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 End the Thuggery in Iraqi Kurdistan 

 Opinion — Analysis    
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


End the Thuggery in Iraqi Kurdistan  18.4.2011 
By Michael Rubin

April 18, 2011

Today was Day 60 of protests in Iraqi Kurdistan. The protests erupted after Massoud Barzani’s forces fired into a crowd after Kurds holding a demonstration of solidarity with the people of Tunisia and Egypt. The Iraqi Kurdistan president apparently believes that, with international attention focused on Libya and Syria, he has free reign to crack the heads of anyone who dares to question his family’s rule and its embezzlement of Kurdish assets.

Today, his militia sought to disperse the protestors by force. Meanwhile, Facebook reports suggest that Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP militias have attacked protestors in the Kurdish capital of Erbil with knives and clubs, and that opposition parliamentarian Muhammad Kiyani has been seriously injured.

There’s a noxious mix in Iraqi Kurdistan of America’s own making. On one hand, the White House remains largely silent about Kurdish human rights and their struggle for freedom and democracy. On the other, former U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and former Coalition Provisional Authority official Dick Naab now do high-profile business with Barzani,  

Michael Rubin
and CPA-era Colonel Harry Schute now advises the security forces engaged in the bloody crackdown.

Given the behavior of Khalilzad, Naab, and Schute (and Peter Galbraith before them), Kurds would be right to be paranoid that American officials will turn a blind eye toward their oppression in the hope of keeping their own golden parachutes open. So long as the White House remains silent on Barzani’s assaults on journalists and the murders of students,
www.ekurd.netthe Kurds will assume that Obama’s commitment to human rights is cynical, and that senior National Security Council officials—and perhaps Vice President Biden himself—ingratiate themselves to Barzani only so that they might finance their retirement with Kurdish oil.

That’s not good for America’s image, but there is an easy remedy: It’s time for the Obama administration and Congress to demand an end to government-sponsored thuggery in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Michael Rubin
is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His major research area is the Middle East, with special focus on Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Kurdish society. He also writes frequently on transformative diplomacy and governance issues. At AEI, Mr. Rubin chaired the "Dissent and Reform in the Arab World" conference series. He was the lead drafter of the Bipartisan Policy Center's 2008 report on Iran. In addition to his work at AEI, several times each month, Mr. Rubin travels to military bases across the United States and Europe to instruct senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan on issues relating to regional state history and politics, Shiism, the theological basis of extremism, and strategy.

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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