I stayed on in Canberra for the weekend for a meeting of the Democrats’ National Executive, which I’m a member of. It was good to finally get back home and get out and about amongst people around Brisbane.
In amongst catching up with mail and assorted paperwork in my office, I had a diverse range of activities covering a Seniors Week forum, butterflies and the human rights of Kurds.
First up was a political forum out at Cleveland, which is in Redlands Shire on the edge of Moreton Bay. It was organised by the University of the Third Age as part of Seniors Week. It was attended by about 150 people, mostly retirees but with some High School students as well, and provided a good chance to give a quick run down on the nature of politics. There were some good and quite challenging questions as well.
After that, I met with a person from the Butterfly and other Invertebrates Club. These folks are based in South-East Queensland and whilst butterflies mightn’t sound like the most pressing issue, they are an important part of maintaining biodiversity. Their publications give a lot of info on native plants which act as hosts for various types of butterflies. Encouraging people to use host plants in their gardens is one way to move away from exotics and invasive plants which can be damaging to the wider environment.
I also spoke at a rally in support of the Kurdish people in Iran and Iraq. The specific focus of the rally was to protest the recent killing of a young Kurdish man by Iranian authorities, and the wider killings of Kurds which is reported to have followed. I wrote a long piece a while ago about self-determination and the need to remember the Kurds’ specific situation in Iraq. I believe it is important that the relative peace and autonomy which the Kurds in parts of northern Iraq currently enjoy is not put at risk from outside political pressures or the wider unrest currently happening in Iraq,
This latest report in The Independent about the newly finalised draft Iraq constitution says it “was threatening to drag the country into civil war.” Whilst the USA wants the new Constitution in place to help with its exit strategy from Iraq, there is a strong chance that, even if it is ratified by the Iraqi Parliament, it will fail the conditions required at the subsequent referendum. It is hard to be sure what the consequences of that might be, but they wouldn’t be good. There is no doubt there’s widespread support amongst Kurds for an independent state (something which horrify Turkey), and there is already a big struggle over control of oil revenue from the Kurdish city of Kirkuk. If Iraq does descend further into total civil war, the Kurds will rightly want to break away from the mess all together.
UPDATE: This interesting piece in the Jerusalem Post suggests Iraq is just not sustainable as a single state anymore.
“Iraq may now be going the way of Yugoslavia, yet the US government does not wish to recognize this obvious fact. What is failing in Iraq is not only the attempt to build democracy, but the very attempt to keep the country together.
There is no way of putting Humpty-Dumpty together again. The Kurds and the Shi’ites will go their separate ways, and both entities have the paramilitary capability to do so. There is no Iraqi army capable of maintaining the unity of the country. And, just as in the former Yugoslavia, the separate countries – Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia – have a better chance of creating coherent and democratic systems than the old coercive Yugoslavia, the same may apply to Iraq.
I don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is, the sooner it’s recognised, the better for everyone. (story found via The Reader)