December 6, 2009 |
Across a bleak desert landscape dotted with blazing oil fires on the northern edge of this ancient city, new houses are rising from the sands -- thousands of them in neat rows, mostly unfinished save for their gray cinder-block shells. A startling sight in a country still waiting for any significant reconstruction to occur, it contains clues to the biggest of the unresolved conflicts in Iraq that could yet plunge the country into chaos as U.S. forces withdraw. The homes are being built by Kurds who have poured into the northern province of Kirkuk to reassert, they say, their claim to land from which they were expelled by Saddam Hussein in an effort to create an Arab majority.
December 5, 2009 |
Two decades after Saddam Hussein's regime terrorized the Kurdish city of Halabja with chemical weapons and tore his family apart, a 21-year-old man this week was reunited with his mother. Ali Asmin's long journey ended Thursday night when a judge revealed the results of DNA testing to the young man and six desperate families that had been hoping to find a son lost in the March 1988 attack that claimed as many as 5,000 lives. "I wanted to return to . . . my birthplace," Asmin said Friday.
November 24, 2009 |
Hopes for a January election in Iraq faded Monday after Shiite Muslim and Kurdish legislators teamed up to vote for a new version of an election law that in effect takes seats away from Sunni Arabs and is almost certain to draw another veto from the country's Sunni vice president. Parliament then adjourned for a holiday until Dec. 8, leaving in limbo the fate of the law that is needed if the crucial election is to take place by the end of January, as mandated by Iraq's Constitution.
October 31, 2009 |
On the podium of a sweltering hotel ballroom recently, Sunni tribal leader Ahmed abu Risha stood alongside Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, a Shiite. Next to Bolani was a prominent Sunni religious leader, who stood beside a well-known Shiite human rights campaigner. So it went, as Sunni and Shiite Muslims lined up together to announce the birth of a new political movement, the Iraqi Unity Alliance, which will run in elections planned for January on a platform of, yes, unity. Periodically, a tribesman in the audience stood up and shouted slogans in support of the alliance's theme.
October 20, 2009 |
Unarmed Kurdish rebels in combat dress marched into Turkey from northern Iraq on Monday in a show of support for peace with the Turkish government. The eight rebels, along with 26 other Kurds, were immediately detained by Turkish paramilitary police after crossing the border gate at Habur. They were moved to a military battalion's headquarters for questioning by prosecutors, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported. Earlier, Kurds in northern Iraq celebrated with music and drums as the group left from a refugee camp, the news agency reported.
September 11, 2009 |
A suicide truck bomber attacked a Kurdish village early today, killing at least 20 people and wounding 27 others in the latest attempt by militants to exploit northern Iraq's Arab-Kurdish factions. The truck detonated around midnight in the village of Wardek, home to Shiite Kurds, about 15 miles east of Mosul, according to a police officer. The explosion tore down homes and buried people in rubble, including women and children, the police officer said. A second assailant was shot by Kurdish forces in the area before he could detonate his own truck bomb, the police officer added.
August 18, 2009 |
In an effort to defuse mounting Arab-Kurdish tensions, the U.S. military is proposing to deploy troops for the first time in a strip of disputed territory in northern Iraq, the top American general in Iraq said today. Gen. Ray Odierno said the proposal would see U.S. troops deployed alongside Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga militiamen on the Arab-Kurdish fault line in northern Nineveh province, which has been the scene of several recent high-profile bombings. Their goal, he said, would be to build trust between Iraqi security forces representing the Baghdad government and Kurdish militia answerable to the Kurdish regional government at a time when a spike in bombings attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq has sent tensions between the two administrations soaring.
August 11, 2009 |
A string of bombings in northern Iraq and Baghdad that have killed at least 112 people in the last several days, including 60 on Monday, has raised fears that insurgent groups are embarking on a sustained attempt to kindle ethnic and sectarian warfare. The toll since Friday represents the worst upsurge of violence since U.S. troops handed over security in urban areas to Iraqi security forces on June 30. The attacks serve as a reminder that although the U.S. military says it is on track to complete the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next August, the potential for fresh conflict between Arabs and Kurds in the north, and Sunnis and Shiites elsewhere, remains very real.
August 3, 2009 |
One of Saddam Hussein's best-known lieutenants was convicted of helping plan the forced displacement of Kurds from northeastern Iraq and was sentenced to seven years. It was the second conviction against Tarik Aziz, the silver-haired former foreign minister and deputy prime minister who argued his boss' case in the halls of the United Nations and other international forums. Dozens of villages were destroyed and thousands of people displaced as part of Hussein's campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s.
July 24, 2009 |
The cry went up loud and clear from the tens of thousands of people crammed together at the campaign rally. "Change! Change!" the crowd chanted. "With our hearts we vote for change!" Indeed, change has in many ways already come to Iraq's normally placid semiautonomous region of Kurdistan, the latest scene of a grass-roots movement demanding new leadership and political reforms.