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Kurdish leaders enraged by 'undemocratic' American plan to occupy Iraq

The US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials. The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.

The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers. It undercuts the argument by George Bush and Tony Blair that war is justified by the evil nature of the regime in Baghdad. [...] Mr Abdul-Rahman said the US had reneged on earlier promises to promote democratic change in Iraq. "It is very disappointing," he said. "In every Iraqi ministry they are just going to remove one or two officials and replace them with American military officers."

Kurdish officials strongly believe the new US policy is the result of pressure from regional powers, notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The US appears to be quietly abandoning earlier declarations that it would make Iraq a model democracy in the Middle East. In Iraq, free elections would lead to revolutionary change because although the Shia Muslims and Kurds constitute three-quarters of the population, they are excluded from power in Baghdad by the Sunni Muslim establishment. [...]

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15 Responses:

  1. greyhame says:

    Back in September, Jay Bookman made a fairly convincing argument that the administration doesn't have much interest in establishing an independent democracy in Iraq. Retaining the totalitarian governmental structure but replacing key people with US military officers sounds an awful lot like annexation, to me.

  2. ralesk says:

       I wouldn't be muchly surprised if it turned out the USA had been planning to give North-Iraq over to Turkey's supervision --- I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turned out Turkey had been lobbying to get all "Kurdistan" and have them shut up already.

       Excuse my brainstorming.

    • tangaroa says:

      I wouldn't be muchly surprised if it turned out the USA had been planning to give North-Iraq over to Turkey's supervision

      Brainstorming? That came out in the news two weeks ago...

      • ralesk says:

           Wow, I could be a good Cheney I guess! :P

           Anyhow, I hate NYTimes and their need of registration to see their archives...  What's their point?

      • flipzagging says:

        I missed this bit of news! This is revolting! Unbelievable! Liberate the Kurds from Iraq in order to turn them over to Turkey? Fatal dose of irony here.

        If this stands, expect the next terrorist attack to be from (confused+angry) Kurds.

        If/when the invasion starts, I hope indeed that these massive protest movements can turn around and demand that the U.S. make good on their promises.

  3. rpkrajewski says:

    Well, if this is true, a lot of fence-sitters are going to stop supporting regime change.

    Of course, Saddam could disarm or go into exile and the result would be the same as this plan, right ?

    • avva says:

      Ugh. That's another of those offensively stupid "it's all about oooiiilll" missives, isn't it?

      Retaining the current government in Iraq while lacing it with American military officers sounds wildly improbable. The ruling Baath party is rabidly anti-American (as in, the Americans are Satan) through and through -- it's not just Saddam. Can you imagine winning WWII and killing Hitler, but leaving Goebbels and Goering in charge, supervised by a few American military officers?

      It seems plausible that the Kurdish leaders are making waves in order to try and force the US government to commit publicly to establishing democracy post-Saddam.

      • cirollo says:

        Speaking of Hermann Goering (commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, etc), this quote of his is interesting:

        "Naturally the common people don't want war. Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.

        Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the biddings of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

        Hooray for the USA-PATRIOT act!

        • avva says:

          Yeah, so what of it? The recipe is basically true and has indeed been tried a lot of times with success. The actual claim about the leaders always being able to drag the masses along is provably false (observe the countless changes in leadership as a result of elections, everywhere around you), but often true in a local kind of way, on a small timescale.

          Unfortunately, sometimes you don't get to "tell them they are being attacked"; rather than attack hits them in their faces. So the comparison with the Patriot Act is only partly relevant.

      • 33mhz says:

        Uh, the postwar government (and centers of industry) in Germany had no shortage of thinly rehabilitated nazis. The big ones were removed, but movies like "The Murderers Are Among Us" are all about that kind of thing. (In the movie, an ex-surgeon discovers his old commander, who ordered the execution of a mixed group of Jewish refugees on Christmas eve, is now a successful industrialist. The surgeon, now a raging alcoholic, fights with his conscience and desires to off his ex commander.)

        • avva says:

          Yeah, but you are not suggesting, are you, that the Nazi administrative framework was left as it had been, with only some key people being replaced by Allied officers?

          Sure, lots of individual Nazis found their way back to government work after rehabilitation (but that was one of the reasons for rehabilitation), but that's a very different thing from leaving the ideology, the framework, the whole apparatus intact and only replacing some key people. That would simply not have worked, very obviously; nor could it work in Iraq.

          • 33mhz says:

            You're right-- the postwar reorganization of the government was a seismic change, but the key word was thinly rehabilitated. Many, even most of the high-ups got what was coming to them, but there did exist some former Nazis that were reintegrated into government without a whole lot of "rehabilitation". I don't have my book on post-war cinema anymore, but I recall some good examples being discussed there.

            So, yeah. As far as Iraq goes, the idea of keeping the basic structure intact but introducing American leadership probably is unfeasable, but feasability hasn't really been a core value of Bush's foreign policy to date, anyway.

  4. susano_otter says:

    Um. This is SOP. Somebody has to hold things together while the infrastructure gets restored and democratic elections are set up. This has traditionally been the role (duty?) of the conquering army. Even the most benevolent conqueror on earth would play it exactly the same way.

  5. earle says:

    Won't get fooled again.