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Recognizing Kurdish Genocide Will Have Repercussions

Almost a quarter-century after Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to utilize chemical weapons against Iraq’s Kurdish population, the Kurdistan Regional Government and many in the Kurdish Diaspora are gearing up to demand that the international community recognize the Kurdish genocide. The broader Anfal campaign—of which the bombing of Halabja was just the apex—was certainly ethnic cleansing, but if the Kurdish government succeeds broadly in gaining international recognition of genocide in which up to 182,000 Kurds died, then the repercussions may be wider than it would like.

After all, less than a decade later, Masud Barzani—the president of Iraqi Kurdistan—allied himself with Saddam Hussein and allowed the Iraqi dictator’s tanks and storm troopers into his capital in a devil’s bargain to liquidate his opposition. Saddam’s storm troopers also used Barzani’s open door to hunt down and summarily execute several hundred other Iraqi oppositionists who had escaped his thumb and settled in Kurdistan.

That would make Barzani, in effect, complicit in Saddam’s crimes. Historians will ultimately judge the case, and the U.S. intelligence community should certainly make accessible all of Saddam’s files, even the embarrassing ones.


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