that happened made me fear for the future of Kirkuk," he added. Turkey is sensitive to suggestions Kurds may look to seize control of Kirkuk, fearing it would embolden its own Kurdish minority. Iraqi Kurd guerrillas said they would leave the city as US soldiers took control. The KDP governs two of three Iraqi provinces that make up the Kurdish zone, self-ruled since 1991 under the protection of the US and British patrolled no-fly zones. The US plans to host a broad-based conference of Iraqi opposition leaders near the southern Iraq town of Nassiriya in an attempt to lay the foundations for a transitional government".

Ronald Hilton - 4/15/03