Qubad Talabani, Washington spokesman for the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
The son of Iraq's president
says a U.S. withdrawal could unleash a potential
WILLIAMSBURG - Qubad Talabani, son of current
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, imagines a
federalist and decentralized Iraq, where each region
can develop varying levels of autonomy.
Echoing President George W. Bush's administration,
Talabani described achievements he feels are lost in
the negative coverage of the Iraq war in a speech to
students at the College of William and Mary on
Wednesday. His visit was sponsored by the Foundation
for the Defense of Democracies, an anti-terrorism
non-profit that strongly supported the U.S. invasion
"It's not all doom and gloom," Talabani said. "In 14
out of 18 of Iraq's provinces, it is calm and
stable. There you can easily walk down the street to
the nearest restaurant."
As a Kurd, the largest ethnicity in the world
without their own country, Talabani dreams of
independence. But given reality, he favors a
federation grounded with a strong Kurdistan.
"Ultimately, we have to be pragmatic," Talabani
said. "We could declare independence tomorrow, but
it could result in a war with four countries."
The oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, however,
presents a great challenge.
Kurds historically lived in this diverse city, but
in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein drove Kurds and Turkmen
out of Kirkuk. A right to return to Kirkuk could
reverse these crimes of ethnic cleansing, according
to Talabani, whether to live in the city or simply
through financial reparations.
Talabani praised the efforts to build democracy in
Iraq, including the June 2004 and January 2005
elections, the over 9 million people who just voted
on the drafted constitution and the planned Dec. 15
elections to establish a four-year government.
Though weapons of mass destruction never surfaced,
Talabani stressed, "Saddam himself was a weapon of
A federalist Iraq will struggle to engage the
disenfranchised Sunnis, Talabani admitted, who were
in power for around 80 years.
"They're reeling," Talabani said. "Their world has
turned upside down. We have to convince the average
citizen in Sunni-dominated areas to assist the
government in rooting out corruption."
Despite the growing U.S. disillusionment with the
Iraq war, Talabani asked the students for patience
and optimism. An early withdrawal of U.S. troops
would only destroy emerging institutions, unraveling
into a potential civil war, he said.
"Anyone in the world should be liberated if they are
being oppressed," Talabani said. "But the U.S.
cannot be the only policemen in the world."