Kurdistan – Time for self rule?

The Iraqi Kurds have been bombed and gassed, persecuted and starved by their enemies. Now when they wish to rule themselves the world says No.

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Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

The downwash from the CH53G helicopter whirled dust off the hot concrete apron and gravity dropped it back down on the Mi-8 helicopter on the ground. The Iraqi minders surrounding the Soviet era helicopter covered their eyes and soon looked like toys on the ground. At a few hundred feet altitude the gun positions sprinkled along the surrounding hills came into view and the thick black smoke off a nearby petroleum processing plant drifted our way.


Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

It was exhilarating to be free to do what we needed to do without our Iraqi minders as the black nose of the Sikorsky turned east towards Sulaymaniyah. Even though not North of the 36th parallel it lay within the No-Fly zone that protected large parts of Kurdistan from Saddam’s air assaults. There would be no need to share our destination or to trade elbow jabs in the open side door. Through the coms-headset the pilot called “BULLDOG”. A squawk and BULLDOG the surveillance AWACS aircraft high above us cleared us for entry into the No-Fly Zone. Without confirmation we would have been a large sitting duck and could have been a mistaken and easy target for the Tornado and F16 fighter jets patrolling the airspace.


Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

To make the most of the opportunity without Iraqi restrictions the German pilot swept low over the mountain ridges and engaged in a bit of “tactical” flying following the ups-and-downs of the topography. The white painted UN marked “bird” turned into a large roller-coaster cart. I swallowed a few times as my stomach shifted vertically and sucked in some fresh air with my head out the open door. Ten meters below the ground passed by at a cruising speed of close to 300 km/hr. A wide grin more smeared than spread across my face as I aimed the camera out the window. I loved every minute of it.


Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

Perhaps that exhilaration I felt back in the early 1990ies flying over the grand land of Northern Iraq is what the Kurds themselves will feel should they vote for Independence in today’s referendum. No matter what the consequences they like all other humans have the right to self-determination. Paradoxically even the UN’s own Security Council last week voted anonymously against a referendum.


Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

Shame on the current fifteen members states including my own country Sweden, the other nine none permanent members ( Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Ukraine, Uruguay) and especially of the P5 (USA, Britain, France, China and Russia) who have all turned the UN into a travesty of what it set out to be not even abiding by its own core principles as set out in the UN Charter which reads in Article 1, Chapter 2: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”



Shame on the current fifteen members states including my own country Sweden, the other nine none permanent members ( Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Ukraine, Uruguay) and especially of the P5 (USA, Britain, France, China and Russia) who have all turned the UN into a travesty of what it set out to be not even abiding by its own core principles as set out in the UN Charter which reads in Article 1, Chapter 2: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”



After the 2003 invasion of Iraq US and most Western nations insisted on imposing a democracy on a country who had never had it and had no solid institutions (except for a repressive dictatorial regime). That experiment failed miserably at the cost of the lives of millions, the birth of a terrorist threat stronger than the (western) world has ever seen, the failure of a neighbouring nation leading to more refugees than any time since WWII.



Meanwhile in the North of the country Kurdistan have flourished since the imposition of the No-Fly zone in the early 1990ies. They have built institutions, held elections, discussed and come to terms between the feuding factions (PUK and KDP). The economy has grown, investments been made and peace have prevailed except for incursions by Turkey. So now the same UN wants to prevent a large prosperous ethnic group without a homeland from creating one with democratic means. Really?



Kurdistan is for the Kurds and only they have the right to determine their own future, all others opinions and interference and UN-necessary.


Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

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