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The War Nerd February 26, 2008
The Kurds Will Always Lose, Part II
The enemy of your enemy is a pig, too By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 2 of 4

Imagine what it's like living at the mercy of people like that. Wouldn't you strike first? I sure would. I'd be sucking up the occupiers just so it wouldn't be my little sister getting used for a play toy by the soldiers down in that soundproof room. Better it should be my neighbor's sister; we never liked the bitch anyway. And remember, minding your own business is not an option.

After a while, there are no good guys in a place like that. Plenty of bad guys, but no good guys, not above ground. It's a war of bad-vs.-worse, or worse-vs.-worst. And even the worst get theirs sooner or later. That's your one comfort if you're a Kurd: your enemy will get his sooner or later, because the Kurds will always lose.

Take the Barzani clan. In my last column I mentioned that the Kurds kept trusting one local family, the Barzanis, to lead them to victory, and kept getting betrayed because the Barzanis never look out for anybody but themselves. The Barzanis know more about betrayal and counter-betrayal than any lawyer in LA can even dream of knowing. They're the top predator in Kurd-land. But they ended up losing big-time to one of their foreign occupier clients, a dude named Saddam Hussein.

We have to go back here to the Iran-Iraq War as it turned against Iraq in 1982. Saddam had been dealing with Kurdish rebels all his life, and he took it for granted that they'd take a sensible offer from him, even though he'd been slaughtering their friends all along. And he was right; the Barzanis, who ran the KDP, one of the biggest Kurdish militia/party organizations didn't hold a grudge that way. They just decided that the Persians were going to kick Saddam's ass, thanks to superior manpower and morale. So the Barzanis and the KDP did a deal with the Revolutionary Guards, acting as local guides and scouts when the Iranians overran the town of Hajj Umran in NE Iraqi Kurdistan.

That annoyed Saddam. He decided to remind the Barzanis that even though they might be the head wogs, they were still wogs and it was the Arabs who ran Iraq. The Iraqi Army jumped the village of Barzani, where, like you might have guessed, the Barzanis lived, and took away every male over the age of 13. This was one of the few times in history nobody was jealous of their older brothers, because they and Dad and Uncle Whoever were driven off to a ditch and shot. Saddam put it best: "They all went to Hell."

The real catch here is that the occupying army eventually stops caring whether you're one of the local "supporters" or "enemies"; they're sick of all of you. Saddam's troops killed every male they found even though half of them were members of the Kurdish pro-Saddam militia, the Jash. Members of the Jash who showed their loyal ID cards to the troops were tossed into the trucks and shot in the ditches just like everybody else—and let me emphasize here, this is very, very normal in CI warfare. It's why CI warfare always dissolves into a zombie stalemate: because the occupiers eventually lose patience and use their superior firepower the only way they can, without making distinctions between wogs on their side and wogs who are the enemy. The way the troops see it, the problem here is the existence of wogs—kurds, gooks, whatever—not the particular political orientation of this or that particular wog. They're sick of looking at wogs, listening to them snitch on each other, they just want the whole mess to shut up and lie down under a bulldozer.

If the wogs—the Kurds—could know for sure they were going to get massacred like the Barzanis did, maybe they could die nobly, sticking up for each other for once. But see, even Saddam wasn't that predictable; he mostly let his Kurdish vassals live—mostly. Most of the time it was safer to be on the occupier's good side and betray your neighbour before he could betray you. That's how Kurds have always thought.

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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