Today was the Uljin Elementary Flower Festival, and I snapped a few pictures.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
It may have to do with the surge, or it may have to do with the Iraqi people turning against the constant violence that has been common the last few years, but many honest outlets have been reporting a change in the country.
Courtesy of the New York Post:
“It's becoming almost bizarre how specific the informants are becoming. Informants have called up saying they are with bad guys right now and giving their location. Our guys show up and arrest everyone. Hours later, the U.S. soldiers let the informants go. JAM and AQI are getting slammed in many areas because local people are sick of the violence and local people trust Americans to help them end it.
Where all this can end was suggested to me on Wednesday, when I was at a large Sunni-Shia reconciliation meeting where more than 80 local leaders attended and signed an agreement.
Whether it can be sustained here, or spread to other areas, is in question. But the resolve of Iraqi people to end the scourge of sectarian violence that has stalled and scarred their country is not.”
Things could change quickly however, and not for the better. Look no further than the one stable portion of the country: Kurdish territory.
Turkey has been attacked by Kurdish terrorists in the Kurdistan Worker’s Party for years. Christopher Hitchens describes them as:
“…a Stalinist cult organization, roughly akin to a Middle Eastern Shining Path group. (Its story, and the story of its bizarre leader Abdullah Öcalan, are well told in Aliza Marcus' new book Blood And Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence.) The attempt of this thuggish faction to exploit the new zone of freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan is highly irresponsible and plays directly into the hands of those forces in the Turkish military who want to resurrect Kemalist chauvinism as a weapon against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, which it sees as soft on Kurdish demands."
Turkey refused to allow the United States access to its military bases in the invasion of Iraq, unless they could be involved in the northern offensive. Hitchens goes on:
“The Bush administration quite rightly refused this bargain. The damage done by Turkey's subsequent fit of pique was enormous—nobody ever mentions it, but if the coalition had come at Baghdad from two directions, a number of Sunni areas would have got the point (of irreversible regime change) a lot sooner than they did. The rogue PKK presence was not then a hot issue; Turkey simply wished to pre-empt the emergence of any form of Iraqi Kurdish self-government that could be an incitement or encouragement to its own huge Kurdish minority.”
I won’t claim to know the best response to this growing problem, what is clear however is Turkey’s need to stop attacks coming from the PKK into its country and against its citizens. The United States and Kurdish authorities must accept that they would expect no less if they were at the receiving end of such a terrorist strike. Thankfully Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish region in Iraq is pushing for a solution that does not necessitate a Turkish military invasion. He said if the PKK did not give up violence, it would "confront not only Turkey but the whole Kurdish nation."
One can only hope an invasion and destabilization of the major functioning portion of Iraq is not inevitable.
Monday, October 29, 2007
On an early withdrawal of support for the democratic government of Iraq:
“[T]he sort of figures that were being discussed amongst senior American officials here, as a potential, should there be an early withdrawal and a progress to an all-out civil war, they’re talking about the possibility of as many as a million Iraqis dying.”
New York Times Correspondent
“A rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops would hurt America's image and hand al Qaeda and other terror groups a propaganda victory that the United States is only a “paper tiger.”
Author: Holy War Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know
“Iraq's neighbors would be drawn into the all-out civil war likely if U.S. forces left too quickly. Iran could move in to further strengthen its influence in southern Iraq; Turkey likely would move against the Kurds in the north; and Saudi Arabia would be inclined to take action to protect Sunnis in western Iraq.”
Major General (retired) Don Sheppard
United States Air Force