Ansar al-Islam kills PUK minister, two others

Ansar al-Islam's territoryDamn. Ansar al-Islam militants shot and killed a prominent PUK member in the Kurdish parliament along with two other Kurdish officials Saturday night, The New York Times is reporting. Shawkat Hajji Mushir, a founding member of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan and a close associate of Jalal Talabani was negotiating with Ansar members in the belief that a substantial number of them wanted to defect. It was, however, a trap.
I never met Mr. Mushir, but if he was anything like the peshmerga fighters I met when I toured the Ansar front outside of Halabja in July last year, he would have been a warm and hospitable man who loved his country. The fact that he was willing to negotiate with Ansar al-Islam — with only light security — indicates that he believed a level of trust could be created between the Islamist militants and the secular Kurdish government. I found the creation of a secular democracy open to all faiths to be the overriding goal of most of the Kurds I met while in Iraq last year. Unfortunately, Ansar doesn’t agree and is at war with the PUK and KDP. Mr. Mushir paid for this goal with his life.
My sympathies and thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of those killed, who were working against time, tyranny and uncertainty to create a better world for themselves and their children.