More Violence in Kirkuk

More violence in Kirkuk between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. Two dead, 10 injured. Bad news all around.

At least two people died and 10 were wounded today in Kirkuk when Arabs and Turkmen protested Kurdish efforts to control the oil-rich city.

Kurds on Iraq’s U.S.-appointed Governing Council are proposing that a future, federal Iraqi government grant broad autonomy to the northern zone, with Kirkuk as its capital, and a say over other areas with large Kurdish populations.
That plan is bitterly opposed by Turkmens and Arabs in Kirkuk, some 20,000 of whom took to the streets Wednesday, chanting “No to federalism! Kirkuk is Iraqi!.”

This is the aftereffects of Saddam Hussein’s efforts to “Arabize” the Kirkuk region. The city became a powderkeg of ethnic tensions when the “Kurds took Kirkuk”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000354.php in April and almost immediately began “Kurdishizing” the area by driving out Arab families that had been settled there. In August, “three Turkmen were killed”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000445.php#000445 in ethnic violence in Kirkuk. (If you want to see some of what the Kurds are looking for, I wrote about the proposed constitutions “here”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000046.php#000046.)
I’m working on an essay about the political maneuverings among the Kurds, the Iraqi Governing Council and even Turkey, so I’m not going to say much more than this. But, as during the war, some of the most interesting — and far-reaching — events are bubbling in the north while most of the obvious bang-bang action is around Baghdad. While the southern events are important — people are dying, for God’s sake — the Kurds could be the match that lights a larger fire.

Jews for Kurdistan!

At least two American Jews fiercely believe in an independent Kurdistan? Are there more?

Really interesting article here on a Brooklyn woman’s passionate support for an independent Kurdistan. The kicker? Vera Saeedpour is a “feisty, diminutive and devoutly Jewish senior citizen.”
The widow of a Muslim Iranian Kurd who died in 1981, her Jewish identity has had a tremendous impact on her immersion in the Kurdish cause. “How could we as Jews complain about the world being silent when we were persecuted,” she asks, “and ignore what has happened to the Kurds?”
Pretty interesting stuff, and she’s not alone. A friend of mine, who would prefer anonymity, is also passionately pro-Kurdistan and Jewish. And while Saeedpour calls herself an “advocate for justice,” my friend has called himself a “Kurdish activist.” What’s interesting about my friend is that, unlike Saeedpour who has strong personal ties to Kurdish culture (marriage), my friend just developed a passionate interest from books and visits. (He has friends who are Kurdish, of course.)
So I’m putting out a call, as I’d like to see how widespread this phenomenon is. If you’re Jewish and _passionately_ believe that the Kurds should be independent — if you might be considered obsessive on the subject, even — I want to hear from you. I’d also like to find out if this is a common trend in the American Jewish community. Does it grow out of Jews’ general sympathy for social justice? And what about in Israel? Is there much support for an independent Kurdistan there? How does this fit into the context of an independent Palestine? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions and I’m just kind of brainstorming, but if I can find enough Jews who feel like Saeedpour and my friend, that might be a pretty good story.

Utne Announces Press Award Winners

Utne Magazine announces its 2003 Independent Press Award winners.

Utne Magazine announced its 2003 Independent Press Awards winners today, with _The American Prospect, The Onion, Mother Jones_ and _Grist_ picking up some of the top honors.
The American Prospect took top prize for General Excellence, while The Onion took best Cultural/Social Coverage. Utne commented: “America’s funniest newspaper is also one of its sharpest critical voices. Read The Onion for a good laugh and at the same time get real insight into many of the issues, large and small, facing us today.” This is a great move for _The Onion_ out of the humor category and into the social commentary slot, as it seems satire, ala _The Daily Show,_ Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, has become the preferred method of cultural and political criticism.
The Nation picked up the prize for best Political Coverage and Grist was picked for best Online Political Coverage. (Back-to-Iraq.com was also nominated for the same category, but congratulations, Grist!)
“The complete list of winners”:http://www.utne.com/pub/2004_121/promo/11017-1.html is truly a rogue’s gallery (I mean that in the most complimentary sense!) of independent and alternative media out there, and I urge everyone to check out some of the winners for themselves. You’ll be delighted, intrigued and hopefully better informed.

Holiday Pledge Drive

We’ve topped $1,000 in donations since the weekend. Thank you all so very much.

The Holiday Pledge Drive (into which the current round of fundraising seems to have evolved) has been a raging success. With the announcment that one donor, Currencia, would match donations that come in between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24 at 5 p.m., people have donated $1,006. And it’s not even Christmas Eve. Most sentimentally for me, one of my childhood friends, Kenneth Buswell was the one that put us over the $1,000 mark. As he so eloquently put it in his donation note: “Keepin’ yo ass alive.” Thanks, man. And thank you _all_ for your generous support.
I’m working on seeing if I can get some comments today from my sources in the PUK regarding “Saddam’s capture on Dec. 14”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000495.php, and after that B2I will take a short holiday break. I’ll be in Little Rock, Ark., for the holidays with the family until Saturday. Happy holidays everyone.

Shameless Self-Promotion

OK. This is hilarious. I’ve been nominated for _The Week_ Magazine’s “Media Person of the Year.” Click “here”:http://tinyurl.com/2yfc2 to vote.
What’s silly is that I’m nestled in between Roger Ailes and Ashleigh Banfield. (Hm. Half of that snugglefest wouldn’t be so bad.) What’s sillier is that I’m on a list that includes people such as Jayson Blair (ugh), Howard Dean, Paris Hilton and Jon Stewart.
Amusing.
On a related note, Utne will announce the winners of its 2003 “Independent Press Awards”:http://www.utne.com/uipa tomorrow. I’ve been nominated for the Online Political Reporting. Stiff competition there, though. Wish B2I luck!