Sunday, February 17, 2008
kill the conscience, with lives on the line:
We had a scare in Irbil in January 2006. There were rumors of Arabs at the market near the old city. My friend Andrew's fixer got the warning through text message, and then he sent it to my fixers, and to all their friends and family. I had an interview near the area that morning. My dudes advised us to reschedule. When we ultimately went to the interview, we took a route that avoided the old city. Kurds don't trust Arabs.

Leila Fadel reports from Irbil that Iraqi Kurdistan is becoming an apartheid state:
Every three months, Munawer Fayeq Rashid goes to the Asayech, an intelligence security agency in Irbil, and hands over his identification. The Shiite Muslim Arab never goes alone. He has to bring a Kurdish sponsor to vouch for him.

Although Irbil is part of Iraq, Iraqi Arabs who move here or elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan have learned that they're not considered fellow Iraqis.

"They treat us like foreigners," Rashid said.

When he moved to Irbil from Baghdad, worried about the safety of his Kurdish wife and his children, Rashid had to find a Kurd who'd swear that he was a good man. Then Kurdish authorities questioned him intensely before issuing him a residency permit that's good for only three months. He must carry it with him everywhere.

"They asked every detail about me," Rashid said. "'Where do you live? Who are your relatives? Who were your neighbors in Baghdad?' But the most nerve-wracking question was: 'Are you Sunni or Shiite?'"
--Spencer Ackerman