15.4.08    Dear Mr. Keller:
It has been a month and a half since we met in Istanbul. After that you went to Duhok, I hope your trip was successful. Did you get fruitful results?
I haven't heard anything from our coordinator Mr. Riyaz Sarikehye about his contacts with tribal leaders for the June meeting in Amman.
How do you evaluate the situation in Mosul province? Is the Amman meeting agenda clear?

Dear Orhan,

    I appreciate your concerns - including as to my 7 day delay for explicitly and in detail responding to your query. I've sent you though some indirect answers in the form of copies of related recent correspondences of mine.

    Now, to your questions. My meetings in Dohuk were held under the umbrella of my long-time political and diplomatic comrade-in-arms, Daud Baghistani (and, reportedly, under the cloud of explicit displeasure and disapproval of some current leaders concerning our Istanbul workshop and my visit to what they and others seem to consider to be their US-sponsored inherited fiefdom of "Southern Kurdistan"). As discussed in Istanbul, my two main objectives were:
1.    to appraise senior PKK leaders of our research results concerning Protocol 6 of the Turkish-Iraqi Treaty of Friendship and Neighborly Relations of 29 March 1946 (www.solami.com/bordertreaty.pdf) as a readily available instrument for bridgeing the current gaps between the public positions of Iraq and Turkey in particular regarding the PKK, the current PKK positions in Northern Iraq (.../const140.htm#PKK), and - in line with its long-standing offer (.../a31.htm#goodoffices) - under what circumstances the statutorily neutral Mosul Vilayet Council and the military forces eventually placed under its command and originating from its constuant communities could provide effective good offices to the parties to that still fully binding Treaty of 1946, with due consideration of both the currently evolving circumstances in the Turkish-Iraqi and the Iranian-Iraqi border area, and what are seen to be legitimate interests of the PKK and the people they represent (.../MOU.htm); and
2.    to explore the sentiment among members and leaders of the local communities regarding the desirability, necessity and implications of holding the referendum initially called for December 2007 under art.140 of the current Iraqi constitution, and to appraise them of practical institutional alternative roads for resolving overlapping territorial claims in the Kirkuk and other areas of the Mosul Vilayet in particular (.../registrars.htm).
3.    Upon my arrival in Dohuk, discussions held on the margins of the funeral of a key leader of the Mirani tribe - consisting of both Arabs and Kurds - brought to light the generally-held deep respect for a key leader of the Al-Tai tribe, Sultan Hashim Ahmed, Saddam's former Field Marshal and Defense Minister who, since some 8 months now, is on death row in Baghdad. Particularly in light of his eventual liberation's apparently unsurpassed impact towards a prompt, across-the-bord and lasting reconciliation of Iraqi society, we discussed available ways and means for effectively halting Sultan Ahmed's execution, and for eventually turning it into a presidential pardon tied into a wider reconciliation package. I thus decided on the spot to make this issue the third point of my main agenda. And I asked Daud to arrange for immediate consultations with Moktada al-Sadr. The idea being that it takes a principled and highly venerated leader if he is to get his community to essentially reverse its emotion-driven and thus strongly-held position - in this case the Shia's bad memories and sufferings at the hands of the former regime's henchmen and their corresponding call for meting out capital punishments. But not unlike Saddam, Moktada's political instincts, visions and leadership might, just might, uniquely enable him to initiate the politically rewarding drive to abolish the death sentence in all of Iraq even before the United States grew up to that level of civilization. A corresponding lawmaker initiative might then, politically, allow Talabani to issue an immediate staying order which would save notably the life and reconciliation benefit of Sultan Ahmed while Iraq's lawmakers will have all the time to haggle about the details of the corresponding abolition law. And if this results in Chemical Ali's life to be spared as well, so be it, the more so as that nasty piece of work would thus in fact be put into a much more lasting and harsher purgatory and social doghouse.

    Unfortunately - and mostly due to the military operations under way - the PKK leaders trip to Dohuk took longer than I was able to stay, for I had imperative obligations in Geneva on March 12. I've given detailed instructions to Ibrahim Farhad Rahman, our long-time able translator who did his job as best as he could. Thus, many misunderstandings arose particularly in the mind of PKK's Heval Kemal (Murat Careilan), were not recognized and set aside on the spot, and may be removed only in eventual successive personal meetings whose outcome I do not wish to compromise with comments based on the incomplete and thus inconclusive reports at hand.

    On the matter of the Kirkuk referendum, I found among my interlocuteurs a disconcerting if not alarming degree of uninformed, tired and even fatalistic laisser-faire attitude to prevail. True, I was in "Barzani country". But after so many years outside the effective control of Saddam's extended ears and eyes when the omni-present Saddam spies, moles and informers had either made the critical minds to shut up or risk to be treated as enemies of the public, Westerners like myself might have expected the essential characteristic of self-respecting thinking humanoids to have developed wider-spread and deeper roots. As indicated in the eye-opening report "Iraqi Kurdistan's Downward Spiral" by Kamal Said Qadir (Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2007, pp. 19-26), some attitudes and customs practized under previous regimes still dominate civil society. Nevertheless, my arguments in favor of alternative approaches to resolve the over-lapping territorial claims and the associated smoldering conflict over Kirkuk seemed to make encouraging dents and open up the minds in every one of my numerous meetings in and around Dohuk. I was greatly honored by the frank discussions I thus had not only with KDP officials but also with religious personalities and leaders notably of the Arab Al-Jubor, the Al-Tai and the Al-Shammer tribes.

    On the matter of the efforts to abolish the death sentence in Iraq and to involve key Shias in that drive, I was also already away when Moktada al-Sadr's delegation arrived in Dohuk. Reportedly, the discussions went fairly well and led to direct contacts which proved helpful in tempering and eventually stopping the fight that broke out again at that time notably in Basra.

    Finally, since my return to Geneva, in the absence of any sign to date from our friend Riyaz Sarikehye whom, at our March 1 executive meeting in Istanbul, we unanimously entrusted with the organization and coordination of our follow-up June meeting in Amman, I have concentrated on collecting ethnic Iraqi maps which would illustrate the kind of additional - avoidable - problems of over-lapping territorial claims, the involved communities and the decision-makers here and there would foreseeably have to face if and when the "Kirkuk" referendum would be pushed through, as provided for particularly in art.140 of Iraq's ill-advised and ill-considered current constitution (.../const140.htm; compare to: .../iraqdraftcon.pdf | www.aemam.net). And, as a matter of urgency, I invite you and all those concerned to look for and email me notably correspondng maps, be they of an official or non-official nature. For me, the Amman agenda is clear: I'm leaving there tomorrow for some exploratory talks. Beyond that, we'll see whether President Carter made any use of the material which, by way of a long-time comrade-in-arms on the Geneva NGO front, I entrusted to him for his discussions with Hamas representatives in Damascus (.../palestineinexile.htm).


Anton Keller
              +4122-7400362                           +4179-6047707             swissbit@solami.com




Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 10:59 AM

if you dont feel blessed with the capacity/luxury to lean back and think things over,
skip this mail, except perhaps for the PS note - but anyway stop digging!

Dear friend,

In the run-up to our March 09 Amman symposium on landownership matters in Arab, Islamic and Ottoman Law - and following our Istanbul Iraq workshop and the Road Map thus adopted in Feb 08 - we've been working on Sami Aldeeb's ground-breaking essay "Res in usu omnium en droit musulman et arabe - Question du feu (le pétrole)" and are about to finalise the yet-to-be-authorized adaption of his English translation unter the title "Common goods in Islamic and Arab law - Question of fire (oil)".

Under  the evolving circumstances, we've found Prophet Muhammad's narration: "People are partners (shuraka') in three things: water, grass and fire" to be exceptionally interesting and worthy of debate and consideration for addressing, with a new look, many of the Middle East's festering wounds. The origin of the equation oil = liquid or subsoil fire manifestly dating to pre-Islamic times (see also: Hugo Blümner, Technologisches (Schwefel, Alaun und Asphalt im Alterthum), in Festschrift zur 39.Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmänner, Universität Zürich, Zürcher & Furrer, 1887, S.23-39; Nikolaus Brauns, Nordirak: Kirkuk und der Kampf ums mesopotamische Öl, Junge Welt, 1.3.03), it might be helpful to dispose not only of secondary literature but of original Latin quotes from Plinius, Plutarch, Vitruv and other ancient writers who are understood to have made related observations. Hugo Blümner's commendable contribution of 1887 is full of them, but in order to extract the most appropriate quotes, I need the help of others who - contrary to me - are versed in Latin.

Thanks in advance for your benevolent consideration and prompt assistance. Meanwhile, I remain with best wishes and Season's Greetings,

yours truly

Anton Keller
              027-2812477                           079-6047707             swissbit@solami.com

PS: recommended reading on the origins & conceivable ways out of the deepening financial, economic & social rut:
selected titles of related articles (www.solami.com/capitalism.html | .../caisses.htm): any suggestion, comment?