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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Kurds Vow to Retain Militia as Guardians of Autonomy

NY Times Report

SARAI SUBHAN AGHA, Iraq, Feb. 23 - The camouflage-clad militiamen marched down from the mountains in four columns of hundreds each, stomping their boots in unison.

"Keep looking forward!" an officer yelled.

"Kurdistan or death!" the soldiers shouted at once, their words thundering over the sound of heels striking the ground.

Here at a training camp in the eastern hills of Iraqi Kurdistan, there is little doubt about to whom these soldiers owe their allegiance.

Many say their first loyalty lies with a major Kurdish political party. Then they offer it to Kurdistan, the rugged autonomous region in northern Iraq the size of Switzerland. There is little mention of the nation of Iraq or the Iraqi Army.

"All of the pesh merga of Kurdistan, we're fighting for Kurdistan," one of the soldiers, Fermen Ibrahim, 25, told a visitor, calling the militia by its Kurdish name, which means "those who face death."

As political jockeying rages in Baghdad to determine the shape of the new government - how Islamic it will be, whether it has strong or weak central powers - one of the most troublesome issues emerging is whether political parties, especially those of the Kurds and Shiites, can keep their private armies. Kurdish leaders say they intend to write into the new constitution a system granting considerable powers to individual regions, one that will legitimize their use of the pesh merga.
If the Kurds succeed, they will achieve the right of regional powers to set up their own armies, possibly leading to warlord-style fiefs across Iraq. Until their strong showing in the recent national elections, Kurdish leaders appeared to agree, at least in public, with the American goal of dismantling militias. Now they stand in open defiance of it.

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Hard Comment: According to the CIA WORLD FACTBOOK there is no Country currently known as 'Kurdistan'.

So what could these Kurdish Militia Fighters pledging 'Kurdistan or Death' have in mind?

Could this be the makings of a Civil War within the borders of the country currently known as Iraq down the road?

Kurds & Shi'ites with their own Private Armies, along with the Iraqi Army?

Sounds kind of crowded doesn't it?

What do you think?

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