Local Kurds are optimistic about power transfer
The turnover of sovereignty to Iraq's new interim government is a baby step, but it's still an important one, said Hussein Weled. "I think in general for all the Iraqi people, it's a great day," said Weled, a Kurdish freedom fighter who left Iraq...
The turnover of sovereignty to Iraq's new interim government is a baby step, but it's still an important one, said Hussein Weled.
"I think in general for all the Iraqi people, it's a great day," said Weled, a Kurdish freedom fighter who left Iraq in 1976 and settled in West Fargo.
But Iraq isn't ready to break away from the support given by the United States and other coalition troops, he said.
"Like a baby, we are learning to walk," Weled said.
Although Weled said he is pleased with the transfer of power, he also said the local Kurdish community, which numbers around 500, did not yet have plans to celebrate the return of sovereignty.
Local Kurds, part of a minority group long persecuted by Saddam Hussein, held community celebrations after the Iraqi government fell and after its former dictator was captured.
The lack of celebrations Monday was partially because Kurds are still disappointed with the U.N. Security Council, Weled said.
Earlier this month, the council endorsed a resolution about Iraq's sovereignty that made no mention of Kurdish self-rule.
A top cleric from the country's Shiite majority had said the resolution would not be acceptable if the reference Kurds wanted was included.
"I don't know why they did that," Weled said. "America knows and all the world knows that we are the best friend and ally to America."
Iraq's estimated 4 million Kurds have had virtual autonomy since 1991, under the protection of a "no-fly zone" over their three northern provinces.
Some Kurds fear their right to self-rule will be lost after elections are held and a new constitution is drawn up next year.
Still, in the northern city of Kirkuk, several thousand people marched through the streets, carrying Kurdish flags and changing "Long Live Kurdistan," in response to the transfer of power, according to the English online version of Al-Jazeera, an Arab news station.
That was in marked contrast to the reaction elsewhere in Iraq. In Baghdad, residents' happiness about the transfer of power was muted by fears about the future, according to the Associated Press.
Like Weled, fellow Kurdish immigrant Nazdar Barwari thinks the change is a good step for Iraq. She hopes to soon see peace for Iraq.
"We want the Kurdish people to have their rights, too, like any other people," said Barwari, who lives in Fargo.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556