This post has nothing to do with any other threads except one, some time
ago, in which John asked where people got their information and I
mentioned I liked The Economist. Just by coincidence, after being so
puffed up with pride that I got a letter published in the Economist (and
not just a little filler in the LR corner), I actually decided I should
read the magazine, rather than just, I dunno, frame it or something.

Here are two articles from which I learned a lot. I just offer them up
as examples of why I like the magazine.  I also noted in the Globe and
Mail today that the circulation for the US's 3 major serious general
current interest magazines (whatever that phrase means), The New Yorker,
The Atlantic Monthly and Harper's, are actually up -- that the Cyberage
hasn't harmed them in the least. I subscribe to the first 2 and am being
forced by cut-backs to let the 3rd one go, but find them very useful,

Anyway, these are, I'm afraid, both premium material (available on the
internet only to subscribers) so I'm going to cheat and share them with
you. The first is about the Kurds and Turkey, and the second is about
the rebellion in Côte d'Ivoire

Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds

Allies from hell
Oct 3rd 2002 | ANKARA
>From The Economist print edition

While the Kurds look to semi-independence in a post-Saddam Iraq, some
Turks are looking back to Ottoman dominion with nostalgia

AS THE American administration accelerates its efforts to drum up
international support to unseat Saddam Hussein, it faces open dissent
from two of its most prized, and most mutually hostile, allies: Turkey
and the Iraqi Kurds. With tension growing between the two, American
officials are trying to find a magic formula to satisfy their
irreconcilable demands.

Turkey, declaring that it will not take part in any operation against
Iraq that could result in the creation of an independent state for that
country's 3.5m or so Kurds, has vowed to intervene militarily should the
Iraqi Kurds make any move in that direction. No matter that the Kurds
themselves say they understand that independence is not a realistic
ambition. Turkey also says that it is equally opposed to the
establishment of the federal zone within a united Iraq that the Iraqi
Kurds insist is their right, and that they are demanding in exchange for
their support for an American-led operation.

Turkey fears that a federal arrangement would lead to similar demands
not just from its own 12m-odd Kurds, but also from Iran's 6m. It would,
suggests a Turkish diplomat, “create an inextinguishable inferno of
regional chaos and instability.”

Turkey has economic worries as well. Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime
minister, was in Ankara this week. He reminded his Turkish hosts that,
should war break out, Turkey's wobbly economy would be shaken by the
loss of Iraqi business. Trade between the two has climbed back to its
pre-Gulf war level of $1 billion a year.

The dilemma for America is that, in a war, help would be needed from
both Turkey and the Kurds. Turkish bases are necessary for bombing
raids, and the 50,000 fighters under Iraqi-Kurdish control would be
useful in overthrowing Mr Hussein. And if American troops were to be
deployed in Kurdish territory, they would need to come through Turkey.

The Iraqi Kurds are adamant that Turkish forces themselves should not
take part in any operation, if for no other reason than that the
presence of Turks would invite Iranian intervention. They are even
threatening, as a last resort, to cut a deal with Mr Hussein should the
Americans ignore their demands. Taha Yassin Ramadan, Iraq's deputy
president, told a visiting group of Turkish journalists last month that
the Iraqi people would fight alongside “our Kurdish brothers” to keep
Turkish forces out of their country.

Mr Ramadan was responding to a claim, made last month by Turkey's
defence minister, Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, that Kirkuk, Iraq's main
oil-producing region and an erstwhile part of the Ottoman empire, was
historically part of Turkey. Kirkuk, which is now under Baghdad's
control, is intended by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, the two
Kurdish leaders who have been running northern Iraq since the end of the
Gulf war, to be the capital of their proposed federal state. Kirkuk,
declared Mr Barzani, could become “a graveyard for Turkish troops just
as it had been for Ottoman forces”.

Mr Barzani and Mr Talabani are old enemies. But this week they came
together to agree on a new draft constitution for their envisaged
“zone”, and the Kurdish regional parliament is due to reconvene on
October 4th for the first time since 1994. This new-found unity is
deeply disturbing to the Kurds' regional foes—Iraq, Turkey and
Iran—which for decades backed one Kurdish faction against the other to
keep the Kurds weak and divided.

Indeed, not so long ago, the Turks and Mr Barzani, whose Kurdistan
Democratic Party controls Iraq's 700km (450-mile) border with Turkey,
were the best of friends. Aided by Mr Barzani's fighters, Turkish troops
would wade into northern Iraq to hunt down separatist Turkish Kurd
rebels in their mountain hideouts.

In exchange, Turkey allowed its truck drivers to smuggle in lots of
Iraqi diesel on which Mr Barzani's group would levy taxes. Revenue from
this illicit trade (to which America turned a blind eye) helped finance
the construction of hundreds of new schools, roads and hospitals in
KDP-held territory, as well as a fledgling Kurdish army and local police

But once Turkey had captured Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish rebel chief,
in 1999 and he had called off his 15-year insurgency, Mr Barzani ceased
to be useful. Instead, he came to be perceived as a threat, not least
because he began mending fences with Mr Ocalan's group. In a bid to curb
the KDP's influence Turkey banned the flow of Iraqi oil. It has also
been courting Mr Talabani, while arming and training militia drawn from
an ethnic Turkic minority known as the the Turcomens, which is based in
Mr Barzani's territory.

The Iraqi Kurds are misguided, say Turkish officials, in thinking that
their support is as important to America as Turkey's. “If the Kurds are
naive enough to believe that they are in the same league as Turkey, that
only proves that they have not learnt from history,” says one stern

The Iraqi Kurds have not forgotten a rather more recent bit of history.
Memories of how America failed to protect them from Iraq's army after
encouraging them to rebel against Mr Hussein at the end of the Gulf war
is etched in their minds. This, their leaders say, is precisely why they
want watertight guarantees of protection in return for their support.
And these guarantees, says Safeen Dizayee, a prominent KDP official,
“include protection not just against Iraq but against all foreign forces
that would destabilise the region.”

Apparently the Côte d'Ivoire story isn't premium after all, so here's
the link. If it doesn't work, let me know and I'll post the article:

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high
and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our
--Michelangelo Buonarroti

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the
author solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the
author’s employer, nor those of any organization with which the author
may be associated.

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