The preparation for the the national conference in Iraq and the statements of the two sides shows how deep is the conflict between the two sides, Shia and Sunnis, it has also confirmed the deep mistrust and lack of understanding both sides have towards the Kurds who are not doing much to fix this perception.
Since the departure of the Americans, the Shia and Sunnis of Iraq are at each others’ throat with Maliki wanting to consolidate his rule as Iraq’s new strongman by going after his adversaries, who did not give in and to an extent implicated the Kurds in the conflict.
The Kurdish role has been essential in the whole crisis both in Baghdad and in Kurdistan, but still the reaction from both camps Shia and Sunni is one of suspicion, mistrust and resentfulness. The Kurds need to ask themselves what is it that is making them the black sheep of Iraq in the eyes of the Arabs and also those who still believe in the old Iraq.
The Kurds seem to have failed to convince their partners and allies that the role they are playing is to avert the danger of civil war and a real blood bath in the country. They need to tell and remind both sides clearly that their role has so far been one of solving problems and not creating them.
The report of Jasim al-Sabawi from Baghdad about the relationship between the shia and the Kurds is a clear indication of how little the Arab side knows about the Kurds and how deep is the ignorance and how strong is the anti-Kurdish propaganda.
The report published in this issue of Rudaw on page (?) lists a number of views about the Kurds and their aspirations and demands. It clearly shows the stereotypical view of the Kurds by the Arabs. It shows that very little media work has been done at the public level to get the Kurdish message across to the rest of Iraq.
Their hosting of Hashimi was to avert a blood bath in Baghdad from taking place. But the prevlant view amongst the Arabs was to deepen the Shia-Sunni conflict. The Kurds have failed to get the arabs to imagine the blood bath that would be created by the scenario of Tariq al-Hashimi being tried and sentenced to death! But it seems that the media in Baghdad only looked at the Maliki perspective of the issue.
On the mediation front. The kurds have always been the factor that contributed to the creation of almost every government in Baghdad. The Talabani-hosted talks in 2006 led to the first Maliki government. The Barzani initiative led to the second Maliki government.
The role of President Talabani these has, once again, been key in bringing the conflicting parties to the table. The holding of the preparatory meeting in his house and the delay until his return is yet another proof of the indispensable status that he has managed to create for the Kurds in Baghdad.
It is clear by now that all of these efforts are to provide temporary fixes for a chronic conflict between the Shia and Sunnis who keep switching places in terms being friends or foes of the Kurds.
But rather than being busy with the immature and dysfunctional leadership of Iraq’s Arabs, they should work on fixing their image amongst the people of Iraq and convince them that they (the Kurds) are just as much affected by these conflicts and that they have a number of ligitimate and valid demands that have been the same all along.