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 Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President, promotes peace

 Source : Daily Press
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Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President, promotes peace 3.11.2005


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 civil war.

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 of Iraq.

"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 mass destruction."

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." 


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