Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The United States Drops the KRG

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

It has been some time since I last wrote to you. There have been some very interesting experiences in the intervening period.

A highlight for me was a trip to Darbandakan and the mountain ridge south and east of that city. We slipped through a narrow cut with towering walls on either side of the tiny stream that must have made the cut eons ago. On the other side we ate our picnic lunch and then hiked into the mountains. It was invigorating to have to stop frequently to catch my breath on the steep climb and scrounge for handholds on the rocky face as I ascended. Sheep trails were at the higher elevations so you readers can be assured that this wasn’t too much of a test! The view near the top was worth it. We had a time limit and I didn’t make the peak.

Another visit was with Walt Goodwater, a National Guard officer from Sacramento, CA. That unit is doing training for Iraqi army units just outside of Suly. That base is a large Peshmerga Base where US contractors are also involved in training Iraqi Police and Iraqi prison guards. We did learn that some security detainees are held at this location until they are returned to home communities for trial.

This Eid just ended commemorates Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Ishmael before God intervened and the Hajj to Mecca is also celebrated. It was a nice preparation for our Christmas celebrations. Christmas in the field with CPT always feels strange because I am not with family, but it also has a depth I miss at home because of the struggle for justice and peace that is playing out in the settings I find myself.

A visit with Anita to Suse Prison finally worked out. We met with the director of this new Iraqi Ministry of Justice facility that houses 1700 prisoners from all parts of Iraq. He is a very smooth PR person or this facility is top of the line. No women or youths under 18 are held here. There are no detainees awaiting trial and the 12 US advisors who helped set up the prison and advise for daily operations play a very important role because of their experience back in the states.

The bombing attacks and ground operations by Turkey into Kurdish areas during this fall have stimulated a recruiting effort in the center of Suly and raised serious concerns by Kurdish political leaders. The fact that the US has provided real time intelligence and opened airspace into Kurdish Iraq has destroyed the strong alliance between the US and the KRG. The flights by Turkish planes continue regularly and the last bombing I have heard reported is December 31 in the Dahuk Governate. The first attacks after December 15 were about 60 – 70 miles south into the KRG and along the Iranian border. CPT is exploring whether our nonviolent presence in those villages might provide protection for villagers and open a space for genuine negotiation between the various actors. Presently those raids are provoking even more conflict over the issues of the PKK resistance in Turkey, potential Kurdish autonomy, whether the government or the military in Turkey is in charge, and who will control the oil in Kirkuk and Mosul. It is clear that the visible issue of Kurdish demands within Turkey by the PKK and the response by Turkey are just a cover for much larger issues.

We are having an impossible time with visas. All four are expired, waiting for the decision on our NGO application that has been pending since early December. We don’t know if this delay is their way to turn down our application or if, as Kurdish friends say, this is the way it is for everyone. If we are rejected I hope we are informed of the reasons. It is easy to suspect who might be putting pressure on those who make the decision. Wednesday we did obtain a signature from the governor for our NGO application and still need clearance from security.

Visits to regional leaders and individuals displaced by the Turkish bombings yesterday confirmed the importance of our nonviolent presence in those border villages and the deeper complication of the standstill on our NGO application and security clearance! Kurdistan is feeling abandoned.

Blessings of peace in the new year to each of you!



Blogger fortwaynepeace said...

Stay safe Cliff!
I would be curious to know whether or not your talks with US military

3:04 PM  
Blogger fortwaynepeace said...

I would be curious to know whether your talks with US military personnel are candid enough to reveal any feelings our soldiers have about being their, the Iraqi people, and the war in general. My two grandsons will be going there this year (again) One in April, the other in October.


3:06 PM  
Blogger Wes said...

There's a marvelous film by an Iranian Kurdish filmmaker, Bahman Ghobadi, called "Marooned in Iraq," which sets its scene along the Iran-Iraq northeastern border.
Story's about three musicians - a Kurdish father and two sons - who set out from Iran to find father's ex-wife in Iraq Kurdish territory in post Gulf War 1 when Saddaam was gassing and bombing this area.
Severe terrain and climate, refugee plights, field orphanages, mass graves and other harsh consequences are filmed but leavened by an irrepressible sense of humor and persistence.
It would be intriguing to understand the contrast between what Ghobadi depicts and what's apparent now. "Marooned in Iraq" was filmed in 2002.

8:58 AM  

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