“We should encourage the participation of the communists in Iraq,” said Qubad Talabani.
Eyebrows were raised among the roughly 150 people listening. Talabani, with his British accent, pinstripe suit and polished wingtips, is decidedly not a communist. The son of Iraq’s president, he is also the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative in the U.S. The communists, he said, are needed to counter the Iraqi parties calling for an Islamic style of government.
Despite 50,000 Iraqi civilians dead since the U.S. invasion, Kurdish envoy Qubad Talabani, speaking at UVA, says we should look at the success stories in Iraq.
Talabani’s November 28 speech at UVA’s Wilson Hall covered a wide range of issues, including the effect of the Democrats’ sweeping November elections victory on Iraq policy, the changing role of the U.S. military in Iraq and the upcoming report from the commission headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Talabani’s main focus, however, was on the “success stories” in Iraq. Students Defending Democracy, a UVA group organized around the idea that “terrorism is never justifiable,” sponsored the talk.
“I’m not belittling the bad news. There are bad things happening in the country. There is violence,” Talabani said. “What is not being reported are some of the success stories in the country.”
Those successes, according to Talabani, include the Kurdish region in the northern part of Iraq: “In 1988, it was completely devastated by [Saddam Hussein’s] regime. Its citizens were almost annihilated. From the ruins of that we’ve managed to build up a very, relatively, democratic civil society. Very pro-Western. Very pro-American.”
Talabani acknowledged Americans’ frustration with the slow pace of progress in Iraq. “We still do urge your patience,” he said. “If we do pull out prematurely, if we do allow this project to fail in Iraq, the ramifications—not only for my people, but for the region and the stability of the region—will be great.”
Almost 2,900 American troops have died since the occupation of Iraq began in 2003.