Kurds Often Used as Pawns in Power Struggles
DANIEL SCHORR: Let's look back at American-Kurdish relations.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
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.