The Iraqi version of the Northern Alliance
Kurds offer their help to Washington
A lot is known about the adversaries of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Iraqi Kurds in the north and Shiates in south Iraq have their own armed groups. The question is to what extent they will be efficient in a possible war against the Baghdad regime. Saddam Hussein’s enemies cannot play the role of the major force, taking into consideration the events of the past years. However, this is exactly what the leaders of these groups are aspiring to do.
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Jalal Talabani, said in a recent interview to CNN that he was willing to render the Kurd-ruled territory of North Iraq to the Americans. As Talabani stated, Iraqi Kurdistan would give a hearty welcome to the US army: “We have over 100 thousand resistance fighters, and Syria has tens of thousands. This force can liberate Iraq with the cooperation and coordination with American troops.” This is the Kurdish variant of the “Northern Alliance.”
Spokesmen for the American administration say that the White House is thinking over Talabani’s offer. Washington has many reasons to doubt. The Kurds are ready to unite with anyone in order to overthrow Hussein. However, there is another problem. Kurdish leaders are too alienated to be considered as a serious support for any military operation against the Baghdad regime.
George Bush’s administration has been making a lot of efforts lately to unite the Iraqi opposition. Jalal Talabani and another Kurdish leader, Masud Barzani (the head of the Democratic party of Kurdistan), agreed to unite. But how long will this agreement last? Both Talabani and Barzani seek the role of the sole leader of the Kurdish rebels. The opportunity to be in charge of the distribution of the American help is also in the picture. If they suspect each other of any attempts to seize power (they definitely will), then their unification will quickly turn intto friction. So, where is Washington's support? It is clear now that the American administration is not willing to act as an arbitrator in the long-standing struggle for the power between the leaders of the Iraqi Kurds.
If the USA accepts Talabani’s offer, then, most likely, it will be necessary to negotiate with Barzani as well. There is one simple reason why: Talabani’s groups control about one-third of Iraqi Kurdistan, whereas Barzani controls two-thirds of the territory.
The Americans should also bear in mind that there are other oppositionists besides the leaders of Iraqi Kurds. These people also want to take Saddam Hussein’s place. There is Ahmed Chalabi, for example, one of the leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, and there is former chief of the Iraqi army headquarters Nizar Al-Khazraji. They control a military force, but these two men are both Arabs, and this detail will most likely play the decisive role in America's selection of Saddam’s “successor.”
For the time being, there is the impression that Washington does not treat the so-called Iraqi opposition seriously. Their activity is basically trying to receive financial aid from their American patrons.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov