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Iraq: All Quiet in the Zagros Mountains

2 minute read

It is becoming a habit in Iraq that as soon as a new revolutionary regime has knocked off its predecessor, it then makes peace overtures to the rebellious Kurdish tribesmen holed up in the Zag ros Mountains. Latest to do so is President Abdul Salam Aref, who seized power last November. With a flourish of drums and trumpets, Radio Baghdad last week proclaimed an end to the three years of off-again, on-again war with Kurdish Leader Mustafa Barzani and his 35,000 pyejmargas, guerrilla fighters.

Peace had been hammered out in an eleven-day conference at Barzani’s mountain headquarters at Rania. Statements by Barzani and Aref sealed the pact. To safeguard national unity, stop bloodshed and end a fratricidal fight, said Barzani, “we have decided to take the initiative in ordering a cease-fire.” Declared Aref: “In the name of Allah the all-merciful, we have decreed the following in our desire to restore normal life and end the bloodletting.” There followed a nine-point communique covering everything from “recognition of the national rights of our Kurdish brethren” to general amnesty and the release of prisoners.

Whether the Iraqi peace would last, or the Kurdish rebellion soon be resumed, seems to depend on how the various terms of the agreement are interpreted by each side. Aref’s acceptance of the “national rights” of the Kurds may or may not turn out to be the equivalent of the “Kurdish autonomy” for which Barzani and his pyejmargas have fought so long and so tenaciously.

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