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April 07, 2005

Jubilant Kurds Celebrate Their New President

It's a largely cermonial post, not the real top postion (the Prime Ministership), but the Kurds seem pretty happy about it anyway:

Kahwla Aziz Mohammed can remember receiving many things from her government in far-off Baghdad, including the bullets that Iraqi security forces used to execute her husband.

In 1988, Saddam Hussein's government killed thousands of Kurds with poison gas. In 1991, the year of her husband's execution, soldiers with more bullets made refugees out of an estimated 1.5 million Kurds in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War.

But on Wednesday, Mohammed and Kurds across northern Iraq celebrated something new emanating from the south: a share of power.

"I couldn't believe at first that a Kurdish leader will be a president for the country," Mohammed said, taking her sons and grandsons out into the Kirkuk neighborhoods to press candies and fruit drinks on strangers, traditional means of celebration in this tremendously traditional land.

In Kirkuk, Mosul and lush, green Sulaymaniyah, Kurds poured into the streets by the thousands, pounding drums and roaring cheers at the Iraqi National Assembly's election of a Kurdish faction leader, Jalal Talabani, to the presidency.

Men and women stood shoulder to shoulder, swirling white handkerchiefs and swaying. People paraded down roads, slapping stickers of Kurdish flags on government buildings and passing cars. "Today is the happiest day on Earth," said Haman Najm Abdullah, 55, a trader at a Kirkuk market.

No reports of "flowers and sweets," but it seems they are, in fact, rather happy to be, yes, liberated.

The MSM is probably in a pretty bad funk that that consumation-devoutly-to-be-wished -- the much-predicted Iraqi civil war -- seems a bit less likely today:

Talabani and others in the incoming government will have to work out agreements on distributing revenue from the rich oil fields in the Kurdish region and control of the tens of thousands of militia fighters known as pesh merga.


The pesh merga would be part of the Iraqi armed forces, he said. Once redesigned, the national flag would fly over Kurdistan as well as the rest of the country, he said. And Iraq would keep just the one capital.

"There's no presidency in Kurdistan," he said. "The president remains in Baghdad."

Via Alarming News, who also discusses the self-appointed border patrollers in the southwest, and likens them to the Guardian Angels-- citizens doing a necessary job that the government either cannot or will not do.

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posted by Hoke at 10:40 AM

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