The Corner

Hawlati accuses Talabani of ‘disappearing’ dissidents

Hawlati, Iraqi Kurdistan’s independent newspaper reports that in May 2000, Jalal Talabani’s security forces arrested a father and three sons for alleged Barzani sympathy. None have been seen since. Another reason, perhaps, that Jalal Talabani seems so intent to shut down independent media, even if it means using Baath Party laws put on the books by Saddam Hussein.

Furthering democracy is a worthwhile goal and important for U.S. national security; supporting dictators backfires. Talabani is no dictator. He certainly deserves U.S. support for the work he is doing in Iraq. But, labeling allies as democrats for diplomatic nicety, be they Talabani, Mubarak, or Putin, breeds cynicism that erodes U.S. credibility.

Meanwhile, Talabani has been to the Mayo clinic twice, not only for a bad knee but, according to several U.S. ambassadors, also for a persistent heart ailment. If he cares about his legacy, he will drop his lawsuit against Hawlati and provide resolution and restitution to the families his security forces apparently detained and murdered.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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