History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Saturday, February 19, 2005

    The Kurds have their goals, and an Islamist Iraq isn't one of them

    Courtesy of the IraqElectionWire, I bring news about Kurdish plans for the New Iraq:
    Jalal Talabani is a former peshmerga--the name means "those who face death" and refers to the Kurdish guerrillas who spent decades in the mountains of northern Iraq fending off the assembled might of Saddam Hussein's army. Now 72 years old and a candidate for the Iraqi presidency, Talabani looks out his study window at the snow-covered peaks before choosing his words carefully to answer the question on every Kurd's lips--for the first time in the country's history, will Iraq have a Kurdish president?

    "Without reaching agreement, there is some kind of understanding, yes. The Shiites are insisting on having the post of prime minister and they are supporting Kurds to have the post of president," he says, puffing on a large cigar.

    I predicted a Kurdish president earlier, but the key issue in all of this is the role of Islam in Iraq.

    The Shiites need an alliance with the secular Kurdish parties in order to gain control of parliament, hence the possible deal over the country's top two posts. But having won more than a quarter of the votes, Kurds know they are in a strong bargaining position--and Islamic law is not on their agenda.

    "When you say that Islam must be the only source of all laws, that means you're going to found an Islamic state," says Talabani, who, like the overwhelming majority of Kurds, is a Sunni Muslim. "The structure of Iraqi society cannot accept such a kind of government."

    The Kurds will resist strongly any Islamist in the position of Prime Minister, so I expect a pretty moderate Shi'ite to take the post. Given the strength of the Kurds in the National Assembly, they have the power to decide who is PM. I don't think it will be an Islamist.

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