The Muftis of Kurdistan

Here's the second of David Axe's dispatches from the electioneering in northern Iraq. Kurds have become relentless self-promoters, pitching for aid and recognition with characteristic unity. But two brothers, Adnan and Kanan Mufti, play the public relations game a whole lot better than most.adnan_mufti_1215.JPGKanan Mufti is the Kurdistan Director of Archeology and a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. He's also an unofficial ambassador of Kurdistan. He receives journalists, academics and foreign dignitaries in his well-appointed two-story home in Erbil. Listen to what he told me on Dec. 14: The Kurdish people is the only people in the Middle East with respect for other nations. We used to cohabitate in a brotherly fashion with Jews. Now we have the district of Ankawa populated by Christians. Kurds have been oppressed, but they oppress no one.You might wonder where this is going. After a drag on his cigarette and a sip of chai, he asked off-handedly why Kurdistan, with such a great human rights record, couldn't have independence.Because it would tear Iraq apart and invite a Turkish invasion, is why. But Kanan's not the only person wondering. Kurds everywhere dream of independence, consequences be damned.Kanan's brother Adnan is a big wig in the rival Kurdish political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He's currently speaker of the regional assembly.Adnan Mufti isn't as blunt as Kanan. Taking a break from a press conference with local journalists on election day, he tells me that the elections are important because they will mean a new government and new laws that will reinvigorate the U.S.-Iraqi partnership. To struggle together against terrorists and terrorism and to have a new Iraq federation respecting human rights thats why our people suffered, to have this one day.In my experience, human rights is Kurdish code for Kurdish rights. Adnan Mufti is too clever not to couch his regional patriotism -- and his desire for more U.S. involvement in Kurdistan -- in federal Iraqi terms.Mufti, by the way, means "powerful". You can bet that the opinions expressed by Kanan and Adnan shape those of millions of Iraqi Kurds.-- David Axe

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