Fareed Zakaria on Kurds: They Are One of the ‘Few Good Guys in the Middle East’
ZAKARIA: "For the next 80-plus years, the Kurds continued to find themselves a minority, discriminated against wherever they lived. Often it was more than discrimination. In March of 1988, a chemical weapons attack on a Kurdish village in Iraq killed an estimated 6,800 Kurdish men, women, and children. It was part of a ruthless military campaign by Saddam Hussein's military, which eventually led to the deaths of at least 50,000 Kurds. That atrocity in part influenced the decision in 1991 by the U.S. to create a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, giving the Kurds the protection they needed and planting the seeds for a future independent nation. Since then, the Kurds have prospered and proved themselves to be one of the most tolerant societies in the Middle East, respecting minorities and affording a limited degree of political opposition and free speech. They have also been a reliable, strong friend to the United States. Most recently, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have led the fight to defeat ISIS in the region. This week's referendum on independence might not lead directly to the new nation state. It might be a way for the Kurds to bargain for greater autonomy within Iraq. Washington can push for that kind of outcome. But the United States should signal that it supports the long-suppressed aspirations and dreams of its friends and allies. There are few good guys in the Middle East. But the Kurds really do fit that description."