Sunday, July 31, 2005

No More Mortal Gods

My observations here are based on personal conversations and experiences. They are also based on some knowledge of historical events in Iraq and Kurdistan, though I don’t claim to be even an amateur when it comes to the amount of history involved there.

But for what it’s worth, I’d like to share some discussion and observations. Kurdistan is a bit like a police state. It’s safe, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say for other parts of Iraq, (or for parts of Washington DC for that matter), but the security is tight and it’s everywhere in Erbil in particular. For what it’s worth, it’s working, so I’m all for it at the moment, based on the particular climate.

On Kurdish Independence: I was talking to someone in the Kurdish government in one of the Ministries. He was telling me how they feel so close to America, and how they really should never have been made part of Iraq, it was all the Brits’ doing, and how they really should be independent. I made my argument back to him. I said, “Yes, you are close to America, because you have stood up, and your people have shed blood and endured hardships for everything they have, we understand and respect that, it is our history as well.” Then I added, “You are now 10 years ahead of the rest of Iraq, they are going through the hell you were 10 years ago… know better than anyone else how hard that period is, Kurdistan has a lot to offer the rest of Iraq and together you can be a very strong country, besides which you benefit much more from this in the long run than the risk of having a separate neighboring country that may be riddled with violence for much longer without your help.” It was quite obviously probably one of the first times he’d been spoken to this way, but he took it in stride and actually sat and heard me, and thought for a moment before replying. He said “you make fair points.”

However, there are some other issues in the region. One is certainly Barzani. There are pictures of him everywhere on billboards, on buildings, in windows, especially in Erbil, but also in other areas of Kurdistan. We were discussing this, some Iraqi friends and I, over lunch at a restaurant with some Kurdish women. I was so happy to hear them say, “I really don’t like that, and it bothers me.” Now, here I’m paraphrasing, as part of the conversation was in Arabic, part in Kurdish, and part in English, but the gist was “you’d think after Sadaam we wouldn’t have to put up with such nonsense. It doesn’t help to raise one person as the “savior or protector” of the people, and it sure doesn’t encourage faith that one person or ruling class won’t take over control again”.

Let me add here though, that we were having this discussion in a public place, a restaurant, and that when one of my friends, sitting next to me echoed this sentiment with, “yes, no more Mortal Gods”, I was grinning ear to ear, I thought it was the most appropriate statement possible. Could this discussion have taken place 3 years ago? Could I even have been sitting there? Absolutely not. Let me also add that there is a distinct difference in Sulymania. The political party and process there is different, and it’s visible, in the private sector growth, in the streets, it is a city and a province more of the people, and that is clear.

You want to see what Kurdistan can offer to the rest of Iraq? I think this picture puts it in perspective. You go into schools there, you see Muslims, Christians, kids in headscarves, kids in western clothing, kids all daring to show themselves for who they are, and all sharing the same school, learning each others cultures, and thus coming to appreciate them. Having grown up with friends from Lebanon, Israel, India, hard core Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, kids that were poor, rich, and in between in my high school, I can tell you it was in fact that that shaped my life, my desire to see and know and learn more and more that we are all pretty much the same underneath. That it’s great to sit at a table and debate religion, politics, and culture, and at the end of the day, if the person you were debating had a personal issue……you were among the first to offer assistance, an ear, a hug, and mean it. That’s a free society at it’s best. People are inherently good. And society can encourage that, or stifle it.

No more Mortal Gods.


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4:07 PM  
Anonymous About Medicine Blog said...

He was telling me how they feel so close to America, and how they really should never have been made part of Iraq, it was all the Brits’ doing, and how they really should be independent.

12:18 PM  

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