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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2006, Vol, 6 No. 1 .

The Kurds in Iraq. The Past, Present and Future
Kerim Yildiz

London: Pluto Press, 2004
248pp PB £14.99 ISBN 0-7453-2228-x

Even though Iraq and Ba?ath regimes have been covered by mass-media since 9/11, the role played by Iraqi Kurdistan before, during and after the outbreak of the Second Gulf War could barely enter the agenda and exit the shadow minority groups usually find themselves in. Connecting past to present, history to current issues, the author provides a brief exploration of Kurds Odissea over the last century, stressing what standing at the crossroads of powerful countries implies.

Not enjoying any kind of autonomy nor self-determination, Kurds continuously have been subjected to long-term practices of violence and oppression, due to their inhabiting a key political and economic region. Had an autonomous Kurdish state been envisaged already in 1920 (Treaty of Sèvres), neither the end of the colonial era nor the wave of optimism following the collapse of Communism could prevent Kurds from being denied their rights.

Outlining main events of Iraqi Kurdistan, from the emergence of leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani, to the Ba?ath party seizing power in Iraq (1963); from the Iran-Iraq war (1983-1988) fought under the eye of the international community, split in balanced coalitions according to the logic of the Cold War, to the appalling Anfal Campaigns under Saddam Hussein?s regime, Kurds current situation emerge as deeply rooted in the background of a historically troubled area.

In Kerim?s opinion, the recent defeat of Ba?athist rule and the early management of the aftermath by the US/UK led coalition let some core issues concerning Iraqi Kurdistan remained unresolved, despite some significant goals Kurds have achieved in securing their rights and proceeding on their own way towards democracy. Victims of human rights abuses committed in the late 80?s and internally displaced people make strong claims for justice and improvement in life conditions. Autonomy, even if accepted as a political option, has not been implemented. Reconstruction and managing oil properties are only some of the great economic challenges that need to be faced urgently.

The author ? the Executive Director of Kurdish Human Rights Project ? is able to clearly detect and briefly explore current key issues dealing with the Kurd minority in Iraq, firstly raising unanswered questions on the near future of Iraq and secondly highlighting international policies possible to enhance democracy and social development in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Impartial description of historical events and a scholarly analysis guarantee The Kurds in Iraq a scientific approach which is useful both to project officers starting to develop programmes in the region and to students interested in human rights, ethnic minorities, peace-management and related issues.

Alessia Montanari, INCORE intern, University of Ulster

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