Salon: At Least The Kurds Like Us?

They do. But…

Hady told me that Kurds must return to Kirkuk and the “10,000 dinar” Arabs must leave. (Other Arabs, families who have lived in Kirkuk for generations, do not face the resentment that the “10,000 dinar” Arabs do.) The Kurdish government has been handing out leaflets and using television campaigns, telling families to return. And Hady confirmed that in some cases, families have been paid $3,500 to go back to Kirkuk. At least a portion of the money to help families came from a U.N. fund, established before the war to build housing for refugees in Erbil. But the project fell apart, and with no sign of the United Nations’ return, the government began using the money as aid and incentive for refugees to go back. Within his own government, Hady said, he directs all employees of the Erbil government who are originally from Kirkuk to move to that city, where they will be guaranteed an equivalent job and salary in the government there.

This hasty population redistribution program is as much about the future of Kirkuk as it is a question of reclaiming the past. Kurdish officials, including the governor, told me they intend to press for a referendum in which residents of Kirkuk will decide whether the city becomes reabsorbed into the Kurdish region. If the current Iraqi government refuses to allow Kirkuk’s future to be decided by vote, Hady said, the Kurds will opt for deciding its future by force. Kurds may make up only 20 percent of Iraq’s population, but their armed forces, or peshmerga, are nearly 100,000 strong – bigger than all other Iraqi militias and armed forces combined. In short, the Kirkuk question could destroy the cobbled-together new government of Iraq.

There’s also an interview with Alan Moore (brief excerpt and link in the comic and books forum) and a look at Kerry’s role in uncovering Iran-Contra in today’s update.

They do. But…

Though Iraqi Christians are heading to Jordan and Lebanon as well, Mr. Khybari said, Syria is the preferred destination, for its low cost of living, cultural similarities with Iraq and policy of freely issuing visas to citizens of other Arab countries. “For people of a very depleted economic status, Syria is an easier choice,” he said.

Yet most of Syria’s newest Iraqi Christian refugees say the decision to leave their homeland was anything but easy. They tell of Christian shopkeepers killed by Islamist gangs for daring to sell alcohol, of family businesses sold to ransom stolen children. They say life in Syria is hard for them, as new refugees are often barred from jobs and schools. They left Iraq, they say, only because they were too terrorized to stay.

Solaka Enweya, 56, an Assyrian Christian who arrived in Syria with his three sons on June 27, explained that attacks on Christians had become common since Saddam Hussein’s government was toppled, in part because of the perception that Iraqi Christians are aiding the Americans. But like other refugees here, he said attacks on Iraqi Christians increased this spring.

“When we heard that the Americans were going to liberate Iraq, we were so happy,” Mr. Enweya said. “Yet our suffering has only increased.”

The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for a national uprising against American and coalition forces today as a two-month truce between Mr. Sadr and the United States military appeared to collapse.

In Baghdad and Basra, the largest city in southern Iraq, insurgents loyal to Mr. Sadr prepared for clashes with American and British troops.

But the heavy fighting appeared to be mainly in and near Najaf, a Shiite holy city and Sadr stronghold 100 miles south of Baghdad. An American Marine helicopter was shot down in Najaf this morning, although the crew was reported rescued.

Later, insurgents attacked an American convoy with a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire near Najaf, killing one soldier and wounding five, all from the 13th Corps Support Command, the United States military said.

Seven insurgents were killed and 22 were wounded, the military added.

Great, and Sadr was being nice for a while.

Those psycho assholes just aren’t very reliable…