Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deal with the Devil Calls for Betrayal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deal with the Devil Calls for Betrayal

Article excerpt

The son is not the father." The agonized Kurd who called to tell me this knew of my longtime admiration for the late Mullah Mustafa Barzani. That shrewd mountain warrior embodied the dream of the Kurdish people - 30 million, spread over five nations that repress them - for freedom in Kurdistan, their ancestral homeland.

Mullah Mustafa was not above dealing with any secret source of help - Russian, Arab, Israeli, Turkish, Persian - to advance the cause of autonomy for his people. But he trusted only one - the Americans - who let him down at the behest of the shah.

This head of the Barzani clan did not live to see the murder of three of his sons by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, nor the use of poison gas to kill thousands of Kurds at Halabja. He was spared the sight that shocked the world of the exodus of freezing refugees, when Saddam punished the rebellious Kurds after his defeat in the Persian Gulf War. His son Massoud Barzani, now 50, was given the chance by the United States to create an autonomous enclave in northern Iraq. But Massoud and his political rival, Jalal Talabani, fell to bickering and power-grabbing. They say, "The Kurds have no friends"; that now includes each other. Four months ago, Massoud Barzani sent his closest confidant to Washington to wheedle a few million dollars out of the United States, ostensibly to pay "monitors" to keep the Kurdish factions from each other's throats. Nobody paid attention. When the Barzani delegation, including a young son, dropped by, I put this advice to them in a column: "The Talabani faction should cut ties to Iran and the Barzani faction to Saddam. Give the visiting U.S. envoy a bare-bones budget for overt aid and present a united front against Baghdad." President Bill Clinton was urged to openly subsidize these non-terrorist Kurds with "a few million." But when the Clintons would not provide their envoy with loose change for local lubrication, Barzani sulked. After a force of Iranians slipped into Iraq for two nights in late July to help bolster the Talabani faction, leaving behind arms, Barzani complained in a fax to a staffer at the National Security Council, Steven Grummon; no response. …

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