WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has released a database of diplomatic records from the 1970s by then secretary of state Henry Kissinger, sheds light on how the Kurds are seen from an American perspective.
The released cables were not classified and had been available in national archives, but Assange’s main reason for compiling them is to show that, "The US administration cannot be trusted to maintain the history of its interactions with the world."
The database has been organized in a user-friendly way, so that ordinary people - not only historians and specialists - can easily go through the documents.
As a journalist, I went to the website, www.wikileaks.ch and typed the various usual keywords of Kurds, Kurdistan, Kurdish, KDP, Barzani, Talabani, etc., and found many cables that were telling of the consistency of US policy toward the Kurds.
The most striking discovery is that America always listened to others about the Kurdish "problem." Its Kurdish policy, if it existed, was through the eyes of the Iranian Shah, the Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad as well as other ambassadors. The US action toward the Kurds was always dictated by what others told Washington about the Kurds, not what the Kurds said themselves. This was true even on very basic issues.
One cable quotes Cuhruk, the Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad, talking about the points of difference between the Kurds and Baghdad as being: “Over boundaries and census; control of central government over chief of executive regional council; and right to appoint local officials including police".
This is not very different from today's issues and the US attitude toward them. No wonder that Washington supported Baghdad over the Kurds.
The other stark point in the cables was their treatment and dealing with General Mustafa Barzani during and after the September revolution, despite the fact that not all cables related to the word Barzani are available in the search. The US was clearly not interested in him as a leader. All it wanted was to accommodate him and contain him as much as possible, in collaboration with Iran and Baghdad during the last days of his life in the USA.
In another cable from 1974, and the criticism of Al-Thawra newspaper of the Voice of America’s coverage of the Kurdish issue, it concludes by recommending that: "If accusations against US government reappear during coming week, Dept [of state] may wish to consider outlining US position at noon briefing in response to question. Hopefully it could include disclaimer of involvement in internal affairs and some recognition of GOI (Government of Iraq) efforts to resolve this historically difficult internal problem".
This cable should be read by all who are involved in talks or conflict with Baghdad. They should not rely much on outside support, especially the US.
The Iraq that the cable was referring to was an Iraq that the US had good relations with. Today's Iraq is also one that the US has good ties with. The above cable could perfectly be sent today if Baghdad accuses the US of siding with the Kurds.
Hiwa Osman is a media development specialist based in Erbil.