Yeah, What Was That All About?
Someone has posted old photographs on a discussion board (via nahrain.com) showing Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (...younger and thinner) and former Saddam henchmen Ali Hassan Majid (up for a hanging any time soon after being convicted of waging genocide against the Kurds) and Izzet al-Douri (currently leading one of the insurgency's Ba'athist wings) posing for photo-ops sometime in the early 1980s.
What was Jalal Talabani--who would later have the distinction of being the only "traitor" exempted by one of Saddam's blanket pardons--doing at the time? Why was he playing host to the likes of "Chemical" Ali and Izzet the "Taxi"?
President Talabani is a very charming and gregarious man, and he's done a very fine job as Iraq's president, but one must pause and examine all those skeletons in his closet. The Western press and Washington circles are very fond of him, and there's a general tendency to romanticize the Kurds and give them a free pass; this is helped by all the frenzied lobbying being done on their behalf and on their tab...sometimes in the form of Manila envelopes packing $20,000 in cash!
Sure, he's not the only Iraqi politician with a dark past, but there are some instances that I'd like him to answer for. For example, the raid of the village of Pisht-Aashan in May 1983, where tens of civilian cadres from the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) were massacred by Talabani's PUK, ostensibly on Saddam's orders.
What's worse is that the current leadership of the ICP remains silent about Pisht-Aashan and has never demanded an official apology.
It's interesting that Pisht-Aashan is located on one of the slopes leading up to the Kandil Mountain range, where the Turkish Army intends to foray nowadays in hunt of the PKK.
As the violence subsides in Iraq, maybe it is time for the political class to re-examine their pasts: Iraqis are owed answers, the dead are owed justice.
Why? Because not everyone rationalized a temporary deal with the devil in order to survive. The fight against tyranny in Iraq witnessed incredible heroism that is yet unacknowledged. Tens of thousands of men and women chose an honorable way to go, or simply refused to break. For all the ink that's been spilled on the Iraq story, it is shameful that so many in the West still don't know the story of Iraq's struggle against a horrible totalitarian dictatorship. I'm always disgusted when high level Ba'athists being denied their pensions engender more sympathy in a U.S. news feature than a mother whose five sons were executed by the Ba'athist regime. This is partly the fault of Iraq's current leadership that have failed to bring this story to the world's attention.
Nations with historical amnesia will never let go of past hurts; look at the Turks, Armenians and Kurds today.
So as Chemical Ali deservingly ambles up to the gallows for the crimes of the Anfal Campaign, I ask President Talabani to publicly apologize for Pisht Aashan, and to set the historical record straight.