The bloody suicide attacks against the major US-backed Kurdish parties are likely to suppress Kurdish factionalism -- at least in the short term -- and stiffen the Kurds' resolve for a strong degree of self-rule within a federal Iraq. \nThat is unlikely to go down well among the country's majority Arab community nor among the Turkomen, an ethnic group related to the Turks who like the Arabs fear Kurdish domination. \nAt stake is the unity of Iraq and control over the country's vast oil wealth, much of it centered around the northern city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen as their own. \nAt least 56 people were killed and more than 200 injured Sunday when suicide bombers wearing explosives separately attacked the offices of both the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the northern city of Irbil. \nIn statements issued after the attacks, top leaders of both parties expressed a will to work together to overcome the common terrorist enemy and to campaign even harder for a federal Iraqi state -- despite strong opposition to federalism among the Arab population. \n"These terrorist acts are against the unity of our administrations that we have agreed on," KDP leader Massoud Barzani wrote to the PUK boss, Jalal Talabani. "The two of us, along with other political democratic parties, must work together to end these terrorist acts." \nIn his reply, Talabani promised to "work more seriously toward uniting our [Kurdish autonomous] government" and "work together in order to live in a democratic, federal Iraq." \nThose pledges of cooperation came from leaders who have been bitter rivals for years, despite past agreements to work together in the interest of the Kurdish people. \nThe Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War but were overwhelmed by a government offensive. \nInternational intervention stopped the onslaught and enabled the Kurds to establish a self-ruling region in northern Iraq protected by the US, in which both the KDP and PUK shared power. \nHowever, a power struggle between the two parties erupted into armed hostility in 1994, when the Patriotic Union seized Irbil from the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Turkey backed the KDP and Iran supported the PUK. \nTwo years later, Saddam's forces entered the Kurdish area and ousted the Patriotic Union from Irbil. With US diplomatic help, the two parties divided the Kurdish region and established parallel administrations. \nSunday's attacks could bolster Kurdish arguments that they need to maintain their own militia, known as the peshmerga, for security, a demand that has become a delicate issue in discussions with the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. \nKurdish writer Nazar Khailany believes the attacks will put pressure on Talabani and Barzani to set aside those past differences "and serve the principle cause of the Kurdish people." \n"I hope this sad tragedy will lead to the unity of the parties," Khailany said. \nHowever, that very unity may create more ethnic tensions in this factious country at a time when the US is attempting to find a formula to transfer power which will be accepted by all major communities. \nUS officials clearly favor federalism, which would enable the major groups -- Shiite and Sunni Arabs as well as Kurds -- to enjoy a degree of self-rule within a unified nation state without fearing suppression by the others. \nHowever, federalism is a concept which is foreign to many Iraqis reared under centralized, one-party rule. For many of them, especially the Sunni Arabs, federalism is a codeword for national disintegration. \nThose fears are especially high in northern areas such as Mosul and Kirkuk, which remained under Saddam's control but which many Kurds feel should be theirs. \nSome experts believe the Sunday attacks may have been aimed in part at driving a wedge between the Kurds and the other ethnic groups at a time when the US is urging all parties to cooperate. \n"I think that they are trying to drive a wedge between the north and the center," said Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism expert for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "They will want the Kurds to circle the wagons and make them more suspicious of Arabs. This will certainly add to the fractured landscape of Iraq."
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year