Kurds Often Used as Pawns in Power Struggles

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/6861069/6861070" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that the Kurds of Iraq have a long history of being used as pawns in regional power struggles. Now, they are finding themselves in the middle of a contest between the United States and Iran for dominance in the Middle East.

DANIEL SCHORR: Let's look back at American-Kurdish relations.


NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: In 1973, President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger had the CIA instigate an uprising of the Kurds in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein. The United States walked away from the rebellion when Saddam Hussein and the shah of Iran settled their differences, leaving the Kurds to be decimated by a vengeful Saddam Hussein.

In the Gulf War over the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait in 1990, the senior President Bush appealed to the Kurds, as well as the Shiites in the south, to rise up in rebellion against Saddam Hussein.

Victorious in that war, the American military permitted Saddam Hussein to retain his helicopter gunships which he used to mow down Kurds, along with Shiites, by the hundreds. And finally, American public opinion forced the administration to establish northern and southern no-fly zones to protect the two populations.

Kurdish loyalty to America has cost them plenty, and so it is with a certain chutzpah that the Bush administration now presumes to tell the presumably autonomous Kurds what relations they may entertain with other countries of the region, including America's enemy number one, Iran.

Now as Ivan Watson reports, under orders from President Bush, the American military has conducted raids on Iranians, several of whom claim to have been establishing an Iranian consulate in Kurdistan. The American military says they had ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The raids have taken on the proportions of an offensive. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that increasing activity among these networks had been noted, including transfer of sophisticated weapons presumably intended for the larger war.

On NBC yesterday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the United States was resisting an Iranian effort to establish its hegemony throughout the region. The Kurds appear to be finding themselves in an arena of contests between the U.S. and Iran for dominance in the Middle East.

This is Daniel Schorr.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.