Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Perspective: In twist of history, Kurds patrol Baghdad

Above: Members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Division moments before they departed northern Iraq for Baghdad in January.

BAGHDAD: The Shiite mother and her son opened their door for the soldiers on night patrol. In walked the Americans, each brandishing an M-16 assault rifle. Next came the men wearing tan uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs and looking not quite Iraqi.

They spoke Arabic with accents as thick as crude oil.

"Are there problems in the neighborhood?" said their leader, Captain Sardar Hamasala. "We're here for your safety. Let us know if there are sectarian problems or other kinds of problems - Sunnis threatening Shia, Shia threatening Sunnis."

The black-robed mother and her son shook their hands. The soldiers stepped back into the cool night air of western Baghdad.

"There was a time when we couldn't go from house to house like this among the Arabs just because we're Kurds," Hamasala said. "Now we're trying to make things easier for them. We're proud of that."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune