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Iraq's Kurds OK with sanctions?
September 16, 2001 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Iraq's Kurds OK with sanctions? (and from the Washington Post here) The Kurds in the no-fly zone recieve a fraction of the oil money under the sanctions and seem to be doing pretty well; there's food and medicine enough to go around, to say nothing of free elections and an abundance of political parties. Is there something I'm missing? It doesn't feel like it's being spun; nobody's making a big deal about it. But it does go against the conventional wisdom on sanctions...
posted by dreamless (16 comments total)

 
it's not being "spun" because it doesn't tow the left's line that America is to blame for all the dying kids in Iraq.
posted by justkurt at 10:07 PM on September 16, 2001


The sanctions were never supposed to hurt the Kurds. We were supposedly friends with the Kurds. They were going to overthrow Sudama for us. I think you need to know the players a bit better.

Off to listen to the Ex...
posted by thirteen at 10:17 PM on September 16, 2001


Saddam that is... heh.
posted by thirteen at 10:19 PM on September 16, 2001


Paging Dr. Freud, paging Dr. Freud...
posted by darukaru at 10:19 PM on September 16, 2001


The point seems to be this: the Kurds are doing fine with a fraction (presumably proportionate to their population) of the money that Iraq is receiving. So if other Iraqis are dying, it's not due to the restricted flow of money and goods into the country, but rather due to whatever happens to them after that point--Iraqi Kurdistan being a kind of control group.

This would weaken the argument against sanctions to: 'they give Saddam an excuse to abuse his own people and thus should be stopped.' Which doesn't really convince me.

But they seem to float to the top of the recent litanies of US crimes against the Middle East, regardless.
posted by dreamless at 10:40 PM on September 16, 2001


Amazing - has there been *any* mainstream coverage of this? I find it interesting that this doesn't seem to have been discussed during the Iraqi sanctions debates and that it hasn't been used as an example of what could be accomplished if the huge oil revenues weren't being wasted on arms races and corruption.
posted by adamsc at 10:43 PM on September 16, 2001


Kurds are singularly the most misfortuned of any race of people that have ever lived. While collectively they can form a reasonable republic of their own, borders drawn by the various colonial powers over the past two centuries have left them as miserable minorities in three (to five) countries.

The Iranian Kurds are a microcosm of rest of Iranian social makeup. They have Muslims as well as Christians who live happily side by side. Yet their regions are some of the most under developed places in Iran. The government could care less. They are not of the "right ethnicity."

The government of Turkey has not rounded up the Kurdish minority and smoked them up a la Nazis. Yet. Kurds in Turkey have absolutely no rights what so ever. One Kurdish female, who was raped while in Turkish jail, was sentenced by the judge for 'wrongful accusation' against her rapists.

The best thing to happen to the Iraqi Kurds is the Northern No-Fly-Zone. This stopped Saddam from torturing them even more.

America has actively funded the Kurds in Iraq while blinding away from the Kurds in Turkey and Iran. The Kurds in Iraq were recruited by CIA to generate unrest inside Iraq. Right after the Gulf War many of the Kurds in CIA payroll were 'rescued' from Iraq and their families given asylum in Michigan and Wisconsin. A few years ago Time Magazine ran a story on how they were coping with the culture shock. One teen age Kurdish girl in Wisconsin had run away with her Hispanic high school sweetie instead of being arranged married to her 35 year old uncle. A number of families had secretly carried out honor killing of their daughters who had 'given in to the temptations of America.'

Just looking at America's hypocritical policy on Kurds (Aiding with money and other support to the 'right kind' in Iraq, while staying silent on the Kurds of Iran and indirectly supporting the oppression against them by Turkish government) may give some clues on why some people in far off lands may be pissed off at 'America.'
posted by tamim at 10:51 PM on September 16, 2001


It's interesting to note that the Iraqi Kurds want heavier sanctions against Iraq, *and* they want the US to take a more active role in kicking Saddam out of power. It might just be that this is because the residents of the no-fly zone are protected and funded, but I wonder how many common Iraqis share this sentiment, if any who do are left alive.
posted by darukaru at 10:54 PM on September 16, 2001


Just to be fair: The Iraq Foundation, a pro-democracy group whose reprint of a Washington Post is posted above, is not in favor of sanctions - or at least not as they currently stand. Their stance can be found here. They are, however, in favor of an war crimes tribunal that would indict Iraqi leaders in Yugoslavia-type fashion, in order to increase pressure on them. They also want, as in Yugoslavia, funding and support of anti-Saddam and pro-democracy factions within the nation's borders. The far left didn't like U.S. support of anyone with Yugoslavia - or anything America did there - as far as I could tell, though, so they're not off the hook here. The Iraq Foundation also wants continued U.S. policing of the no-fly zone.
posted by raysmj at 11:00 PM on September 16, 2001


justkurt: if you would hover your mouse over the link in the post above, you would find that the story presenting this apostasy is, in fact, from The New Republic, a magazine commonly considered to be a left-wing publication (though it wavers from time to time). One will also note that American policy toward Iraq has nudged hardly a millimeter since the Republicans took the office of commander-in-chief, which should tell you something about how "leftist" that policy really was.

Democrat or Republican, Americans haven't cared to bring justice to Iraq, only the illusion that they care, meanwhile using Saddam's air force as some kind of glorified overseas training facility for ours. This has also provided the justification for continued US military presence in Saudi Arabia, which is allegedly one of the reasons we're terror targets today. Blowback for a strong and just American commitment to democracy? Or the just desserts of a barely interested imperialist state? So hard to decide, so hard to decide.

It has to be a particular disappointment that this success story, if it's to be believed, isn't better known throughout the Arab world. Or is it, and what the Kurds are building for themselves is seen as a) a threat (much like Islamic fundamentalism itself is seen by secular régimes); b) ethnic Balkanization; c) Western corruption of Islamic values?
posted by dhartung at 1:31 AM on September 17, 2001


dreamless: 'they give Saddam an excuse to abuse his own people and thus should be stopped'

You mean the sanctions should be stopped, but that’s silly. Sadam is a monster and he’s the one that should be stopped. The question is, why hasn’t he been? The US installs and purges world leaders whenever it wants. Iran, Yugoslavia, Indonesia, Chile, etc. Their one major embrassment being Cuba—Kennedy wasn’t much of a hawk. Why didn’t they move leaders around in Iraq? Why did the US decide to keep him there?

The US should’ve never supported Sadam. Not during the Iran-Iraq war, and not while he was murdering his own people. It backed a beast. That’s the major argument.

From the WP: the Kurds have never been able to establish and maintain their own country, and have remained powerless minorities wherever they lived.

Sounds vaguely like Palestine...

The U.S. government, however, has paid no attention to the impressive things that have been happening in the area.

Further evidence US intervention isn’t such a great thing.
posted by raaka at 2:33 AM on September 17, 2001


The point of this posting, which many of you seem to be missing, is that to blame Americans as the main culprits in the hardship of Iraqi people is wrong. The US sanctions policy does not succeed but instead galvanizes countries against us, as seen in Cuba as well as Iraq. However, the truth of the situation is that Saddam has been exploiting our embargo to kill his own people for political gain. And if sanctions are lifted he will again begin to stockpile weapons. Tough position for the US, but it is misdirected anger that blames the US for the Iraqi situation.
posted by wsfinkel at 6:23 AM on September 17, 2001


Err, just a small point: the embargo against "any drugs that can be used to maufacture chemical weapons" (practically most of them) and against infrastructure supplies like drills, does not apply to N.Iraq because it is perceived (and practically is) independent from and hostile to Saddam. The cash flow is also larger since assets of Iraqi Kurds have not been frozen etc. It's quite dissimilar to the situation in S. Iraq.
I wonder though how come a week doesn't pass where we don't receive (here in Greece) a shipload of mostly Iraqi and Turkish Kurd refugees with tales of terror about living conditions in Kurdistan.
posted by talos at 7:44 AM on September 17, 2001


dhartung: who said the sanction policy was leftist? I merely suggested that the media's silence on this issue was indicative of their leftish perspective.

And the fact that a few publications have covered sanctions from the Kurdish perspective does not undercut my assertion that the media overall has ignored the fact that the Iraqi peoples suffering is largely a result of their governments choice of guns over butter (and medicine).
posted by justkurt at 9:36 AM on September 17, 2001


Did anybody watch the film "A time for drunken horses"? If you can look at that movie as an american and say that the kurds are doing "pretty well", I'd say you're being somewhat disingenuous. Granted, they may not be as well off as the iraqis in the south, but that's not necessarily saying much.
It doesn't seem so unusual that an embargo that's not specifically designed to harm the kurds would treat them better than the iraqis.
But then again, I'm basing my whole argument on a movie, so what do I know? :)
posted by jnthnjng at 11:59 AM on September 17, 2001


whatever quality of life standard you use, the truth is that Iraq kills its own people by devoting so much of its resources to weaponry.

I can only imagine the hot air that would be expelled if the US devoted as much of its GNP to mass destruction weaponry as Iraq -- enough to solve California's self-created energy crisis I suspect.
posted by justkurt at 2:34 PM on September 17, 2001


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