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Wednesday, January 14, 2004
 
Safire Gets Something Right

Stop the presses! William Safire has written a thoughtful, reasoned column on the Kurdish problem in Iraq, that gets most of it right, and offers the framework of a potentially workable solution.
Now Americans and Kurds need each other's understanding. The U.S. is committed to helping to build a unified Iraq, with no path to secession, and with representation based on geography, not ethnicity. The Kurds, a 20 percent minority in Iraq, are committed only to autonomy within a federal Iraq: they refrain from declaring independence, but require constitutional and security guarantees that they will not be tyrannized again.

***

Commitments to unity and autonomy may not be in conflict, but they are not in accord. Though Arab Iraqis are happy to let the Kurds continue to run their local affairs in what used to be the no-flight zone, many find trouble arising in other Kurdish lands seized by Saddam, who drove Kurds from their homes and moved in his supporters to "Arabize" the area.

***

The solution should include relocation funds for Arabs displaced by returning Kurds; a referendum to decide status within a Kurdish or other Iraqi "governorate"; legal protections in Kirkuk for Turkmen, Christians and other minorities; and the pesh merga's place in Iraq's national military command.
This is evidence of the capablility of rational thought on the subject of a repressed and dislocated minority. Safire seems to understand the defiance of those determined to resist tyranny, and the justice of reparations for forced relocations and brutality. Given the sympathetic tone of his column, it seems he has even found room in his heart to forgive Kurdish terrorism. Where, then, does his utter contempt for Palestinian aspirations come from?